The Pukwudgie are supernatural cryptids that are found in the legends and folklore of the Wampanoag people of the northeastern United States. The name Pukwudgie is translated to “little wild man of the woods that vanishes” and it can also be spelled Puk-Wudjie or Pukwudgee.
|Pukwudgie / Puk-Wudjie / Pukwudgee.
|Northeastern United States – Massachusetts / Indiana
|Folklore / Supernatural Cryptid
|Small, humanoid creature, gray skin, large ears, and the ability to turn invisible.
|About 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) tall.
|Mischievous, playful, and sometimes malicious. Known for pranks, trickster behavior, shape-shifting, and supernatural powers such as controlling the weather. In some legends, they may have healing abilities.
|Forests, wilderness areas, and natural landscapes in the northeastern United States.
|No scientific evidence available.
|Sightings and Encounters:
|There have been anecdotal accounts and stories of encounters with Pukwudgies in Native American folklore, but these are not considered as verifiable sightings in the scientific sense.
|Some people believe that the Pukwudgie are simply spirits of the forest, while others believe that they are real creatures.
What Do Pukwudgies look like?
Pukwudgies are described as human-like creatures that only stand about 2 to 3 feet / 0.6 to 0.9 meters tall and have been described as being similar to trolls, dwarves, or goblins.
They have short legs, big ears and noses, and pale or grey skin. They are also said to have porcupine quills that run all the way from the top of their heads down their back which can sometimes make them look like a porcupine from behind.
It is believed that Pukwudgies can turn invisible which allows them to mostly leave them undetected by humans. Some also believe that they are shapeshifters.
The Legend of the Pukwudgies
The Legend of the Pukwudgies begins with a peaceful giant called Maushop who was known for his strength and size. He was said to have created the land where the people of the Wampanoag lived and he taught them how to live in harmony with each other and with nature.
Pukudgies, on the other hand, were small and mischievous creatures who became jealous of Maushop’s strengths and the devotion the people had for him and they began to play tricks on the people. The tricks however started to become more and more menevolent and dangerous as time passed.
This is their story (taken from, “The Narrow Land: folk chronicles of old Cape Cod“).
THE BATTLE WITH THE PYGMIES
On an island in Poponesset Bay, below South Mashpee, Maushop kept his wife, a giantess born to a common-size brave and squaw at a place called Cummaquid. Since she did not stop growing when she reached the height of a man-being, she soon became so tall that the highest trees only reached to her shoulder. Even so, she was far shorter than her husband, who knocked trees over as if they were so many weeds, and thought nothing of eating a small whale at a meal.
Maushop’s wife, named Quaunt, bore him five sons who were also giants and had good hearts. Quaunt was not so good-natured as these menfolk with whom she lived. Sometimes she nagged Maushop, or beat her sons; sometimes she tried to prevent them from doing good to the Indians of the Narrow Land. Often she repented of her periods of evil, and attempted to befriend man-beings, to make amends for her folly.
In the days when Maushop and his five sons and his quarrelsome wife used the Cape for their wigwam mat, a Little People lived in the swamps of maple and birch, and around the salt ponds and bays. They built their homes in high grasses or bulrushes, and divided their forces into seven bands, each with its own leader. These pygmies, or Little People, were called Pukwudgees. Only a handful of them were in each band, yet so potent was their magic (even a common Pukwudgee had charms greater than those of the tribal medicine men), so terrible were their miracles, that Maushop and his sons and his wife could not always prevail against them.
The chiefs among the Pukwudgees had more power than the pygmy warriors, but the chief of the chiefs, the leader over the seven bands, was the greatest magician of them all. In height he was the tallest Pukwudgee, and at that he scarcely reached the knee of an ordinary man. Around his neck hung a string of bright shells. His body was entirely covered with green leaves, and he carried a white oak bow equipped with arrows which were not a finger long. He and his band lived in the marshes near Poponesset Bay, where he could keep an eye on the doings of Maushop and trouble the Gentle Giant with small botherings.
The Pukwudgees were bad. Now and then they befriended a manbeing, but that was only to show what they could do. They trained the Tei-Pai-Wankas (Will-o’-the-Wisps) to shine lights near the trails at night. Traveling Indians followed these lights and were lured into the marshes where Mahtahdou, the devil, trapped their feet in quicksand and sucked them into the earth. The Pukwudgees delighted in scaring women and girls. Sometimes the Little People appeared in the form of bears, and when the hunters shot at them, pulled the arrows out of their hides, broke the arrow shafts and ran away; or vanished into air as soon as arrows touched their bodies. They pushed Indians off high cliffs and killed their victims. In the form of wildcats they jumped upon man-beings and fought to the death. Jealous of Maushop, and of the love that the Indians bore toward him, now and again the Pukwudgees performed good magic, solely to make Maushop aware that their medicine was more powerful than his.
The Gentle Giant was slow to anger, yet there came a day when he could endure the tricks of the Little People no longer. He took a large tree in either hand, waded all the way around the peninsula, stooping down to inspect the shores, bending low to look into the marshes and along the reeds of the baywater. The Pukwudgees kept rabbit-still. The giant could not see them, so he enlisted his sons in the search.
The five sons, who were smaller than their father, lay down among the pine trees near Poponesset Marsh. The wind blew from the south. The reeds swayed back and forth and the giants saw this motion and did not realize that Pukwudgees, hidden among the salt grasses, were creeping nearer, nearer. Suddenly, the tiny warriors threw bad magic in the giants’ eyes, and the sons of old Maushop were cruelly blinded. With huge hands they struck at the grass and crushed a few Pukwudgees. But all the rest of the pygmy warriors escaped to a safe distance; and as the giants could no longer see them, they stood in the open and threw poisoned darts into the hides of the sons.
The young giants became so weak that they could not tise; In great suffering they waited for the coming of Maushop who, when he saw his strong sons stricken by the Little People, worked all the magic that a giant knows, then summoned the medicine men; but neither he nor any Indian could save the five blind giants.
They died beside the marshes near Poponesset Bay. Maushop lifted their young bodies and carried them to Succonesset Waters. He heaped sand over their corpses, building it into huge mounds which became small islands. He planted trees and grasses to grow on the graves of his sons. These islands are called by white men the Elizabeth Islands, or the Town of Gosnold.
The Death Of Maushop
After his children had perished, Maushop became very sad. He had never known defeat before, and he spent all his time thinking what next he should do to rid the land of Pukwudgees. He could think of nothing except that he was old and brokenhearted.
One morning, as Geesukquand the Sun-being cast handfuls of mica pebbles over the Eastern Sea, Maushop saw a small white bird riding upon the waves. As it drew nearer, the giant perceived that it was not a bird but a canoe over which hung two white skins on sticks. He waded through the sea and stooped to pick up the magic boat. Before he could touch it, sharp darts, like flung pebbles or the arrows of Pukwudgees, stung against his legs.
In fear that the vessel was an evil charm sent against him by the Little People, Maushop strode back to the Narrow Land, picked up his wife, threw her against Succonesset Point, and made his escape to the south. The magic of the Pukwudgees, or of that white-winged vessel, may have occasioned his death. He has never returned to the Place of Bays; and the Indians who love him, believe that he would come if he could.The Narrow Land: folk chronicles of old Cape Cod
The loss of Maushop was a blow to the Wampanoag people as he had been a protector and provider for them while the Pukwudgies continued to be a source of mischievousness and danger in the wilderness.