The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights

Charles E. Brown

"In the early [nineteen-]thirties this hill was known to the local Winnebago as Shohetaka, meaning "horse hill." This eminence was a sacred place, or shrine, to which the local Indians went to fast and dream and to receive the "blessings" (magic power) of a spirit horse which on misty days was to be seen in the hazy clouds rising above the hill. This horse did not always remain in a stationary position, but was sometimes seen to move and was heard to whinny."1

"Eagle Heights was the place of abode in Indian days of a 'spirit horse' whose form could be seen to rise above this high hill on misty days. To this vicinity the Indians went to fast and pray and to obtain the 'blessings' of this spirit."2

"The Winnebago name for Eagle Heights was Sho-Heta-Ka (horse hill). They believed that this highest hill on the shore of Lake Mendota was inhabited by a spirit horse. It could be heard neighing and stamping its feet at times. On cloudy or misty days its form could sometimes be seen on top of the hill. Being a sacred place some of the Indians went to this hill to fast and dream and to gain inspiration and power from this spirit horse. No Indian has seen the horse for many years."3

Commentary. "Shohetaka, etc." — this is for Šųkxetega, "the Horse."

Links: Horses.

Stories: mentioning horses: The Big Eater, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Sun and the Big Eater, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride, James’ Horse, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Boy who Flew, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, They Owe a Bullet, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2).

Themes: a person who fasts receives blessings from the spirits: The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Nightspirits Bless Jobenągiwįxka, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, Redhorn's Sons, The Boy Who Became a Robin, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, The Seer, Maize Comes to the Hocągara, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Thunderbird, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, Great Walker's Medicine, Šųgepaga, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Heną́ga and Star Girl, A Man's Revenge, Aracgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits, The Man Who Lost His Children to a Wood Spirit, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Man who Defied Disease Giver, White Thunder's Warpath, Black Otter's Warpath, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Diving Contest, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Holy Song, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Blessing of Šokeboka, The Completion Song Origin, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, The Nightspirits Bless Ciwoit’éhiga, Sunset Point, Song to Earthmaker, First Contact (v. 1).


1 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Indian Legends of Historic and Scenic Wisconsin, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1947) 60.

2 Charles E. Brown, Lake Mendota Historical Excursion. Second Issue (Madison: Wisconsin State Historical Museum, 1926) 11. Charles E. Brown, Lake Mendota Prehistory, History and Legends (Madison: The Wisconsin Archeological Society, 1933) 6.

3 Charles E. Brown, Lake Mendota Indian Legends (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1927) 6.