When it comes to campfire stories, there are the ones that everyone has heard and then there are the ones that are so obscure it sometimes takes traveling to distant lands to even hear the name. The Pukwudgie was one of these when immigrants and explorers from Britain heard the legends of the Wampanoag, including Squanto who recounted the stories of the Pukwudgie.
Originally, the stories told be the Wampanoag were taken at face value, and many of the creatures depicted were accepted as pure fact. And so, when the explorers heard the idea of the Pukwudgie, it was apparent only that the people living there for a long time took the story very seriously.
Settlers were warned that the creature, in its natural form would look approximately two or three feet tall at the shoulders, but that it could take many forms. They were said to be able to shape shift, and had limited mastery of the ethereal or magical elements around them. When they first appeared they tried to help the tribes of what is now Massachusetts, but would ultimately become frustrated when their plans to assist ultimately failed. When the god Maushop took care of several of the catastrophes inadvertently caused by the Pukwudgies, they became annoyed and mischievous. This eventually escalated until Maushop was annoyed enough by them to collect them in a bag and throw them around. After they landed, the survivors of the experience which left a considerable amount of them dead returned once again to meet with Maushop, but this time they were even more enraged. Not liking the idea of their comrades being killed, they began burning villages, running in in droves and killing hundreds. When Maushop once again heard of this he found himself faced with a choice. He decided to send his five sons to kill them, not wanting to do it himself. And although they fought bravely, eventually they were tricked and were led to a lake where they were shot from the shore by the treacherous creatures. Maushop of course was incredibly angry at this and spent several days running up and down the coastline killing whatever Pukwudgie he encountered.
While the story is still fantastic, there are those who have carried on the traditional stories and even said they were based partially on a real creature. And that’s what makes the story all the stranger. The pukwudgie leaders who survived are said to have decided to once again utilize their abilities as tricksters, to integrate themselves into the tribes. And eventually it is said they would have survived and integrated themselves into the new society that would one day touch down in the west.
There are still those who contend that the Pukwudgie is alive even today, and using its powers to spread mischief, though no one will know one unless they see it actually shape shift.