by Richard L. Dieterle
Traveler is a famous Waterspirit, the son of the youngest of the four great Island Weights. His father, who was chief of the Waterspirits, ruled from Long Lake (Pigs Eye Lake?) downstream from St. Paul, Minnesota. He was originally called "Chief's Child," but later won the name "Traveler" from his many journeys around and under the earth.1 He saved the Waterspirit race from extinction by meeting a Thunderbird prince in single combat. In one version he shot him down with a rainbow, yet it was only by the aid of a human whom he had blessed, that was able to triumph over his opponent.2 After his victory he was able to gain charge over the whole earth. He went to live at Devils Lake (Te Wákącąk, "Holy Lake"), a lake with no bottom, said to be "a window for the earth."3 Others say that once the human shot the Thunderbird, Traveler was able to capture him. They made peace with the Thunderbirds by allowing the captive to marry the daughter of their chief and in exchange for the Thunders sparing the life of their chief, they made them a hinŭ́kwagu offering ("to dip for women"). The offspring of this marriage between opposites was a merman once seen from time to time at Devil's Lake.4
On one occasion he assumed human form in order to be strengthened by fasting. With the help of Turtle he obtained a human princess for his wife whom he took to his father's spirit village to live.5
Links: Waterspirits, Island Weights, Thunderbirds, Turtle, The Waterspirit of Green Lake.
Stories: featuring Traveler as a character: The Nannyberry Picker, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Lost Blanket; 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, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įcorúšika 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, The Thunderbird, 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, Waruǧábᵉra, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Heną́ga and Star Girl, Peace of Mind Regained, The Story of the Medicine Rite, 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 Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird, Waruǧábᵉra, 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, 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 Hocąk Chief, The Spirit of Gambling, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Black Otter's Warpath, Aracgéga's Blessings, Kunu's Warpath, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, The Glory of the Morning, The Nightspirits Bless Ciwoit’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; set at Devil's Lake (Te Wákącąk): Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Sacred Lake, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells.
Genealogy: Traveler Genealogy.
1 Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, Part I (Basil, Switzerland: Ethnographical Museum, 1954) 47-48.
2 Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1927) 179-185. "The Struggle between the Son of the Thunderbird and the Son of the Waterspirit," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Winnebago III, #11a, Freeman #3892 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1909?) Story 10: 126-139.
3 Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 47-48.
4 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 122.
5 Paul Radin, "Wuwukih[i]ge," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #45.