Anishinaabe Word of The Day

Skunk (zhigaag)

Skunks are mammals in the family Mephitidae. They are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant scent from their anal glands. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration.

While related to polecats and other members of the weasel family, skunks have as their closest relatives the Old World stink badgers.[1]


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Anishinaabe Stories or Other Interesting Facts!


Aniwye was a giant man-eating skunk monster of Anishinaabe legend who killed people by breaking wind at them, causing them to become sickened and die. Aniwye was defeated by the hero Great Fisher and is often said to have been turned into an ordinary skunk by either Great Fisher or the culture hero Nanabozho, thus explaining why skunks spray. In some versions of the story Aniwye had the appearance of a giant skunk and was simply changed into a smaller and less deadly animal; in others, Aniwye was described as a man-eating giant and didn’t have the form of a skunk at all until he was killed and revived as one. “Mishi-zhigaag” or “Mi-she-shek-kak,” an alternate name for Aniwye, literally means “giant skunk.”


Related Words

Aapiji go nisidawimaagozi awe zhigaag.
The skunk is very recognizable by its odor.

Gichi-mashkawimaagozi ‘aw zhigaagosh gaa-piindigoonang.
That skunk that entered into our house smells strong.