As you know, I listen to Midnight.FM Mondays-Fridays, 10 PM – 1 AM. During the broadcasts, I chat with others in the Discord server, paint, and take notes. Frantic notes. I am learning so much and enjoying all the guests. I make it a point to learn one new tidbit of knowledge, and tonight it was the Puk-Wudjies.
Through my online research, I’ve tracked down two variations of this magical creature. The first is deeply rooted in Native American and Northeastern folklore. The second is an offshoot of the popular Harry Potter universe. I am limiting my research to the former.
Puk-Wudjies go by different names. A lot of different names, in fact. The most common spellings are Puk-Wudjie, Puck-Wudj-Ininee, and Pukwudgie. The name translates to “person of the wilderness.” They are woodland creatures standing 4-5 feet tall. They possess human heads; however, their noses, ears, and fingers are much larger. Their skin is a smooth grey.
Native Americans believe that the Puk-Wudjies were once humans who turned against man to live in solitude in the forests. In the Algonquian folklore, they are tricksters who are dangerous. Their mischievous behavior may turn mean. The Ojibwe tribe views them as good-natured. Yes, they are tricksters, but the tricks rarely turn malicious.
Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow mentioned them in his 1855 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. They are akin to fairies and gnomes, supposedly.
I’ve never encountered a Puk-Wudjie. However, one place where I might see them is in the Freetown Fall River State Forest in Massachusetts. In 2017, the Freetown Police Department posted warning signs fearing that these magical creatures may be the cause of increased car crashes. The sign warns drivers of their presence as they appear and disappear at will. Hikers will notice the woodland creatures as they usually carry poisoned arrows in their rucksack. The signs were posted during the Puk-Wudjie mating season: April Fools’ Day.
Although some may see the sign as a prank, the police department sought a way to slow drivers down as the number of crashes had indeed increased.
Residents of Delaware seem to spot the Puk-Wudjie, as do the Wampanoag tribespeople. Maybe once we can move around the country, I may plan a road trip up and see if I can spot one. Until then, I’ll keep reading up on these fascinating woodland creatures.