by Richard L. Dieterle
I. Eagle is a deity with great war powers, the spirit chief of the eagles, and the totem of the Eagle Clan.1 The chief of the Eagles is also known by the name "He Who Walks upon the Light" (Hą́pamąnį́ra).2 Among the Thunderbirds of heaven, Eagle and his tribe shoot lightning that is blue in color.3 Along with Black Hawk and Hummingbird, Eagle is said to be the fastest of the spirits. However, even he was defeated by Redhorn in a race around the world.4
He Who Walks upon the Light played an important role in the foundation of the Medicine Rite. He descended to earth in a pure white manifestation, landing on the "tree of purity" (ną sąk), the maple.5 He projected his power into the center of the Creation Lodge. There he underwent the first ritual death in the rite. The Island Weight of the East shot him with a shell made of blue sky and white clouds. Eagle fell down and quivered, only to rise up again. It was he who first ejected a shell from his mouth, and after walking around the center of the lodge, he took it back into himself through his mouth. Only after this was the first human initiated into the Medicine Rite.6
Links: Redhorn, Thunderbirds, Black Hawk, Hummingbirds, Bird Spirits.
Stories: mentioning eagles: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Pigeon Clan Origins, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Trickster and the Eagle, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, The Gift of Shooting, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; about Bird Spirits: Crane and His Brothers, The King Bird, Bird Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Wears White Feather on His Head, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, Owl Goes Hunting, The Boy Who Became a Robin, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Foolish Hunter, Ocean Duck, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Quail Hunter, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Hočąk Arrival Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster and the Geese, Holy One and His Brother (kaǧi, woodpeckers, hawks), Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Turtle's Warparty (Thunderbirds, eagles, kaǧi, pelicans, sparrows), Kaǧiga and Lone Man (kaǧi), The Old Man and the Giants (kaǧi, bluebirds), The Bungling Host (snipe, woodpecker), The Red Feather, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Waruǧápara, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Black and White Moons, The Markings on the Moon, The Creation Council, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna (chicken hawk), Hare Acquires His Arrows, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (black hawk, kaǧi), Worúxega (eagle), The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (eagle), The Gift of Shooting (eagle), Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Blue Jay, The Baldness of the Buzzard, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster (buzzards), The Shaggy Man (kaǧi), The Healing Blessing (kaǧi), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (kaǧi), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Įčorúšika and His Brothers (Loon), Great Walker's Medicine (loon), Roaster (woodsplitter), The Spirit of Gambling, The Big Stone (a partridge), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, The Fleetfooted Man, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4); mentioning Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird, Waruǧápara, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Thunderbird and White Horse, Bluehorn's Nephews, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (vv. 1, 2), The Man who was a Reincarnated Thunderbird, The Thunder Charm, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, The Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, Brave Man, Ocean Duck, Turtle's Warparty, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Quail Hunter, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Redhorn's Sons, The Dipper, The Stone that Became a Frog, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Redhorn Contests the Giants, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Origin of the Hočąk Chief, The Spirit of Gambling, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Aračgéga's Blessings, Kunu's Warpath, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, The Glory of the Morning, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Big Stone, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Song to Earthmaker, The Origins of the Milky Way; pertaining to the Medicine Rite: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Messengers of Hare, The Gift of Shooting, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Maize Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, North Shakes His Gourd, East Shakes the Messenger, Testing the Slave, Peace of Mind Regained, The Island Weight Songs, Hog's Adventures, Great Walker's Warpath, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Great Walker and the Ojibwe Witches, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Claw Shooter, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Completion Song Origin, The Sweetened Drink Song, A Wife for Knowledge, The Diving Contest, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle; mentioning shells: The Gift of Shooting, The Markings on the Moon, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Wild Rose, Young Man Gambles Often (wampum), Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2) (wampum), Wolves and Humans (oyster), Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Lost Child, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 2), Turtle's Warparty, The Lost Blanket (mussel), The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads (crab).
II. "Eagle" is a name given to the personification and founder of the Eagle Clan. Earthmaker created four brothers, the founders of the four Bird Clans (Thunderbird, Eagle, Hawk, Pigeon). Eagle was the second of these brothers, and the clan that he founded is properly a subclan of the chief's own clan.7 At one point the chieftainship of the Hočągara was given to Eagle by his nephew Elk, but because the Thunderbirds had higher status, he had to relinquish it to them.8 When the Hočągara first migrated to the Wazija, Eagle was last to arrive, but before he left, he gave his blessing to those who remained behind.9
Links: Elk (II), Thunderbirds, Earthmaker, The Wazija, Bird Spirits, Black Hawk.
Stories: mentioning eagles: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Pigeon Clan Origins, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Trickster and the Eagle, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, The Gift of Shooting, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; about the origins of the Hočąk clans: Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, The Elk Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth; about entitlement to chieftainship: Origin of the Hočąk Chief, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth.
1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 ) 393.
2 Amelia Susman, Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, January, 1939) Book 8:101-108.
3 Oliver LaMère, "Winnebago Legends," Wisconsin Archeologist, ns 1, #2 (1920): 66-68 . Oliver LaMère was a member of the Bear Clan.
4 Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 115-118.
5 Susman, Notebooks, 8:101-108.
6 Susman, Notebooks, 9:100-107.
7 LaMère, "Winnebago Legends," 66-68 ; The Winnebago Tribe, 169.
8 Felix White, Sr. (Wolf Clan), "Origin Story of the Winnebago Clans," in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 15-16.
9 David Lee Smith (Thunderbird Clan), "The Migration of the Ho-Chunk People," in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 26-27.