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What is a Pukwudgie? These fae folk appear in legends from multiple tribes stretching all the way from Massachusetts to Indiana, and remain a key part of all cultures living in those lands today.

So what exactly is a Pukwudgie and do people still see them today? We break it down for you in our bonus episode, which you can listen to below.

Highlights from the episode

What is a Pukwudgie?

You might call a pukwudgie a cryptid, a faerie, or a legend, but reports of these creatures’ appearance make them much different than other strange entities reported in the area. Those who have seen pukwudgies describe them as troll-like, about two or three feet tall. They have large ears and noses, so they may be mistaken for dwarves or duwende when first spotted. However, what makes the pukwudgies different from their fae brethren is the sheath of porcupine spines that runs from the top of their heads all the way down the back. In fact, when you see one from behind, you may mistake it for a porcupine. Until it turns around and gives you the stink eye.

What is a pukwudgie? Becky drew one.
Pukwudgie drawing by Becky Kilimnik

Where do Pukwudgies come from?

The word “Pukwudgie” is Algonquin for “little man of the woods that vanishes.” So yes, these fellows hide out in the woods and have the ability to become invisible, and perhaps even to shapeshift. Tales of Pukwudgies appear in Lenape and Wampanoag folklore, and date back at least 9,000 years. The mythical origins of Pukwudgies comes from a Wampanoag story, that says these little creatures originated in Hockomock Swamp in Massachusetts. This area has had a reputation of being home to spirits for millenia, and it’s no coincidence it’s located in Massachusetts’ notorious Bridgewater Triangle.

Pukwudgies came out of the swamp, and according to Wampanoag legend, they had a bone to pick with the benevolent giant of Cape Code, Maushop. Apparently, pukwudgies were jealous of the affection humans had for Maushop, so they started causing trouble. Being little pains-in-the-ass, stealing food, pushing people off of cliffs, that sort of thing. The people in the area went and complained to Maushop’s wife, Granny Squannit, who relayed their gripes back to the giant himself. Maushop then asked the people to gather up all the pukwudgies they could find and bring them to him. The humans obliged, and Maushop flung the captured pukwudgies as far as he could. Perhaps this is how they ended up all the way in Indiana.

Are Pukwudgies dangerous?

Legend says yes. If you encounter a pukwudgie, leave it be. Pukwudgies are still bitter about past grievances with humans, and can cause all sorts of problems if you bother them. Usually, they’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone. At worst they’ll mess with you a little (they are tricksters, after all). But piss them off, and you could be facing serious injury.

Listen to the episode for more details!