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Sunday, 15 September 2013

Wiwiliámecq’ and the New England Whale-Eater

                                (Photo credit, Gerry Biron: 2 of them are shown)
I found something interesting while surfing the net and unfortunately it involves another ambiguous use of "Monster" names

Name: Weewillmekq
Tribal affiliation:
Maliseet, Passamaquoddy
Alternate spellings: Wiwilomeq, Wiwilmekw, Wiwilmeku, Weewilmekq, Wiwillmekq', Wiwilameq, Wiwilemekw, Wiwila'mecq, Wewillemuck, Wiwiliamecq', Wiwil'mekq, Wiwilmeku, Wee-Will-l'mick, Wee-wil-li-ah-mek, Wee-wil-'l-mekqu'
Pronunciation: wee-will-uh-meck-w
Lake monster, serpent
Related figures in other tribes: Axxea (Cheyenne), Apotamkin (Passamaquoddy) Axxea Although this monster features in several Wabanaki tales, little information about it has survived. It was certainly a water monster, but is variously described as resembling a giant snail, leech or slug, worm, or alligator. Some Wabanaki people believe Weewillmekq was actually the same creature as Kci Athusoss, but in other legends the two monsters were said to fight one another.
[Kci-Athussos is an underwater horned serpent, common to the legends of most Algonquian tribes. It is said to lurk in lakes and eat humans. Its Maliseet-Passamaquoddy name literally means Great Serpent.]

Weewillmekq Stories

The Magic of the Weewillmekq' * The Dance of Old Age:
    Stories about the magic healing powers of the horns of the Wiwilomeq.
*How a Woman Lost a Gun for Fear of the Weewillmekq':
    19th-century story about a boastful woman who was not as brave as she claimed to be.
*Jipijka'm and Weewillmekq':
    Tales about the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet horned serpents.
*Weewilmekq and Kitchi-at'Husis:
    Story of a fight between two Wabanaki water monsters.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Giants of the Dawnland:
    Good collection of Wabanaki legends told by a Penobscot Indian author.
On the Trail of Elder Brother:
    Another good book of traditional stories told by a Mi'kmaq author and illustrator.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Maliseet and other Algonquian tribes.
When the Chenoo Howls:
    Eerie collection of Native American ghost stories and monster tales.

In this case we do have a traditional Horned serpent which is alternatively said to be like a snail or a worm, the horns in this case meaning to be like snail's horns. The length of this one is given as approximately 30-50 feet and it is probably based on the standard Longneck (although mistaken impressions of other natural phenomena and other traditions got grafted onto it). The other component is the Alligator like form that was one of the originally different things that got grafted onto the tradition, and the Alligator like one is the one depicted in the carving at the top of this entry. It is twice the length of the other, 60-100 feet long according to other references.

George Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures describes the creature in this way:


FRESHWATER MONSTER of northeastern North America.
Etymology: Abnaki-Penobscot and Malecite- Passamaquoddy (Algonquian), “snail.” Variant names: Weewilmekq, Wiwil’mékq, Wiwilmeku.
Physical description: Serpentine. Length, 30–40 feet. Soft horns. Behavior: Lurks under waterfalls. Habitat: Both freshwater and saltwater. Distribution: Boyden Lake, Maine; New Brunswick, Canada. Significant sighting: The eighteenth-century Penobscot shaman Old John Neptune (or, more probably, a similarly named ancestor) battled an enemy Micmac warrior who took the form of his familiar spirit, a huge water snake, on the east side of Boyden Lake. Sources: Charles Leland, Algonquin Legends of New England (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1884), pp. 324–329, 345–347; Albert S. Gatschet, “Water-Monsters of American Aborigines,” Journal of American Folklore 12 (1899): 255–260; Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, Old John Neptune and Other Maine Indian Shamans (Portland, Me.: Southworth- Anthoensen Press, 1945), pp. 39–48.

In other words the battle would have looked like THIS:

And both types of Sea Serpent are reported in the Massachussets Bay area. We have had a few mentions of the situation recently with this as an outstanding example:

 #72: South Pacific [position undisclosed (Actually NW of the Marquesas)], 1852. A whaling vessel [The Monongahela-DD] encountered something that captain and crew did not recognize as being any sort of whale. It was black, serpentine and moved with a snake-like motion. After some debate, they decided to chase the thing as they would a whale, harpooning it and killing it. It was 103' long. with a 6' diameter neck, widening to 8' at "shoulders". The body was about 16' at its broadest. The tail diminished to a point. The head was flat-topped and elongated. Its tongue was tipped with a "heart-shape". It had 94 teeth. Two spout holes, and four webbed paws. The back was black, the sides brown, and the belly yellow. They dismembered the thing as they would a Whale, but decided not to try to bring any of the bulk of it home. [I believe that some accident also occurred which flushed the evidence-ITS]. Oh well, such is Cryptozoology. [The Monongahela was later wrecked with a loss of all hands after the message was sent home by another ship in a parcel of letters. The authenticity of the letters was vouched for by the captain's surviving relatives and the letters together with the accompanying affidavits are now in the archives of the New Bedford Whaling museum. Several important points which needed to be specified!-DD]

#73: New Bedford, MA, 1964. An animal 50' long was seen just 50-100' off starboard. Water was "Flat and calm as a mill pond". The head was shaped alligator-ish, with lumps all along its midline, like camel humps. Head was also huge, about 20' long. The thing had a blow-hole, but was without a discernible neck. Body was dark but with white spotting. Its tail was like a lobster's and it flapped it upon the water. It paralleled the boat for some time and seemed "friendly". [Hey boys, come on in; the water's fine...]. [This one sighted by the Blue Sea was likely a whale but it is usually included together with the next one because both have "Alligator heads"-DD]

#74: New Bedford, MA, 1957. A creature with a very large body [of which 40' could be seen out of the water], was estimated at weighing over 35-40 tons. It had a seal-like shaped body but a long neck which held its head 26' out of the water. The head was "alligator-ish". It sported a mane of bristly hair.[The Noreen report, probably a "Whale-Eater" or the same as the Monongahela creature, and the midline crest is more ordinarily called a fin-DD]

The head and neck Periscope of the Whale-Eater type is commonly estimated to measure 25 feet, 10 feet of neck and 15 for the head, and this is also given in the case of the Monongehela creature. Hence it is not really the long neck that is so distinctive as it is the big head. Sightings of creatures with the head "the size of a rowboat" are uncommon but are on record off both New England and also Scandinavia, and sometimes in association with trains of the very large humps that could be due to pods of whales (hence the very largest "Super-otters" of absolutely fantastic dimensions) So once again we have our Whale-eater out chasing whales.

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