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A Pukwudgie is a 2-to-3-foot-tall (61 to 91 cm) being from the Wampanoag folklore. Pukwudgies' features resemble those of a human, but with enlarged noses, fingers and ears. Their skin is described as being a smooth grey, and at times has been known to glow.
In Native American lore, Pukwudgies have the following traits and abilities;
- they can appear and disappear at will
- they can transform into a walking porcupine (it looks like a porcupine from the back, and the front is half-troll[clarification needed], half-human and walks upright)
- they can attack people and lure them to their deaths
- they are able to use magic
- they have poison arrows
- they can create fire at will
- Pukwudgies control Tei-Pai-Wankas which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed.
Native Americans believed that Pukwudgies were best left alone. When you see a Pukwudgie you are not supposed to mess with them, or they will repay you by playing nasty tricks on you, or by following you and causing trouble. They were once friendly to humans, but then turned against them. They are known to kidnap people, push them off cliffs, attack their victims with short knives and spears, and to use sand to blind their victims.
Origin in legend
"Legends of the Pukwudgie began in connection to 'Maushop', a creation giant believed by the Wampanoag to have created most of Cape Cod. He was beloved by the people, and the Pukwudgies were jealous of the affection the Natives had for him. They tried to help the Wampanoag, but their efforts always backfired, until they eventually decided to torment them instead. They became mischievous and aggravated the Natives until they asked 'Granny Squanit', Maushop’s wife, for help. Maushop collected as many as he could. He shook them until they were confused and tossed them around New England. Some died, but others landed, regained their minds and made their way back to Massachusetts.
Satisfied he had done his job and pleased his wife, Maushop went away for a while. In his absence, the Pukwudgies had returned. They again changed their relationship with the Wampanoags. They were no longer just a nuisance, but began kidnapping children, burning villages and forcing the Wampanoag deep into the woods and killing them. Squanit again stepped in, but Maushop, being very lazy, sent his five sons to fix the problem. The Pukwudgies lured them into deep grass and shot them dead with magic arrows. Enraged, Squanit and Maushop attacked as many as they could find and crushed them, but many escaped and scattered throughout New England again. The Pukwudgies regrouped and tricked Maushop into the water and shot him with their arrows. Some legends say they killed him, while others claim he became discouraged and depressed about the death of his sons, but after these events Maushop disappears from the Wampanoags' mythology."
- The Good Giants And The Bad Pukwudgies. Jean Fritz; illustrations by Tomie de Paola. Putnam, 1982
- Pukwudgies: Myth or Monster