Hiawatha, an Indian with magic powers who grows up in the Lake Superior region and becomes a prophet and guide. From the body of a stranger he conquers, Hiawatha gets corn. He defeats disease-bearing Pearl-Feather with the help of a woodpecker, whose feather tuft he streaks with red. He invents picture writing. Following the death of Minnehaha and the coming of the white man, Hiawatha leaves his tribe to travel through the Portals of the Sunset to the Land of the Hereafter.
Nokomis, who falls to Earth from the full moon to become the mother of Wenonah and the counselor of Hiawatha.
Wenonah, who, despite her mother’s warning, listens to the wooing of faithless Mudjekeewis and bears him a son, Hiawatha. When Mudjekeewis deserts her, she dies of grief.
Mudjekeewis, the immortal and fickle West Wind. He battles his vengeful son for three days, then sends him back to his people, as the prophet promised by the Great Spirit, to teach and unite them.
Minnehaha, the lovely daughter of a Dacotah arrowmaker, whom Hiawatha sees on his journey to avenge his mother’s death, and whom he marries despite Nokomis’ advice to chose a woman of his own tribe. She dies of fever during a winter famine.
Pearl-Feather, the evil magician who sends fever, pestilence, and disease to the Indians and is vulnerable only at the roots of his hair.
Kwasind, the strong friend of Hiawatha who helps him dredge the rivers of roots and sandbars and rid the lake of its greatest menace, the sturgeon.
Chibiabos, a singer of love songs.
Iagoo, the teller of fanciful tales who entertains at Hiawatha’s wedding feast.