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Moqwaio is a wolf spirit and the lord of the Dead in Menominee mythology


His name literally means "Wolf" in Menominee; Na'qpote, another name of his, means "good hunter." Alternate spellings: Mo'qwaio, Moquaio, Mokwayo, Maqweo, Moqwais, Moqwaoi, Muh'wäse, Muhwasw, Mahwaew, Moqwai. Also known as: Na'qpote.


In Menominee, it sounds like muh-hwow, but it usually gets anglicized to muh-kwow or muh-kwy-oh.


Moqwaio is usually represented in the physical form of a wolf.


Moqwaio is the beloved brother of the Menominee culture hero Manabus. In some versions, Moqwaio is the twin brother of Manabush; in others, he is a wolf spirit adopted by Manabush as his brother. Moqwaio was murdered by water spirits, touching off a violent chain of events that included the destruction of the earth by flood. Afterwards, Manabush was unable to bring his brother back to life, so Moqwaio became ruler of the underworld. Moqwaio is portrayed as a good and kind being who takes good care of the land of the dead.


Mokwayo, the Wolf Brother, and the Rolling Head

Ahusband and wife once dwelled alone together in the woods until they had two sons. The older brother was named Wisakedjak, the younger, Mokwayo. They were happy until one day the husband realized his wife was in love with a serpent that lived in the woods. He set out to kill the snake and its family, and then fed his wife their blood. As further punishment, he cut off her head and then ran away to become a star in the sky. The head began to roll across the ground, chasing the two sons, until a crane dropped it into a river. Eventually, the dunked head would become known as the fish called sturgeon. The older brother had other monsters to slay, and he left Mokwayo to seek his own way. Left to his own devices, Mokwayo turned into a wolf but was killed by water serpents. They committed the further outrage of using Mokwayo’s furry skin to cover the door of their lodge. Wisakedjak soon took revenge by slaying their leader, and the serpents fought back by sending a massive flood. Wisakedjak built a raft to survive, and thus brought on the beginning of the time of humans.

Manabozho's Wolf Brother

When Manabozho had accomplished the works for which Kishä' Ma'nido sent him down to the earth, he went far away and built his wigwam on the northeastern shore of a large lake, where he took up his abode. As he was alone, the good manidos concluded to give him for a companion his twin brother, whom they brought to life and called Naq'pote (which signifies an expert marksman). He was formed like a human being, but, being a manido, could assume the shape of a wolf, in which form he hunted for food. Manabozho was aware of the anger of the bad manidos who dwelt beneath the earth, and warned his brother, the Wolf, never to return home by crossing the lake, but always to go around along the shore. Once after the Wolf had been hunting all day long he found himself directly opposite his wigwam, and being tired, concluded to cross the lake. He had not gone halfway across when the ice broke, so the Wolf was seized by the bad manidos, and destroyed. Manabozho at once knew what had befallen his brother, and in his distress mourned for four days. Every time that Manabozho sighed the earth trembled, which caused the hills and ridges to form over its surface. Then the shade of Moquaio, the Wolf, appeared before Manabozho, and knowing that his brother could not be restored Manabozho told him to follow the path of the setting sun and become the chief of the shades in the Hereafter where all would meet. Manabozho then secreted himself in a large rock near Mackinaw. Here his uncles, the people, for many years visited Manabozho, and always built a long lodge, the mitä'wiko'mik, where they sang; so when Manabozho did not wish to see them in his human form he appeared to them in the form of a little white rabbit, with trembling ears, just as he had first appeared to Nokomis.

See also

Related figures in other tribes: Chibiabos (Anishinabe), Matiguas (Abenaki)