rocks of Mohegan Hill are the home of the Makiawisug, or Little
People. After nightfall, the call of the Whip-poor-will signals
their arrival. They are good spirits, but the Mohegans know they
must be treated with respect, according to tradition. It is important
to leave baskets of food, such as corn cakes and berries, or even
meat in the woods for them. Wearing moccasin flowers for shoes,
they gather the gifts at night. In fact, Makiawisug means "whip-poor-will
They have their own rules of etiquette. Those who see the Little
People should not look directly at them, they think it's rude. If
they catch you staring, they might point a finger at you, rooting
you to the ground, while they take your belongings. Another rule
is don't speak of them in the summer, when they are most active.
But in return for kindness, they taught the Mohegan people how
to grow corn and use healing plants. They keep the earth well and
grant favors for those who honor their ways.
When the English settlers came and disrupted the traditional
way of Mohegan life, many forgot to help the Makiawisug. As a result,
many Mohegans and Makiawisug fell ill. At this time of Bad Spirits,
there lived a medicine woman. One night, during a terrible storm,
she heard the whip-poor-will. When she looked outside, the bird
wasn't to be found, but a small boy stood in the rain on her doorstep.
It turned out he was a grown Makiawisug named Weegun, who told her
to come help someone who was sick. Though the storm was fierce,
he led her through the woods a long way.
Suddenly, the storm seemed to stop as they began to descend
into the ground. They were in the realm of the Little People. Weegun
led her to a beehive shaped chamber of rocks. Inside, a very old
woman lay in bed, very ill. The Makiawisug told the medicine woman
that this was Granny Squannit, who must be made well. Granny Squannit
is very powerful, and she is known to cause storms when she argues
with her husband. Her illness was the reason for this storm. Worse,
healers often look to Granny Squannit when the need is dire for
help in healing, and here she was the one who was sick. The medicine
woman treated Granny Squannit for nearly a moon before she got better.
In return for restoring Granny Squannit's health, the Makiawisug
gave the medicine woman a basket of gifts and told her to remember
them. She was blindfolded and taken back home.
Only when she returned did she open the basket. Inside were
quartz crystals, painted skins and bunches of herbs.
little people were called Makiaweesug by the Mohegan,
and those who were especially perceptive could see them sometimes
in the woods. (photo By Jessica Aldridge)