A Pukwudgie is a two or three foot tall troll-like being from the Native American Wampanoag. Their features resemble those of the Native Americans, but with enlarged nose, fingers and ears. Their skin is described as being grey, smooth and at times has been known to glow.
In Native American lore, Pukwudgies can appear and disappear at will, transform into other animals, use poison arrows, and can create fire at will. Pukwudgies control Tei Pai Wankas, which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed.
Native Americans believed that Puckwudgies were best left alone. When you see a Puckwudgie you are not supposed to mess with them or they will repay you by playing nasty tricks on you, or following you and causing trouble. They were once friendly to humans, but then turned against them. They are known to kidnap humans, push people off of cliffs, attack their victims with short knives and spears and to use sand to blind their victim.
Legends of the Pukwudgie began in connection to Maushop, a creation giant believed by the Wampanoag to have created most of Cape Cod. He was beloved by the people, and the Pukwudgies were jealous of the affection the Natives had for him. They tried to help the Wampanoag, but their efforts always backfired until they eventually decided to torment them instead.
They became mischievous and aggravated the Natives until they asked Quant, Maushop’s wife, for help. Maushop collected as many Pukwudgies as he could. He shook them until they were confused and tossed them around New England. Some died, but others landed, regained their minds and made their way back to Massachusetts.
Satisfied he had done his job and pleased his wife, Maushop went away for a while. In his absence, the Pukwudgies had returned. They again changed their relationship with the Wampanoags. They were no longer a nuisance, but began kidnapping children, burning villages and forcing the Wampanoag deep into the woods and killing them. Quant again stepped in, but Maushop, being very lazy, sent his five sons to fix the problem.
The Pukwudgies lured them into deep grass and shot them with magic arrows. Enraged, Quant and Maushop attacked as many as they could find and crushed them, but many escaped and scattered throughout New England again. The Pukwudgies regrouped and tricked Maushop into the water and shot him with their arrows. Some legends say they killed him while other claim he became discouraged and depressed about the death of his sons.
Pukwudgie encounters have been reported in the Freetown Fall River State Forest in Massachusetts, which includes the 227 acre Watuppa Reservation, which belongs to the Wampanoag Nation. There have been several unexplained suicides at a ledge in the state forest and that has been linked by some to the Pukwudgie lore of pushing people off of cliffs.