Pigeon Clan Origins

retold by Richard L. Dieterle


The Pigeon Clan (Ručge Hik’ik’árajera) has always been a very small clan, which even in Radin's time (ca. 1910) was thought to have become extinct,1 but which in fact still has at least a few surviving members.2 The clan was the fourth member of the Upper or Sky Moiety, and was therefore associated with the sovereignty functions of the Thunderbird Clan — but what its exact role was is not publicly known. The personal names peculiar to the Pigeon Clan have not been sorted out from those of the Bird Clan (Upper Moiety) generally, but the following are most likely to have been names from this clan:

Heǧenįga Young Swan
Žibinik’a Shorty
Mąsuziwįga Yellow Arrow Point
Nąnažožopk’ega Swallow
Ručgenįka Little Pigeon

No waiką devoted to the origins of the Pigeon clan exists publicly. However, there are a number of "fragments" concerning the foundation of the clan which are given below:

Fragment 1. In this fragment the Pigeon Clan is treated as a second Eagle Clan:

Earthmaker created the Thunderbirds in two classes, and among the second class are the Wakąjašišiga, the Bad Thunderbirds. When Earthmaker caused the Hočąk nation to form at Red Banks, he selected two representatives from each class of Thunderbirds to meet there. They were all brothers. The eldest brother founded the Thunderbird Clan, and his second in command established the Eagle Clan. Although the third brother is said to have been an Eagle clansman too, he was in fact the founder of the Pigeon Clan. The fourth brother was the one who formed the Warrior or Hawk Clan (Wonáǧire Wąkšik). Each clan was associated with a color according to the hue of the lightning wielded by its founder: Thunderbird, red; Eagle, blue; Pigeon, yellow; and Hawk, white.1

[For a fuller account, see the Eagle Clan Origin Myth.]


Fragment 2. After the Creation Council met, their last item of business was to decide who would be chief. It was decided that the winner of a race around the world would be chief of the nation. Thunderbird, Eagle, and Hawk were certain that they would win, but unexpectedly Pigeon won. Although he was declared chief, he declined the honor out of modesty.2


Fragment 3. "According to one informant, the Pigeon Clan was borrowed from another tribe."3


Commentary. Fragment 1. In the original story, the raconteur attempted to replace the missing Pigeon Clan with a subclan of the Eagle People. This actually lead to a contradiction in which both Eagles were said to be subclans of the Thunderbird Clan, but one of which was said to have belonged together with the Warrior Clan as the second class of Thunderbirds. Clearly, the original form would have been:

The Hawk Clan usually claims both the color blue and the position as the second ranking clan; but white is the holiest and most powerful of colors, so the matter is not simple. Nevertheless, it leaves secure the identity of the Pigeon Clan's color as yellow.

Fragments 2 and 3. To say of a clan that it is a later introduction was to ensure that it was the youngest member. In myths, the youngest of any group is usually the strongest, as youth is vigor and power. This is consistent with Pigeon winning the race for the chieftainship, yet declining the honor of holding it: it shows that Pigeon is in fact the strongest, even if it is not the highest in status. In Fragment 1, however, we see the Hawk Clan attempt to take this role along with the color white, which is associated with the greatest spiritual power.

In fact, it is true that the Pigeon Clan has been a member of the nation since at least Proto-Chiwere times, ca. 1500. The Ioway have a Pigeon Clan as do the Oto (Rúqče). The Missouria have a clan that corresponds to the Pigeons called Mómi, "a people that eat no small birds which have been killed by larger ones (a recent addition to this Missouri gens, probably from another tribe)."4 Here even the story of foreign origins is retained.


Links: Thunderbirds, Pigeon, Eagle, The Creation Council, Bird Spirits, Earthmaker.


Stories: featuring Pigeon as a character: Origin of the Hočąk Chief, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Bird Spirits, The Creation Council, The Creation of Man (v. 2); mentioning pigeons: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Waruǧápara, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Lost Blanket, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Bird Origin Myth, Origin of the Hočąk Chief, The Creation Council, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The Creation of Man (v. 2), The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Gottschall: A New Interpretation; about entitlement to chieftainship: Origin of the Hočąk Chief, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Origin of the Decorah Family, The Glory of the Morning, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Snake Clan Origins; about (the origins of) the Hočąk clans: Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, The Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Snake Clan Origins, Fish Clan Origins; about the Hawk (Warrior) Clan: Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Berdache Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2); mentioning the Thunderbird Clan: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Origin of the Hočąk Chief, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, The Creation Council, Waruǧápara, The Greedy Woman, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 5), The Thunderbird; 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, 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; mentioning eagles: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), 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, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, 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, Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Turtle's Warparty (Thunderbirds, eagles, kaǧi, pelicans), 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, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna (chicken hawk), Hare Acquires His Arrows, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Blue Jay, The Shaggy Man (blackbirds), Įčorúšika and His Brothers (Loon), Roaster (woodsplitter), The Spirit of Gambling, The Big Stone (a partridge); about Earthmaker blessing or rescuing a person: The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Waruǧápara, The Seven Maidens, The Stone Heart, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins; set at Red Banks (Mógašúč): The Creation Council, Annihilation of the Hočągara II, The Great Lodge, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2, 3, 5), Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3, 8, 11, 12), The Winnebago Fort, Blue Bear, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk Arrival Myth, The Creation of Man (v. 10), Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Šųgepaga, Gatschet's Hočank hit’e ("St. Peet," "Hočąk Origins"), The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), The Seven Maidens, First Contact, Big Thunder Teaches Čap’ósgaga the Warpath.


Themes: racing around (the edge of) the world: Grandfather's Two Families, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Origin of the Hočąk Chief, The Race for the Chief's Daughter; one of the Hočąk (sub)clans originated from another tribe: Snake Clan Origins, Fish Clan Origins, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe; four brothers, each of whom founded a Hočąk clan, are associated with a different color: Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv 4, 7), Eagle Clan Origin Myth; red as a symbolic color: The Journey to Spiritland (hill, willows, reeds, smoke, stones, haze), The Gottschall Head (mouth), The Chief of the Heroka (clouds, side of Forked Man), The Red Man (face, sky, body, hill), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (neck, nose, painted stone), Redhorn's Father (leggings, stone sphere, hair), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (hair, body paint, arrows), Wears White Feather on His Head (man), The Birth of the Twins (turkey bladder headdresses), The Two Boys (elk bladder headdresses), Trickster and the Mothers (sky), Rich Man, Boy, and Horse (sky), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Spirit), Bluehorn Rescues His Sister (buffalo head), Wazųka (buffalo head headdress), The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (horn), The Brown Squirrel (protruding horn), Bear Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Deer Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (stick at grave), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks (eyes), Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (scalp, woman's hair), The Race for the Chief's Daughter (hair), The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy (hair), Redhorn Contests the Giants (hair), Redhorn's Sons (hair), The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle (hair), A Wife for Knowledge (hair), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (hair), The Hočągara Contest the Giants (hair of Giantess), A Man and His Three Dogs (wolf hair), The Red Feather (plumage), The Man who was Blessed by the Sun (body of Sun), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (body of the Warrior Clan Chief), Red Bear, Eagle Clan Origin Myth (eagle), The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (Waterspirit armpits), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty (Waterspirits), The Roaster (body paint), The Man who Defied Disease Giver (red spot on forehead), The Wild Rose (rose), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (warclub), Įčorúšika and His Brothers (ax & packing strap), Hare Kills Flint (flint), The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head (edges of flint knives), The Nannyberry Picker (leggings), The Seduction of Redhorn's Son (cloth), Yųgiwi (blanket); a class sorts into the four colors: blue, white, red, and black: Hare Kills Flint, Bear Spirits, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 7), Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Eagle Clan Origin Myth.


Notes

1 Oliver LaMère, "Winnebago Legends," Wisconsin Archeologist, ns 1, #2 (1920): 66-68 [66]. Oliver LaMère was a member of the Bear Clan.

2 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.

3 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 173.

4 James Owen Dorsey, "The Social Organization of the Siouan Tribes," The Journal of American Folk-Lore, 4, #14 (Jul. - Sep., 1891) and #15 (Oct. - Dec., 1891): 257-266, 331-342 [336-341].