The Story of the Thunder Names
by Sam Blowsnake
Hočąk-English Interlinear Text
(300) Earthmaker sent four men here who came from above, and once they had come, what they did was in all these names. To this day still, the characteristics of the Thunderbirds, and what they did, for all these there were names, my father told me. From this coming of the four men from above, there is a name, "He Who Comes from Above" (Wągejáhuga); and the name that the women have is, "She Who Comes from Above" (Wągejahúwįga). And the four men from above that Earthmaker sent down, since they came like spirits, therefore there is a name, "Spirit Man" (Wągwáxopiniga); and the women have the feminine, "Spirit Woman" (Wáxopiniwįga). And the four men from above that Earthmaker sent down there, when they came there was a drizzling fog, so there are these names, "Walking in the Mist" (Ximánįga), and "Comes in Mist" (Xigúga); and the women they would call, "Drizzling Rain Woman" (Nijuxočgewįga). (301) And, as it is said, when they first came there to Within Lake (Te Rok), they landed upon bushes and bent them down, there being this name, "She Who Bends the Bushes" (Xąwiánǫzogewįga). And when they landed on the limb of an oak tree that stood there, they bent down the limb, so there is a name, "She Who Bends the Branches Down" (Nąnazógewįga); and again they landed on trees, so there were the names, "He Who Alights on a Tree" (Ną́jijega), "She Who Alights on a Tree" (Nąčijewįga); and from the tree there was a name, "Oak Woman" (Čašgegúwįga). Thus, they would say. Inasmuch as it was an oak tree, consequently they stepped on the ground here, and from there being on the ground, there was this name, "He Who Alights on the Ground" (Maįčijéga); and they would call the women, "She Who Alights on the Ground" (Maįčijewįga). And again, since they came with Thunderbirds, there was this name, "Thunderbird" (Wakąčága); and again for women, "Thunderbird Woman" (Wakąčáwįga); and again, "White Thunderbird" (Wakąčáskaga); for women, "White Thunderbird Woman" (Wąčaskáwįga); and again "Black Thunderbird" (Wakąčásepka); for women, "Black Thunderbird Woman" (Wakąčásebwiñga); and again since Thunderbirds thunder, there is this name, "He Who Thunders" (K'ónihéga); and again as they thunder they make the noise čįwį, they would call them, "He Who Makes Čįwį" (Čįwįčik'erehiga,), and again some they would call by the name, "He Who Comes Making Čįwį" (Čįwiñgúga), since when the Thunderbirds come, they come making the sound čįwį. And again when the Thunderbirds walk rain accompanies them, so there is a name, "He Who Walks with Rain" (Nijumániga), and they would call the women, "She Who Walks with Rain" (Nijumaníwiñga), and since the Thunderbirds came walking, there is this name, "Walking Thunder" (Wak'anjámaniñga); and again since the Thunderbirds came walking, since they came walking with might, there is the name, "Mighty Walker" (Mąšjąmaníwiñga), and they call the women "Mighty Female Walker"; and again when the Thunderbirds walk, as they came shaking the earth, there is a name, "Earth Shaker" (Mañgíksunčga), and (302) the women are called, "Earth Shaker Woman" (Mañgiksunčwiñga). And when the Thunderbirds come, they would come shaking the earth, and so there is this name, "Earth Shaker" (Mąnañksunčka), and for the women, "Earth Shaker Woman" (Mąnañksunjewiñga); and again when the Thunderbirds come, they always come with wind and hail, so there is this name, "He Who Comes with Wind and Hail" (Mą'emaniñga). And again since one of the Thunderbirds came standing foremost, so there is this name, "He Who Walks First" (Čonimániñga); since one of the Thunderbirds was first, again there is this name, "Thunderbird Leader" (Wak'anjáčoniñga), and for the women, "Thunderbird Female Leader" (Wák'anjačonìwiñga). Since these Thunderbirds flash, pointing in every direction, there is this name, "Flashes in Every Direction" (Jąbwakšáñkšanga), and the woman's name. We do not see these Thunderbirds, but only their flashes are visible, so there is this name, a name for a woman, ""Only a Flash of Lightning Woman" (Jąberášanąčąt'įwiñga); and these Thunderbirds lightning in streaks, so there is a name, "Streak of Lightning" (Jąpjirehíga); and again these Thunderbirds walk in the clouds, and there the cloudiness is caused by their walking, so there is this name, "He Who Walks in the Clouds" (Mañxíwimàniñga); and again these Thunderbirds have long wings, so there is a name, "He Who has Long Wings." (Ahúserečka). And, again, since these Thunderbirds flash, there one of them will strike the trees, so there is this name, "Strikes the Trees" (Nojǫpka); and again as these Thunderbirds hit trees, from this hitting of trees there is a name, "He Who Hits Trees" (Nójiñga); and again, it is said, for the women they would call them, "She Who Hits Trees" (Nojíwiñga). And again, they would say that when these Thunderbirds come they do so with many thunder claps; the people, as many of them of those who are on earth, and as many animals as there are on earth, and as many plants as there are, they cause the rain to fall on all of them, and (303) this earth these Thunderbirds crash with thunder, so they say that for the thunder crashes there is a name that they say, "Crashing Thunder" (Warujáxega).1
Commentary. "Earthmaker sent four men here" — this is a reference to the origin story of the Thunderbird Clan in which Earthmaker created four men who were escorted to earth by Thunderbirds. See the Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Version 1 and Version 5.
"Within Lake" — this is Green Bay, since the bay is like a lake within a lake (Lake Michigan), and even resembles Lake Michigan's elongated shape north to south.
"Mą'emaniñga" — this name is usually translated as "Storms as He Walks."
"Crashing Thunder" — in this article, Radin rendered it as "Terrible Thunder Crash," but later revised it in other works to "Crashing Thunder." This is the name of the narrator, Sam Blowsnake. It was originally the name of his older brother Jasper Blowsnake, but after his death, Sam adopted it as his own.
Comparative Material. The Oto clan origins myths are similar. Here are some excerpts from the Big God Bear Clan Origin Myth. "We came by water. There were four brothers taking this journey, hunting for land. The oldest brother wanted to see if he could find land. He went out and failed to find land. He saw the water shining in the sunlight. gistiji'gremi: Water Shining in Sunlight. Then the second brother went out. niwák'shiksemi: Water Person. ... The oldest name was phagrátahe: Ahead. phagróhe-emi: Coming First. [The second name was] húhe-emi: Coming. After they had observed the land, it looked so nice. They looked north. maiyó'phi: Good Land. ..." This is from the Origin Myth of the Eagle Clan: "At one time we lived in heaven, way up in heaven, many, many years ago. After a while we grew tired of living up there. Four men, they say, said: 'Now let us try and get away from here and find another world.' ... They found a hole and they came down to this earth. The name is mohánaiyi-mi: Standing on the Earth. They started to walk on this earth. Walking, they looked around. "Oh what a pretty land," they said. maiyóphi-mi: Pretty Land. It rained and thundered. k'oiyiñge: Little Thunder; niyúmañgi: Rain Walking. It was a big rain, the grass and water seemed to flow together. naná∂oke: Walking Laid Flat. ..."2
The following is from the closely related Ioway Big God Clan Origin Myth. "We came from just below where the sun rises. From the beginning we had found Wolf, Bear, Buffalo and Eagle. We had found them. When He looked down, He could see the villages of the gens down there. 'You go down and mingle with the people there,' He said. So he (Big God) came down. He lit on a limb. And that is where they got the name najíje: Lighting on a Limb. When he came there and lit on a limb, all those other gens looked up to him. So that is a name istátañge: All Look Towards Him. And they all said: 'He is a god.' ... Thunder man is in charge of the rain. There are seven gods that travel in the air. (There are two names in there, iwábage: Bloody Mouth, waphio: Make Things Good.) Our Creator has sent me here that I might bring this fire to you. Now I am going to light on the ground. mohánaiyi: Stepping on the Ground. ..."3
Links: Earthmaker, Thunderbirds.
Stories: 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, 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; mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hočąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hočągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; about (the origins of) the Hočąk clans: Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, 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; set at Green Bay, "Within Lake" (Te Rok): Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2, 3), Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 4), The Seven Maidens, Ioway & Missouria Origins, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Great Walker's Warpath, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I (v. 2), The Fox-Hočąk War (v. 2), The Creation Council, First Contact, Gatschet's Hočank hit’e.
Themes: clan names arise from incidents attendant upon the founding of the clan by its Animal Spirit progenitors: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, vv. 2a, 4, 7, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, vv. 1, 4, Snake Clan Origins.
1 Paul Radin, Personal Reminiscences of a Winnebago Indian, Journal of American Folk-Lore, 26, #102 (1913): 293-318 (Sam Blowsnake narrative: 300-303). Informant: Sam Blowsnake, Thunderbird Clan.
2 William Whitman, Origin Legends of the Oto, The Journal of American Folklore, 51, #200 (Apr. - Jun., 1938): 173-205 [175-176, 187].
3 Whitman, Origin Legends of the Oto, 201.