The Thunderbird

by James St. Cyr
from a story told to him by a Frenchman

retold by Richard L. Dieterle


A man and his wife lived in an oval lodge with their son and two daughters. The man never arose from his bed: he even ate lying down. One day he said, "My son, it is time that you went out and looked for company for your two sisters." The son agreed that he would do this. As he expected to do some traveling, he assembled together everything he might need to take with him on an extended journey. When he was set to go, his father told him the path he must take, and advised him, "As you are traveling along this road you will meet some people going your way — travel with them." As the young man departed, his sisters wept. When he heard their weeping, he immediately returned. "Oh my brother," they said, "do not turn back on our account. We weep for no good reason, only because we will be lonely without you." He started out once more, but they could not restrain their tears, so he turned back again. They told him that they were crying only because they will miss him, and that he should go on. This happened again, and only on the fourth try did he manage to get away.

As he was walking along, he unexpectedly came to a road where he saw people walking ahead of him. He ran until he caught up to the last man and fell in line behind him. Yet they did not seem to be aware of his presence at all. Finally, as he turned around, the last man in line saw him, and just then it began to drizzle. "Say," he remarked to the others, "this human is more clever than we are — he has been following us." The leader declared, "It is good. Let him join us." They went along like this for some way, then stopped to smoke. They began to mash grass stems down into their pipe and were about to smoke this when the human broke out his own pipe and said, "When we smoke, we always use tobacco." At this, they put away their own pipe and accepted the pipe that the human offered them. The first man drew in the smoke so that not a wisp of it escaped, and so too all the others in turn. "My friend," said the last man, "never have I tasted anything like this. When the humans smoked, we always envied them. This is truly good." When the human heard this, he gave each of them some tobacco to keep as their own.

After they had finished smoking, they started on their journey again until they came to a very wide river. "We will not be able to take our friend," commented one of them, "as we never pass over this water in peace — the weakest ones are always drowned." However, the human spoke up and said, "Don't worry about me — I shall find a way." They made their preparations to cross, and when they were ready, one of them expressed concern, saying, "We will get our friend wet." The human replied, "Do as you usually do. Don't worry about me, I'll be all right." Then they all began to ascend into the air, and as they climbed high above, they thundered along the way. Then they flew across, and as they started, a torrential rain fell beneath them. As they reached the midpoint of the crossing, their thundering reached a crescendo. Meanwhile, the human took a weed bulb and hollowed it out on one side. Then he commanded the other side of the bulb: "Blow your wind!" Thereupon, he crawled into the open side and sealed the entrance up. After he had done this, the wind began to blow so fiercely that it drove him across the waters. When he felt himself jolted to the side, he opened his hatch and found that he had landed on the opposite shore. When he climbed out, there were his friends. They said among themselves, "Indeed, the human is more clever than we are."

Again they set out on their travels until they finally reached a rocky precipice so high that the top of it was out of sight. However, there was no way that anyone could climb these cliffs, since the stone was perfectly smooth. One of the men said to him, "We will not be able to take you farther, for even some of us cannot make it." But the human took it all in stride, and said, "I'll find a way." Thereupon he turned himself into that kind of small bird that climbs up trees and pecks on their trunks (a woodpecker?). He then ascended upward, but when he could go no farther in that form, he changed himself into a hummingbird [inset]. Eventually he tired, so he changed himself into a black hawk. This time he made it nearly to the top, but had to stop to rest on a point of rock. The others said among themselves, "Our friend must have done something by now — let's go look for him." There they found him out on the point, and two of them, one by each arm, carried him the short way to the top. "This is as far as we can take you," they informed him.

They all went on a short ways, then the Thunderbirds told him, "Here we must leave you. There is a grove of trees where a yųgiwi (princess) is fasting. She is trying to dream of you. There you will bless her — this is why we have brought you along." So he went there until he encountered an oval lodge, where he peeped in. Inside was a woman who wore belts of wool, and when she turned to look at him, something seemed to rattle at him. The second time she turned to look at him, he heard once again the sound of a rattle. This happened twice more, until finally she said, "Instead of doing that, why don't you come in? My look is naturally like that." So he went on in. "What do you usually eat?" she asked him. "Venison," he replied. "Oh," she said knowingly, "you mean grasshoppers. I'll go get you one." Momentarily she returned dragging one by the ears. She instructed him: "Now kill it according to your custom." The man drew back his bowstring and fired with such force that he shot the deer clean through. She prepared it by baking the ribs with corn, and she placed it on a plate that his friends had left just for him. This they did some time ago, for they foresaw his arrival among them. She had never eaten "grasshoppers" before, so she asked him for a taste. He gave her some, but she didn't like it at all. He instructed her, "If you wish to eat this and have it taste as it does to me, then you must cease eating the other things." He put his arm around her and put a piece into her mouth, when he did this their taste became the same, and she liked it a lot. Soon, she began eating the same things that he ate. She informed him, "My brothers will soon be coming along. The first will become regaja aše'ųna. They always stop by to see me." Not long afterwards, one came along thundering. He stood outside and spoke through the closed door, saying, "When you are done fasting, tell me what you would like to eat, and I'll go get it for you." "Older brother," she replied, "I have already eaten. A human has come by and blessed me, so now I eat what he eats." "It is good," the Thunderbird said, "let me come in and see my brother-in-law." "Come in," she said. He was overjoyed and kept saying, "Brother-in-law, it is good!" Then as he was leaving, he said, "I will go back and tell our parents." Soon they all came by the lodge. They were very thankful, for the young woman had fasted so that she might be blessed by him.

Every day the brother-in-law would go out hunting and bring back snakes, worms, and water snakes. One day his brother-in-law, Kunu, warned him, "You must never go over this way where there is a lake. A married couple of beavers live there, and once they almost caught even me." His sister said, "It is all right — he understands you." Just the same, the human set out for the lake at the first opportunity. When he got there, unexpectedly, there they were, sitting on the middle of a sand bank, two Red Waterspirits. He painted one arrow black, and another he painted red. Then he turned himself into a fine feather and floated upward, where he hovered directly above them. The female Waterspirit said, "Old man, I sense that someone is spying on us." Her mate replied confidently, "If so, I would have seen them too." She persisted: "It's Kunu's brother-in-law. He's floating above us in the guise of a fine feather, and is about to descend on us." "Would you quit all this jabbering," the male replied, "I'm trying to get some sleep. If he were there, I would have seen him. Now quiet down so I can rest." When they were asleep, he descended. He drew back his bow and shot the male where he could see his heart throbbing against his side. Then he let the female have it the same way. He quickly changed into a black hawk and sped off, as the other Waterspirits were in hot pursuit. He was almost caught, but in a nick of time, he changed into a hummingbird. In this form he was just barely able to escape.

When he returned he told his wife, "I've killed what my brother-in-law likes best of all." She could not believe her ears: "Not even my brothers could kill one of these," she said. He replied, "These are the only easy things there are to kill." She still could not bring herself to believe that he had performed such a great feat. "Well, then," he told her, "just take a look outside." So she opened the flap of the lodge, and unexpectedly, there they were. "You have done my brother a very great favor," she said, "and although the flesh is beyond compare, yet he wanted most of all to make the hides into a blanket. When my brother arrives, you must say, 'The male is to be used for its hide, the female is to be used for food,' and then say the reverse to my father." They dragged the two Waterspirits inside. Not long afterwards the brother came by and entered the lodge. When he saw what was inside, he declared, "Brother-in-law, you have gotten a beaver and its mate!" The human told him, "Brother-in-law, I offer you the female for food, and the male I give to you to make a blanket. To your father I give the male for food, and the female for its hide." He was very thankful, for he had always wanted one, and said, "Ho ho, brother-in-law, it is good! I have always longed for this. Ho ho, my little sister, it is good. Thus we longed for this. We have surely dreamt. You have dreamt for the whole village, my little sister!" He carried the male to his lodge on his back, and his father came to fetch the other one. When his father the chief saw it, he declared, "Ho ho! We could eat it ourselves, but I shall give a feast with mine!" Once everything was set up, the attendants came. Soon they had the fire going and began cooking the meat. All the spirits from earth and from heaven were invited, and soon the lodge was full. He began by telling the assembled spirits that it was his good fortune to have a human for a son-in-law, and that it was he who had done this feat. He described for them how it was accomplished and lavished praise upon his son-in-law. Then he said to the assembled multitude: "He gave it to me to eat, but I have given a feast instead. In recognition for all he has done, I wish to give him a war weapon. I have given this feast that he might ask for it."

The father was the Thunder Chief and the keeper of the warclubs. His lodge was full of warclubs which hung from a long pole that stretched the full length of the long lodge. When the feast was over, they said to him, "Take your choice: pick any one you want, and no one will speak against it." He walked slowly down the length of the lodge looking at each club carefully. As he reached the end of the lodge, he happened to see tucked behind a couple of other clubs an old club that looked in less than perfect condition, so he said, "There are plenty of good ones, but if I took one, I would not be able to take care of it. So I will take this one." When he took it, the spirits hung down their heads, for he had taken the foremost of all warclubs. So high was their esteem for it that they wept at the thought of its loss. They told him, "You happened to have taken the best one, but we gave our word. Nothing will you fail to get with it."

The human was there a long time. His wife bore him a son. One day they said, "They will be getting lonesome for you where you came from, so it would be a good time for you to go back." He packed the club and started back to the earth with his family. He had been in the celestial Thunderbird village. After camping just one night, he arrived back home. Everyone was happy at his return and were glad that he had come back a father. One day the young man's wife asked him, "Why does your father lay there on his back and never get up?" Her husband replied, "He has been that way all his life." They decided to asked the old man why he was this way, and he told them, "I used to be just like you. I went about the earth and never failed to get anything. It was the ones under the waters who did this to me — they tried to kill me, but failed. However, do not pity me, I am at least glad to be alive." His new daughter-in-law asked to see where he had been injured, so he showed her. There, from out of the earth, came a large root which entered one side of his body passing clean through it and out the other side and back into the ground. Thus he was strapped by the root to the earth. She declared, "I can release him." The old man told her, "Very well — if you think it is the thing to do, then go ahead." She went outside and came back with a stone which she set in the fire. Then she made a small sweat bath lodge. Then she took out a knife and began cutting the root. As she cut, the old man groaned. Finally she had cut him free, but the groaning had stopped. The old man had died from the operation. However, the woman was not dismayed, but simply moved the body into the sweat lodge and put the red hot stone in there with it. She poured oil over the stone and soon the lodge was filled with vapors. After awhile, groans were heard from inside and finally he spoke, saying, "Daughter-in-law, I know you saved my life, but now you are in danger of killing me." However, all she did in response to his pleadings what to add more oil to the red hot rock. He continued to plead, but to no avail. Finally, it became silent and everyone thought that this time he had died for sure. Nevertheless, not long afterwards, he began to blow on himself and said, "I am through." He came out and stepped into the new clothes that had been laid out for him. As old and homely as he had once been, he now was that much more handsome than other men. Indeed, his youth had been restored so that he looked just like his son. He was overjoyed: "It is good, daughter-in-law! It is good, my son. This is what I wanted when I told you to go after just this girl. That is why I said it. I have now become the same as you. It is good!" They were all happy.

She was the daughter of the chief of the Thunder village. This is why the young man got the warclub. The Thunders are always nearby guarding the club. These spirits made themselves intimate with the human being. For this reason, whenever Thunderbird clansmen would want rain they could get it, and whenever it rained too much, they could stop it. In time the old man made his home among the Thunderbirds as did his son.

Once the spirits lived on this earth. It was they who subjugated the evil man-eating spirits and drove them into extinction. Now the spirits who did this live in the world above. The spirits of the earth are the ones that were once man-eaters. All the insects that now bite had come to the earth to war on the spirits, but they were conquered and made small.

People do not believe these stories today, but they forget that things were very different in primordial times. If someone of the future heard stories about our own time they too would find them incredible. Nevertheless, these stories are the history of the beginnings of this continent.1


Commentary. "drowned" — what causes the weakest Thunderbirds crossing the ocean to drown is the attacks of their enemies, the Waterspirits. They thunder as they cross because the lightning bolt is the weapon that they use against the Waterspirits below.

"fasting" — a strange feature of this myth is the inversion of the relation of blessing. Normally a human fasts and receives blessings from the spirits, including the Thunderbirds. Here the sister of the Thunderbirds fasts to receive a blessing from a human. One of the things beside tobacco that the spirits crave is human food, so this is something with which the human can bless the spirit. However, the "dream" in which the spirit encounters the human is unlike that in which the human would encounter a spirit. A fasting "dream" is a vision brought on by the presence of a spirit to the faster; but for the Thunderbird's sister, the dream is a prophetic vision of the human's arrival. Humans, we are told, cannot, without the aid of the spirits, see even one day into the future, so our visions must perforce be of a different character from those of the spirits.


Comparative Material. An Iroquois story has essentially the same plot. "A hunter in the woods was once caught in a thunder shower, when he heard a voice calling upon him to follow. This he did until he found himself in the clouds, the height of many trees from the ground. Beings which seemed to be men surrounded him, with one among them who seemed to be their chief. He was told to look below and tell whether he could see a huge water serpent. Replying that he could not, the old man anointed his eyes, after which he could see the monster in the depths below him. They then ordered one of their number to try and kill this enemy to the human race. Upon his failing, the hunter was told to accomplish the feat. He accordingly drew his bow and killed the foe. He was then conducted back to the place where he had sought shelter from the storm, which had now ceased. This was mankind's first acquaintance with the Thunder God and his assistants, and by it he learned that they were friendly toward the human race, and protected it from dragons, serpents, and other enemies."2


Links: Thunderbirds, Waterspirits, Black Hawks, Hummingbirds, Bird Spirits, The Thunderbird Warclub, Hawks, Tobacco.


Stories: mentioning Thunderbirds: 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, 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 the Thunderbird Clan: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, Origin of the Hočąk Chief, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, The Creation Council, Waruǧápara, The Greedy Woman, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 5); mentioning Great Black Hawk: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Chief of the Heroka, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Waruǧápara, The Lost Blanket, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Redhorn's Sons, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga; mentioning black hawks: Hawk Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), The Dipper, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, Waruǧápara, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Morning Star and His Friend, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Race for the Chief's Daughter; mentioning hawks: The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, Waruǧápara, Holy One and His Brother, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Creation Council, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Race for the Chief's Daughter; mentioning hummingbirds: The Dipper, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 5), The Race for the Chief's Daughter; mentioning tobacco: Tobacco Origin Myth, Hare and the Grasshoppers, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth (v 2), How the Thunders Met the Nights, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Grandmother's Gifts, First Contact, Peace of Mind Regained, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, The Dipper, The Masaxe War, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store; in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Nannyberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Two Children, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧápara, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Peace of Mind Regained, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spiritual Descent of John Rave's Grandmother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake; mentioning Red Waterspirits: The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty; 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, 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), 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) — see also Thunderbirds; mentioning grasshoppers: The Green Man, Hare and the Grasshoppers, The Two Boys, The Dipper, How the Thunders Met the Nights; about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧápara, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, The Petition to Earthmaker, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man Whose Wife was Captured; mentioning the Thunderbird Warclub: Waruǧápara, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, cf. Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; mentioning sweat lodges or sweat baths: The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Lost Blanket, The Green Man, Bladder and His Brothers (v. 1), Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Snowshoe Strings, Waruǧápara, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, The Birth of the Twins (v. 2), Lifting Up the Bear Heads, The King Bird, Little Human Head, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, The Shaggy Man, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, The Dipper, The Two Boys, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 2); mentioning feasts: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (Chief Feast), The Creation Council (Eagle Feast), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (Eagle Feast), Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth (Waterspirit Feast), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (Mąką́wohą, Waną́čĕrehí), Bear Clan Origin Myth (Bear Feast), The Woman Who Fought the Bear (Bear Feast), Grandfather's Two Families (Bear Feast), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (Wolf Feast), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Feast), Buffalo Dance Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (Buffalo Feast), The Blessing of Šokeboka (Feast to the Buffalo Tail), Snake Clan Origins (Snake Feast), Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief (Snake Feast), Rattlesnake Ledge (Snake Feast), Turtle's Warparty (War Weapons Feast, Warpath Feast), Porcupine and His Brothers (War Weapons Feast), Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega) (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Big Thunder Teaches Čap’ósgaga the Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), White Thunder's Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Fox-Hočąk War (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Šųgepaga (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (Warbundle Feast, Warpath Feast), Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (Warpath Feast), Kunu's Warpath (Warpath Feast), Trickster's Warpath (Warpath Feast), The Masaxe War (Warpath Feast), Redhorn's Sons (Warpath Feast, Fast-Breaking Feast), The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits (Fast-Breaking Feast), The Chief of the Heroka (Sick Offering Feast), The Dipper (Sick Offering Feast, Warclub Feast), The Four Slumbers Origin Myth (Four Slumbers Feast), The Journey to Spiritland (Four Slumbers Feast), The First Snakes (Snake Feast), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (unspecified), Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts (unnamed); mentioning the Ocean Sea (Te Ją): Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 1), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster and the Children, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Wears White Feather on His Head, White Wolf, How the Thunders Met the Nights (Mąznį’ąbᵋra), Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Redhorn's Sons, Grandfather's Two Families, Sun and the Big Eater, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (sea), The Dipper (sea), Wojijé, The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 1), Redhorn's Father, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Berdache Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Morning Star and His Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed.

Another version of the story of the acquisition of the Thunderbird Warclub is found in Waruǧapara.


Themes: a human joins up with the Thunderbirds: How the Thunders Met the Nights, Waruǧapara, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Dipper; coming across a warparty traveling in column and falling in at the rear: The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Dipper; powerful spirit beings act somewhat dim witted: How the Thunders Met the Nights, Hare Kills Sharp Elbow, Partridge's Older Brother, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Dipper; Thunderbirds are reduced to using grass or weeds when they smoke their pipes: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Dipper; crossing a body of water by using a plant or animal as a ship and commanding the wind: How the Thunders Met the Nights, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads; people turn into birds: Waruǧápara (owl, Thunderbird), Worúxega (eagle), The Dipper (black hawk, hummingbird), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), The Hočąk Arrival Myth (ravens), The Annihilation of the Hočągara I (turkey), The Quail Hunter (partridge), The Markings on the Moon (auk, curlew), The Fox-Hočąk War (goose), The Fleetfooted Man (water fowl?), The Boy Who Became a Robin (robin); someone traveling long distances assumes successive animal forms as each becomes fatigued, until he finally reaches his destination: Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), Witches; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Snowshoe Strings, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧápara, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Rainbow and the Stone Arch (v. 2), Trickster Concludes His Mission; a spirit has a (fasting) dream of a human: White Wolf, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy; 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 Hočągara, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Boy who would be Immortal, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, Great Walker's Medicine, Šųgepaga, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, A Man's Revenge, Aračgéga'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, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Man who Defied Disease Giver, White Thunder'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 Čiwoit’éhiga, Song to Earthmaker, First Contact (v. 1), The Horse Spirit of Eagle Heights; marriage to a yųgiwi (princess): The Nannyberry Picker, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Big Stone, Partridge's Older Brother, Redhorn's Sons, The Seduction of Redhorn's Son, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Roaster, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, The Two Boys, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Shaggy Man, The Red Feather, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, The Birth of the Twins (v. 3), Trickster Visits His Family, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, Redhorn's Father, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Morning Star and His Friend, Thunderbird and White Horse, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Shakes the Earth, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga; a human marries a spirit: The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy (a Thunderbird, a Nightspirit, and two Waterspirits), How the Thunders Met the Nights (a Nightspirit), The Shaggy Man (a Bear Spirit), White Wolf (a Wolf Spirit), The Woman who Married a Snake (a Snake Spirit), The Star Husband (stars), Little Human Head (a Louse Spirit), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (Buffalo Spirit), The Phantom Woman (Waterspirit); a mortal is an affine of the Thunderbirds: The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Waruǧápara, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (v. 3); a human has an easy time hunting something that the spirits find hard to get: Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Waruǧápara, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds; powerful spirits refer to strong animals by names denoting smaller and weaker animals: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Two Boys, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Waruǧápara, The Lost Blanket, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Redhorn's Sons (cf. the inverse theme, Buffalo Spirits calling grass "bears" in, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle); a knowledgeable person tells someone not to go to a certain place because of the danger, but that person goes there anyway: The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Fox-Hočąk War, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Boys, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Bladder and His Brothers, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle; the war between Thunderbirds and Waterspirits: Traveler and the Thunderbird War, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Brave Man, The Lost Blanket, Ocean Duck, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Waruǧápara, Bluehorn's Nephews; two Waterspirits sleep while basking in the sun: Holy One and His Brother, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty; an evil spirit thinks that he has detected the presence of his enemy, but his partner dissuades him: The Raccoon Coat, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Holy One and His Brother; a hero floats down upon his enemies in the form of a feather: The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Partridge's Older Brother; a hero shoots two Waterspirits in the heart: Holy One and His Brother; a Waterspirit that has been killed for food is called a "beaver" by spirits: The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Waruǧápara, The Twins Disobey Their Father, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Bluehorn's Nephews; a man pleases his father-in-law with his hunting prowess: The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Little Human Head, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle; the Chief of the Thunders rewards a human with the Thunderbird Warclub for killing a Waterspirit: Waruǧápara, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds; spirits bless a man with an artifact: Waruǧápara (warbundle, warclub), The Warbundle of the Eight Generations (warbundle, flute), The Blessing of a Bear Clansman (warbundle), The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds (warclub), Origin of the Decorah Family (drum), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (magical paint), Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka (flute), Ancient Blessing (pot, ax, spoon), The Blessing of the Bow (bow and arrows); Waterspirits lay a man on his back and bind him down: Įčorúšika and His Brothers; a human becomes a Thunderbird: How the Thunders Met the Nights, Waruǧápara; a mortal is returned to earth from the spirit village that he is visiting: Waruǧápara, Two Roads to Spiritland, The Shaggy Man, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Snowshoe Strings, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, White Wolf, The Foolish Hunter, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Petition to Earthmaker.


Notes

1 Paul Radin, "The Thunderbird," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #16. Interlinear Hočąk and English on unnumbered pages. Told by James St. Cyr (Thunderbird Clan?), who obtained it from an unidentified Frenchman.

2 Erminnie A. Smith, "Hinųⁿ Destroying the Giant Animals," in Myths of the Iroquois, Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, vol. 2 (1880-1881): 49-116 [54].