Trickster and the Eagle
by Waukon G. Smith (Thunderbird Clan)
retold by Richard L. Dieterle
Once Trickster was walking about on the earth. There he became lonely, so he called to him his companions. A rabbit, a coyote, and a squirrel joined him there, and together they walked about the world. And as they walked, the rabbit hopped along high off the ground, and Trickster said to him, "I wish that I too could jump about like you," he said. And the rabbit said, "If you just try, you too can do it." But Trickster did not believe him and went on as before. Then he saw the coyote sneaking along, and he said to him, "I wish that I too could sneak along like you." And the coyote said, "If you just try, you too can do it." But Trickster did not believe him, and went on as he had before. Then he saw that as they went, the squirrel ran up and down the trees, so he said, "I wish that I could climb up and down the trees like you," he said. And the squirrel said, "If you just try, you too can do it." But Trickster would not try it, and went along as before.
Then Trickster looked up in the sky, and there was an eagle soaring above him. Up on the cliffs above, he saw the eagle land at its nest, so he climbed up there and spoke to the eagle: "I wish that I could fly like you do," he said. And the eagle said, "If you flap your arms really fast, then streach them out, you will soar just as I do." Trickster believed him, and jumped off the nest, waving his arms swiftly up and down; yet as hard as he tried, he could not do anything. Soon he fell to the earth with a loud noise. The eagle landed beside him and told him, "If Earthmaker had meant for you to fly, he would have given you feathers, wings, a tail, and the power to walk upon the air."1
Commentary. Birds are poetically termed "those who walk upon the air."
Links: Trickster, Squirrels, Coyote.
Stories: featuring Trickster as a character: The Trickster Cycle, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster's Warpath, Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster Soils the Princess, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Elk's Skull, Trickster and the Mothers, The Markings on the Moon, The Spirit of Gambling, The Woman who Became an Ant, The Green Man, The Red Man, Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride, Trickster Loses His Meal, Trickster's Tail, A Mink Tricks Trickster, Trickster's Penis, Trickster Loses Most of His Penis, The Scenting Contest, The Bungling Host, Mink Soils the Princess, Trickster and the Children, Trickster and the Geese, Trickster and the Dancers, Trickster and the Honey, Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, The Pointing Man, Trickster's Buffalo Hunt, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Visits His Family, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Petition to Earthmaker, Waruǧápara, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge; mentioning rabbits: The Boy and the Jack Rabbit, see also under Hare; mentioning coyotes: Wojijé, The Raccoon Coat, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Redhorn's Sons, Redhorn Contests the Giants; mentioning squirrels: The Brown Squirrel, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men; mentioning eagles: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Pigeon Clan Origins, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, 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.
Themes: Trickster is the victim of a trick: Trickster Soils the Princess, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Baldness of the Buzzard, Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, The Elk's Skull, A Mink Tricks Trickster, Trickster and the Honey, The Markings on the Moon; someone falls from the sky while trying to fly with the birds: The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, Trickster and the Geese, The Baldness of the Buzzard.
1 Waukon G. Smith (Thunderbird Clan), Wak'djunk'aga the Eagle, in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 33-34.