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Kids' Activities

Jane Lind presents ...

Wisakyjak and the New World

Told by Adam Ballantyne
Woodcuts by Annie Downes Catterson
Transcribed and edited by Prentice G. Downes

Theme: Creation/Origin (Native) Legends, Ages 5 to 8

Wisakyjak and the New World

Wisakyjak (wee-sak--ee-jack), trickster and friend in the great Woodland Cree culture of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, lived long ago in the time when animals and people could talk to each other. Other tribes also have a character like Wisakyjak, but they call him by a different name.

In this Cree foundation legend, Ballantyne tells how Wisakyjak started the new earth before white people came. The giant lynxes killed Wisakyjak's brother, the wolf. By changing himself into a tree beside the wolf's body, Wisakyjak tricked the lynxes and he killed two of them, but the other two escaped and jumped into the water. They were so big they caused the water to rise and flood the land.

The water rose higher and higher so Wisakyjak chose two of all the animals to go onto his raft with him and they were surrounded by water. A huge beaver appeared and bumped the raft with such force that the raft was in danger of breaking apart, so Wisakyjak threw a stone at the beaver and killed it.

Wisakyjak decided he must find land if they were to be saved, so one by one he sent out an animal to the bottom to get some mud. Finally the muskrat was successful in bringing a little ball of mud. Wisakyjak blew on the mud until it became large enough that all the animals could live on it.

He killed a giant frog and used the skin to conceal himself and with a sharp stick he killed the other two giant lynxes and thus the new earth began.


1. Why does the kingfisher have a sharp, short bill?

2. What happened to Wisakyjak's friend, the wolf?

3. How did Wisakyjak finally make a new earth?

4. How did Wisakyjak get rid of the lynxes?

from the
Theme Catalogue and Teaching Guide for Children's Books
written for Penumbra Press by Jane Lind
© Jane Lind

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