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American Gods Wiki

"Where are we?" asked Shadow. "Am I on the tree? Am I dead? Am I here? I thought everything was finished. What's real?"
"Yes," said Whiskey Jack.
"'Yes'? What kind of answer is 'Yes'?"
"It's a good answer. True answer, too."

Shadow and Whiskey Jack, Chapter Eighteen

Whiskey Jack is one of the culture heroes of Native American mythology. In the novel, it is implied that he is the same as the Lakota spirit Inktomi.


Chapter Twelve[]

Shadow first encounters Whiskey Jack when he and Wednesday escape Mr. Town by going Backstage. Whiskey Jack lives in a mobile home on Lakota land, where he goes by the name "Inktomi." John Chapman is also visiting and they eat dinner while they discuss the oncoming war between the Old Gods and the New Gods with both Chapman and Whiskey Jack refusing to join either side.

Whiskey Jack starts talking to Shadow about death and Shadow's dreams and Thunderbirds. Whiskey Jack brings up Laura's not-dead state and the Buffalo and offers to help when Shadow finds his "tribe." Whiskey Jack then offers to trade his nephew's '81 Buick for Wednesday's Winnebago they left Backstage. As Chapman leaves with Shadow and Wednesday, Whiskey Jack tells Wednesday to never come back.

Chapter Eighteen[]

In the void of nothingness, Shadow hears a voice call to him. Whiskey Jack warns Shadow that they are coming for him. Shadow doesn't want to be bothered but accepts Whiskey Jack's offering of a beer. They are on Whiskey Jack's porch as he tells Shadow about Harry Bluejay's death from a diabetic coma while driving. Whiskey Jack explains to Shadow how America is no place for gods because the land is god here. Shadow tells him that the gods are planning on going to war with each other but Whiskey Jack says it will be a bloodbath instead. Shadow realizes the truth and that it is not a war between Old gods and New, but a two-man con. He takes his leave with Whiskey Jack reminding him that gods die when they are forgotten but neither he nor the land are going anywhere.

Chapter Twenty[]

Shadow returns to Lakeside and finds himself trapped under the ice as he realizes the bodies of all the missing kids over the last hundred or so years are down at the bottom of the lake. He tries to find his way out from under the still frozen ice and is soon pulled free. He sees Whiskey Jack and the Buffalo Man walking away before he loses consciousness.

"House on the Rock (episode)"[]

At the House on the Rock, Wednesday asks Mr. Nancy if some of the old gods like Whiskey Jack have arrived. Nancy replies that they did not come.


Whiskey Jack is a down-to-earth, realist, slightly bitter and pessimistic entity. He was marked by how his people (the Native Americans) were treated by the "white men" and as a result often mocks the latter or reminds those around him of what they did. He likes to live away from human activity and crowds, only getting near human settlements for personal reasons (he stayed among the Lakota people due to his relationship with Harry Bluejay, and after his death retired to the wilderness). He is a benevolent entity, always trying to help those that come to him, but he is far from being all-loving and his "help" towards those he dislikes or deems "beyond help" is merely superficial politeness, interlaced with subtle mockery and harsh criticism.

Whiskey Jack is staying distant from the events surrounding the war between the gods, keeping note of what is going on but refusing to get involved and ultimately not caring about the issue of the war: contrary to the Old Gods, he is tied to the land itself and does not risk to fade away anytime soon, he was there before they came and he will be there after they disappear. He believes that fighting in this battle is a lost cause, as the disappearance of gods is a natural process that cannot be fought.

Physical appearance[]

Whiskey Jack is a middle-aged man with a skin the color of red clay (the Author's Preferred Text adds that it is a "dark skin"), sharp eyes and a mouth "like a knife-slash" (later referred to as a "knife-wound mouth"). His hair is said to be long and gray, and his voice "roughened by wood smoke and cigarettes". He wears blue jeans, moccasins and an undershirt as gray as his hair.


Whiskey Jack is apparently a very good cook, serving Shadow, John Chapman and Mr. Wednesday an excellent wild turkey stew.

Whiskey Jack seems to possess some forms of prescience, psychometry and telepathy. He knew of the arrival of Mr. Wednesday and Shadow before they reached his hill, he felt that Shadow was hunting for something and had a debt to pay, he perceived Shadow's dream of the thunder-birds, and at one point during their first meeting he learned everything about Shadow's wife and his desire to find an eaglestone merely by touching his face. He also used this contact to have a brief telepathic conversation with the man.

Whiskey Jack can move his home anywhere in North America, and in Chapter Eighteen was able to reach into the Nothing to pull back Shadow from it and have a conversation with him.


"White men"[]

Whiskey Jack has a strong disdain for what he calls "white men": the Europeans that came to North America and their descendants. He dislikes them for how they treated his people (the Native Americans), for how they declared a war on them and broke the treaties they signed with them. He mocks them for their inability to travel anywhere and their habit to get lost if they do not have signs put up everywhere.

Neil Gaiman confirmed on his Tumblr that Whiskey Jack's definition of "white men" was very broad and does include people of colour, hence why he called Shadow Moon a "white man". [1] As a result, Whiskey Jack might call "white man" anyone that is not a Native American or of Native descent.

Mr. Wednesday[]

Whiskey Jack does not like or appreciate Mr. Wednesday. He treats him in a snarky and sarcastic way, and he refuses to help him in his war, that he considers foolish and a lost cause (according to him, the new gods have already won). He even mockingly invites him to return for a meal after he is defeated (an offer he later retracts). Despite his great dislike of him, Whiskey Jack still helps Mr. Wednesday when he arrives at his house: letting him inside his home, sharing food and cigarettes with him, helping him find a new car... However it is clear that this help is merely politeness: the car exchange is done specifically to annoy Mr. Wednesday, and when he leaves Whiskey Jack tells him to not come back, that he is not welcome in his house.

John Chapman[]

Whiskey Jack is visibly a good friend of John Chapman. When Shadow and Mr. Wednesday arrived in Whiskey Jack's mobile home, John Chapman was already inside, about to share a meal with Whiskey Jack, even having brought apple cider. John Chapman also gladly gives services to Whiskey Jack and knows quite well Harry Bluejay. While not sharing Chapman's dislike of Paul Bunyan, Whiskey Jack does consider John Chapman superior to the mythical lumberjack since planting trees is better than cutting them.

Paul Bunyan[]

Whiskey Jack does not share John Chapman's dislike of Paul Bunyan. Whiskey Jack says that Paul Bunyan is okay by him: he loved his ride at the Mall of America, and the fact he never truly existed merely means that he never cut down trees, which is something Whiskey Jack appreciates (though he adds that planting trees is better).

Shadow Moon[]

At first Whiskey Jack seems quite dismissive of Shadow Moon, talking to Mr. Wednesday instead of him during their first meeting and lumping him with Mr. Wednesday as "lost white men". However, as they share the meal, Whiskey Jack takes interest in Shadow, considering that he is not beyond help contrary to Mr. Wednesday and revealing that he felt echoes of his dream about Wakinyau. He inquires about his situation and uses his powers to discover about Shadow's debt and his wife. Despite Mr. Wednesday's insistance that he leaves Shadow alone, Whiskey Jack still gives him advice on how to pay his debt and deal with his wife, notably by warning him through the story of Fox and Wolf that it is better to let her stay among the dead than to bring her back among the living. At the end of their first meeting Whiskey Jack has a small telepathic conversation with Shadow, so that Mr. Wednesday would not hear it: he asks him about what the buffalo told him, and tells him to return once he has found his tribe, promising that he could help.


Whiskey Jack is one of the rare people that acknowledges the existence of the buffalo. When speaking with Shadow through their minds, he asks him what the buffalo told him in his dream and upon being answered "Believe" thinks it is a good advice.


Cultural background[]

Wisakedjak is a manitou spirit of northern Algonquian and Dene legends. A trickster crane-spirit, Wisakedjak usually appears in the role of a creator of animals or geographical locations, many stories depicting him as the maker of the world (either on his own, or through powers given to him by the Creator). He is also often portrayed as the entity responsible for the historical flood which destroyed most of humanity and the rebuilding of the world afterward. His name has numerous variations, including "Weesack-kachack", "Weesageechak" "Wisagatcak", "Wis-kay-tchach", "Wisakketchak", and many others. [2]

Wisakedjak is also a culture hero in the Cree tribe, where he is perceived as a benevolent and humorous spirit, as well as a friend to mankind. For them, this clownish shapeshifter has for role to teach people about nature and the meaning of life. While some say Wisakedjak left when the White Men came to America, others say he still lives among humans, always taking new disguises even to this day. [3] The genealogy of Whiskey Jack changes depending on the tribe: for some he was created by the Great Spirit to be a teacher to humankind, for others he was the son of the Earth, and a third version claims he was the son of a Rolling Head monster (disembodied, man-eating, undead heads) and was forced to kill his own mother to survive. Many legends also present Wisakedjak as having a little brother, Mahikan, the Wolf, who was killed by either water lynxes or horned serpents, which made them earn Wisakedjak's bitter enmity. [4]

Notes and trivia[]

  • "Whiskey Jack" is not actually the character's name, but the result of Shadow mishearing his true name, Wisakedjak. Shadow only starts understanding the true pronunciation of Wisakedjak upon hearing Harry Bluejay pronounce it.
  • Whiskey Jack insists on using proper Native American names to designate objects and places, calling South Dakota "Lakota land" and a Winnebago car a "Ho Chunk".
  • Whiskey Jack in the novel might or might not be the same as Inktomi from Lakota legends. Upon being picked up by a Lakota woman in Chapter Twelve, Shadow learns that the locals call Whiskey Jack "Inktomi" and that she "thinks" that it is actually the "same guy". However this is put in doubt by how Mr. Wednesday insists that Whiskey Jack never was Lakota but merely pretends to be, and by how Whiskey Jack only came to live among the Lakotas for Harry Bluejay, quickly leaving after his death.
    • Iktomi, or Inktomi, is a trickster spirit and culture hero of the Lakota people, a mischievious shape-shifter that appears frequently as either a spider or a man. He is sometimes considered to be an equivalent of Wisakedjak.