Literal meaning: ‘great spirit’. The supreme deity of the Algonquins, the most widely diffused of Indian peoples. Kici Manitu created heaven, earth, men, animals, and plants. Mankind he made from earth and a spirit he breathed into the body, but the rest of creation proceeded through intermediaries.
According to the Arapahoes, a western Algonquin tribe, ‘the ancestor with the sacred pipe’ wandered over the huge watery waste at the beginning of the world. This was Kici Manitu, ‘weeping and fasting’, as he searched for the place where earth would arise. With a loud voice he called together all water birds and reptiles, the creatures that already existed, and asked for assistance. So it was that the turtle knew where earth could be found, and the water fowl were able to bring back portions in their bills. Kici Manitu dried the clay upon his pipe, made the world, and took delight in its beauty. Even the arrival of Bitter Man, the personification of disease, old age, and death, could not mar that moment.
On the other hand, the Delaware tribe visualizes the universe as ‘the true Big-House’, the centre post of which is the staff of Kici Manitu, ‘the father’.