Lithe Peop IE of northern North America.
Etymology: Ojibwa (Algonquian), "hairy-faced dwarf." Plural, Memegwesiwag.
Variant names: Maymaygwayshi, Mee'meg-
324 mecheny wee'ssi, Mekumwasuck (Passamaquoddy/ Algonquian), Memegwecio (Cree/Algonquian), Memegwicio, Memekwesiw, Nagumwasuck (Passamaquoddy/Algonquian).
Physical description: Monkeylike, old-looking, and ugly. Height, 3-4 feet. Completely hairy, including the face. Big head. Flat nose or no nose at all. Long beard. Short arms. Bowed legs.
Behavior: High, insectlike voice with a nasal twang. Swims underwater. Raises arms out of the water when surfacing. Eats fishes and wild rice. Plays pranks on humans on stormy nights. Smokes tobacco. Makes stone projectile points, skin drums, and baskets. Wears chickadee skins. Carves rock art.
Habitat: Mountains, grottos, rocks, river-banks, and caverns.
Distribution: Lake Superior area of central Ontario, Canada; northern Minnesota; northern Wisconsin; northern Michigan; Maine. Also in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada.
Significant sighting: Memegwesiwag are often shown in pictographs as stick figures with lines running from their heads. One on the Semple River near Oxford House in northeast Manitoba marks the spot where the dwarfs cured a woman.
Sources: Johann G. Kohl, Kitchi-Gami: Wanderings round Lake Superior (London: Chapman and Hall, 1860), pp. 358-366; Frank G. Speck, "Myths and Folk-Lore of the Timiskaming Algonquin and Timagami Ojibwa," Anthropological Series, Memoirs of the Geological Survey ofCanada 71, no. 9 (1915): 82; Regina Flannery-Herzfeld, "A Study of the Distribution and Development of the Memegwicio Concept in Algonquian Folklore," master's thesis, Department of Anthropology, Catholic University of America, 1931; Sr. Bernard Coleman, "The Religion of the Ojibwa of Northern Minnesota," Primitive Man 10 (1937): 33-57; Selwyn Dewdney and Kenneth E. Kidd, Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1967), pp. 12-24; Katharine M. Briggs, A Dictionary ofFairies (London: Allen Lane, 1976), pp. 268-270; John E. Roth, American Elves (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1997), pp. 9-10, 38-40, 114, 137-141.
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