A Pukwudgie is a 2-or-3-foot-tall (0.61 or 0.91 m) troll-like 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, 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 Puckwudgies were best left alone. When you see a Puckwudgie 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.”
Pukwudgie encounters have been reported in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest in Massachusetts, which includes the 227-acre (0.92 km2) Watuppa Reservation, which belongs to the Wampanoag Nation. Several unexplained suicides at a ledge in the state forest have been linked by some to the Pukwudgie lore of pushing people off cliffs.
Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana is a hotspot for Pukwudgie activity.
Round Rock’s Hairy Man Festival is based on a human boy who grew into a wild hermit. After his death, he vengefully haunted Hairy Man Road. Some locals claim that he summoned a troll, using old Nordic Runes to help him; it is that troll who resides on Hairy Man Road, still there after the hermit’s death. He causes accidents and misfortune to those who dare travel Hairy Man Road by bicycle at night.
In Search Of Puckwudgies:
Recently, we journeyed to Freetown, Massachusetts, a small community located in a portion of the state known as The Bridgewater Triangle. The triangle has gained notoriety as a hot spot to paranormal investigators, UFO hunters and crypto-zoologists across the country. And apparently this area has been a locale for strange phenomena before the first European settlers arrived.
The Wampanoag tribe has a long oral history of this area going back some ten thousand years. Among the lore is an interesting tale of a creative giant named Maushop, who, according to legend, was responsible for creating Cape Cod and performing other great deeds for the Native Americans of Massachusetts. But in all of this joy and happiness lies a hidden malevolence: a pint-sized model of rottenness driven by jealousy and revenge known as the Puckwudgie.
Puckwudgies are described as two to three feet tall and resemble a troll in appearance. One interesting plot twist to the lore is that Puckwudgies did not start out as malevolent beings. At first, their role was beneficial and helpful to the Indians. But at some point the Puckwudgies became jealous of Maushop, his wife Quant and the favor the Wampanoag showed them. Soon the little helpers became a dangerous nuisance, burning homes, kidnapping and killing Native Americans. The legend goes on to reveal that Native Americans asked Quant for assistance with the Puckwudgies. She then told Maushop of the troubles, and he helped by shaking and scattering the little meanies all over New England. Some perished as a result, but the ones that survived returned to seek revenge. With a escalated voracity, the Puckwudgies attacked Native American villages.
Once again natives went to Quant for help, and again she spoke to her husband. This time Mashaup, being lazy, sent his three sons to deal with the situation. But the Puckwudgies were ready; they lured the three wariors into a tall grass and shot them dead with poisoned arrows. Maushop and his wife Quant, in a rage, went about destroying every Puckwudgie they could find. Unfortunately for us, the legend states that some escaped and they are rumored to inhabit the woods of New England.
In the last twenty years alone, there have been numerous claimed sightings of Puckwudgies. The physical descriptions from each witness bear striking similarities. Three of theses sightings were reported to happen in the Bridgewater State Forest. And the last, and most recent was in a cemetery in New Hampshire.
Unfortunately, during our visit to the Bridgewater Triangle, we were unable to establish whether or not Puckwudgies are mean, misunderstood or even exist. Our visit to the state park lasted for several hours in one of the areas where a Puckwudgie was reportedly sighted. We even wandered around the woods along many of the marked trails. However nothing out of the ordinary ever materialized.
Have individuals witnessed these small but dangerous characters from North America’s past? And if by some chance, they misidentified another living thing for a Puckwudgie, what was it? These questions still remain.