Elk (Hųwą)

by Richard L. Dieterle

I. Elk (I) is the spirit chief of the elks. In primordial times when Hare was recruiting food animals for the humans, Elk thought he should be the hunter rather than the hunted since he had long sharp teeth. Hare caused him to lose these weapons so that he eventually consented to be meat for human hunters.1

Elks are said to be brothers to the deer.2

Links: Hare.

Stories: in which elks occur as characters: Elk Clan Origin Myth, The Animal who would Eat Men (v. 1), The Elk's Skull, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Deer Clan Origin Myth, The Creation Council, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Origin of the Hocąk Chief, Little Fox and the Ghost (v. 2); See The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits.


II. Elk (II), possibly identical to Elk (I), is the chief of the four elks that founded the Hocąk Elk Clan. Some say that when he founded the Elk Clan he originally had wings and descended from the heavens by Earthmaker's command.3 However, the Elk Clan itself holds that the spirits of humans told Earthmaker that they would like to live thourgh elks because they were morally perfect. So he created four elk brothers that humans lived through and who found the Elk Clan.4 When the clans first met at the Creation Council to establish the Hocank nation, Elk was in charge of the seating arrangements.5 In the beginning the chieftainship of the Hocangara was established by a race around the world in which Elk participated. Pigeon won the first race, but he declined the prize. Elk won the second race, but out of modesty, he gave the chieftainship to his uncle Eagle.6

Links: Earthmaker, Eagle (II), Pigeon.

Stories: featuring Elk (II) as a character: Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Origin of the Hocąk Chief.


1 Oliver LaMère (Bear Clan) and Harold B. Shinn, Winnebago Stories (New York, Chicago: Rand, McNally and Co., 1928) 87-89; Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 111-113.

2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 201.

3 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.

4 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe 202.

5 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe 197.

6 Felix White, Sr. (Wolf Clan), "Origin of the Winnebago Chief," in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 17.