Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Letao and Jemeliwut

Again and again when hearing and reading Marshallese legends, the name of Letao is mentioned: Letao, the famous trickster of the Marshall Islands. Often, now, he is seen as human, but he was originally thought of as a god.

He and Jemeliwut, his brother and companion through many adventures, were direct descendants of the original creationary god Lowa, who was said to have made the world. Lowa had a son Wullep, and Letao and Jemeliwut were born from Wullepéthey popped from a boil on his leg or jumped from his forehead, stories differ. The boys received magic powers from Lijebake, the Great Mother Turtle, and went traveling from atoll to atoll in the Ralik and Ratak chains, and on to Kiribati, being mischievous, and occasionally helpful.

Stories about another brother Ben, and Jemeliwut's daughter Leburak are also included in this section, to keep the family together.

Letao was last heard of causing trouble amongst some washer-women in Oklahoma in the 1950's. He is a character people love to tell stories about.

[Next Page]      [Back to Table of Contents]

Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions Second edition. Albury:

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

select from the following...
World War II

Digital Micronesia-An Electronic Library & Archive is provided free of charge as an advertising-free information service for the world community. It is being maintained by Dirk HR Spennemann, Associate Professor in Cultural Heritage Management,Institute of Land, Water and Society and School of Environmental & Information Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia. The server space and technical support are provided by Charles Sturt University as part of its commitment to regional engagement. Environmental SciencesInformation Sciences

© Dirk Spennemann 1999– 2005
Marshall Islands Kosrae CNMI Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Wake Pohnpei FSM Federated States of Micronesia Yap Chuuk Marshall Islands politics public health environment culture WWII history literature XXX Cultural Heritage Management Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences CNMI German Colonial Sources Mariana Islands Historic Preservation Spennemann Dirk Spennemann Dirk HR Spennemann Murray Time Louis Becke Jane Downing Downing