The Thunderbird Warbundle
by Joseph LaMère
This is the waiką of the Thunderbird Warbundle (Waruǧáp), narrated in 1908.
(288) In the beginning, Earth-Maker (Mąuna) created the world and human beings; but these were so weak that they were powerless to repel the attacks of the evil spirits (wáxopinišíšik) and the man-eaters or giants (wą́gᵋručge). These were invariably victorious over the people until Earth-Maker sent Hare (Wašjįgéga) to deliver the latter from their enemies. After many hardships Hare succeeded in ridding the world of all the evil spirits that had molested it for so long a time, and, in conjunction with the Trickster (Wakjąkága), established the Medicine Lodge.
The story I shall tell you now is supposed to have taken place in the time intervening between the sending-out of the Trickster and Hare.
The giants had attacked a certain village, burnt all the lodges, and killed and eaten all the inhabitants with the exception of ten small boys and one little girl, whom they wished to save until they had grown older. The children thus left alone, after they had dried their tears, spent all their time in fasting and hunting. As they grew older, all they knew about themselves was that they were brothers and sister. They knew nothing about their parents, nor about the place they had come from. They had a long lodge with five fireplaces and three entrances — one in the east, one in the west, and one in the south.
The beds were so arranged around the fireplaces that the eldest brother [Kunu] slept directly opposite his sister.
(289) This sister was treated with all imaginable love and consideration by all her brothers. They would not allow her to do any work. They themselves got the fuel, built the fire, cooked the food, washed, dressed, and combed her hair. As soon as these tasks were over, they would go out hunting and fasting. One night when they were all in bed, it seemed to the eldest brother as though he heard some one talking to his sister. He kept awake all night, but was so shocked and thunderstruck that he could not utter a word. He listened again; and now there was no doubt but that some one was talking to his sister, although he could not see him. He watched carefully to see if he could detect the person or discover him when he left the lodge. At break of day, however, in spite of his struggle to keep awake, he fell sound asleep; and when he woke up, the person had gone, and his sister was sleeping peacefully. He thought this rather peculiar, but said nothing to any of his brothers or to his sister. He went hunting, as usual, in the morning, and on his return went to sleep. Again the same thing happened, and again just at daybreak he fell asleep. There seemed to him no doubt now that the person speaking to his sister had forced him to fall asleep just as he was leaving the lodge. The third and fourth nights the same thing was repeated; but at daybreak of the fifth day, to his own surprise, he remained wide awake. He sat up and looked around to see if his brothers were all in their proper places. They were sleeping soundly and peacefully. Very much perplexed, he got up, and, waking his brothers,he prepared everything as usual, and then went hunting.
It was generally their custom, when starting in the morning, to go together along a certain path for a time, and then separate. This morning, however, just before they were to separate, the eldest called out to his brothers, "Let us stop here a little and smoke before we separate. We ought to do this oftener, so that we can talk things over." So they sat down, smoked, and chatted; then suddenly he rose and said, "Brothers, I have had a reason for asking you to stop and chat to-day. I am afraid something terrible has happened. During the last four nights a man has been talking to our sister. I myself heard him. For the first three nights I thought one of you was doing something disgraceful; but I was so choked with shame, that I could not say anything to you about it. On the fifth morning, however, I heard him go out, and, sitting up, I looked at all of your sleeping-places, and took particular care to see if any of them were disordered or if any of you were disturbed in your sleep; but you were all sleeping quietly."
After he had finished speaking, the brothers discussed the incident, and finally came to the conclusion that the person who had appeared to their sister must have been some good spirit. They knew that such had happened before to other people; and in a way they felt glad that their sister had been selected, for they felt sure that it was no evil thing. (290) They said nothing to her, preferring not to embarrass her; nor did they question her about what the eldest brother had heard. Thus things ran along for a few months without the brothers gaining any information. Finally the sister came to them one day, and told them that she was pregnant. They did not show the least surprise, but merely thanked her for the welcome information, and assured her that they were glad to know that they would soon have a new companion. They told her to take good care of herself and to do no work of any kind.
Months ran along in this way until the time came for her delivery. As soon as she told her brothers that she was about to be delivered of a child, they built her a little camp near their own, for in those times it was not customary for Indians to be present at the confinement of their relatives. They supplied the lodge with a nice fireplace, and provided for her as best they could. When all was in readiness, she entered the new lodge where some of her younger brothers were still working. Not very long after her entrance a small iron cradle decorated in the most beautiful fashion was suddenly thrust in through the door. The brothers ran out immediately to thank the donor, but no one was to be seen. (As a matter of fact, it was the father of the child about to be born who had made the gift, but this the brothers did not know.) After a short time the brothers left the lodge, and the sister remained alone to be delivered of a boy. No sooner had the child been born than the ten brothers came in, congratulated her, and immediately proceeded to take care of their young nephew. So well did they do this, that soon nothing was left for her to do but to nurse him. The youngest brother detailed himself especially for the work of taking care of his little nephew, quitting hunting entirely, and staying home with him. Indeed, he seemed to love the little fellow more than all the others.
Thus things went along until the baby could eat, though not talk. One night the eldest brother was awakened, and, sitting up in his bed, again heard some one talking to his sister. No one could be seen, however; and as on the former occasion, so now, despite his efforts, he fell asleep at daybreak. The second night the same was repeated; but on the morning of the fifth day he remained awake, and he saw the person get up and walk out of the lodge, followed by his sister, who took her sewing-material with her.
When the brothers got up in the morning, they discussed the incident, but showed no surprise, because it did not seem strange to them that their sister should have followed her husband to his home, wherever that was. In the belief that such was the case, they went out hunting, as usual. However, when they returned in the evening, and found out that their sister had not returned, they became worried, and the eldest one said, "I think we had better try to find out where she has gone." In the morning he arose and went to seek her, the other brothers having (291) gone hunting, as usual. When they returned in the evening, the eldest had not returned, and they resolved to send out the next one to look for him. As the second did not return, they became very anxious, fearing that something might have happened. So they said to one another," Let two of us go in search of our sister." So the next morning the two next in age set out, not to return. Again two were sent out, and they did not return. Only four brothers were left now; and they finally decided to leave the youngest one home to take care of their little nephew, while they would start in search of the missing ones. They did not return. Now only the youngest brother was left; and, much as he desired to start in search of his brothers, the thought of his little nephew left alone unnerved him. "No," he said to himself, "it won't do for me to leave my nephew all alone. Surely something has happened to my brothers. Yes, I am going to see what has happened to them; and if I have to die — well, all right! I don't want to live alone."
Ever since his sister had left, the youngest brother had been feeding his nephew on deer-brains. He would boil them and make a gruel out of them (this is supposed to be the most excellent food for an infant who has no mother to nurse him). The infant was still strapped to his cradle-board. So, when finally the youngest brother prepared to go in search of his lost brothers, he placed the cradle-board against the wall of the lodge, and prepared some deer-tail, which he boiled until it became soft. Then he freed the baby's arms so that they could move freely, and suspended the deer-skin from the top of the lodge in such away that the infant could reach it whenever he wished. Then he started out.
He had proceeded only a little way when he heard his nephew crying, and, losing heart, he returned. "Don't cry, little nephew!" he said: "for if Earth-Maker will let me, I will return soon." Then he started again, and went a little farther; but he heard his nephew cry, and returned. The third time he started, he proceeded still farther, but again returned. The fourth time he started, he ran, for he did not want to be tempted to return by hearing the cries of his nephew.
He took the trail of his brothers, and followed it until he came to two camps — a small one and a large one. He entered the first one, and found a very old woman sitting there. As soon as she saw him, she addressed him thus: "My poor grandchild, sit down here! I am very sorry for you." And then she went on to tell him what had happened to his sister and brothers. She told him that the person who had been talking to his sister the last time was a bad spirit; but that the sister had mistaken him for the father of her child, and had accompanied him to this camp. However, he was not the father, as she afterwards found out. All his brothers had been killed by this bad spirit; and she did not believe that he, the youngest, would escape their fate. The old woman then proceeded to tell him that his sister was by this time so completely under the influence (292) of this bad spirit, that she was as bad as he, and preferred to help her husband rather than her brother.
"Now, listen, my grandchild! The first thing that the bad spirit will ask you to do to-night will be to prepare a sweat-bath for him; and in order to do that, he will tell you to fetch a certain stone. That stone belongs to him, and it is placed there for a certain purpose. Just as soon as you touch it, it will begin to roll down the hill, and you will roll with it. That is how some of your brothers met their death. Now, you just take a pole, walk up the opposite side of the hill, and touch it with the pole, and it will then roll down the hill. As soon as it has stopped rolling, you can pick it up and take it home. When you have brought this home, your brother-in-law will tell you to get the bark of a certain very large tree. That tree belongs to him, and he keeps it there for a certain purpose. Just as soon as you touch the bark of the tree, the bark will fall on you and kill you. Some of your brothers met their death in that way. Now you take a stick and go as near as you can to the tree, and throw the stick at it. It will hit the bark, which will fall off. Then just take as much of it as you want and bring it to him. When you have brought this, he will send you out again and tell you to fetch the lodge-pole for the sweat-house. When you get to the place where he has sent you, you will find four large rattlesnakes lying curled up. These are what he meant you to get. Some of your brothers met their death there. They were killed by the snakes. So now, my grandson, take some tobacco along with you and give it to them, and ask them not to hurt you. Those snakes do not belong to him; but he is more powerful than they, and he keeps them there as his slaves. He just gives them enough to eat and to drink. However, they have never had anything to smoke, and they will be glad to accept your gift and not molest you. I shall put in my influence to help you with them, and then you will be able to take them with you. When you come to your brother-in-law's place, put their heads in the ground and twist their tails, and so you will have the finest of lodge structures. After this has been done, he will tell you to pick up the stone with your naked hand and carry it into the sweat-house. Now, you know the stone belongs to him, and his purpose is to have it stick to your hand and burn you up. That is how some of your brothers met their fate. Now, my grandson, when it comes to that point, try to find some excuse to leave him, and come over to see me before you pick up the stone."
Shortly after the old woman had finished, the sister entered, and, seeing her brother, immediately addressed him. "Brother, I have brought you something to eat." Then she handed him a wooden bowl containing a large amount of liver as dry as a bone. He took the bowl, and, as soon as he had noticed the contents, threw the bowl and liver straight into the face of his sister. "I am not accustomed to eating this kind of food," he said. "My brothers, who brought me up, never gave (293) me any food like this." His sister then left the lodge, and, it being suppertime, the old woman cooked him a supper of vegetables. After he had finished his supper, his sister came in again. "Tenth-Son, your brother-in-law wants you to prepare his sweat-bath. He is accustomed to use a certain stone that you will find yonder on the hill, and which he wishes you to get." Then she left the lodge. Her brother went to the hill, and, following the advice of his grandmother, ascended it on the side opposite the stone, and touched it with his stick, when it rolled rapidly down the hill.
He then carried it to his brother-in-law's lodge, but left it outside. Then he went in to inform the latter that he had brought the stone. His brother-in-law merely nodded, and told him to fetch the bark for the lodge structure. This he set out to do; and when he came near the tree, he carefully took a position of safety, and touched the bark with his stick. It fell with a terrific crash, and he took as much as he needed and carried it to his brother-in-law. The latter merely nodded when it was brought, and sent him to get the lodge-poles. When he came to the place where the snakes were confined, he took some tobacco and threw it to them. They accepted it, and allowed him to seize them and carry them to his brother-in-law. Arrived there, he stuck their heads in the ground, and twisted their tails, thus forming the poles of the sweat-bath lodge. Then he put the bark over these poles, and the structure was complete. As soon as everything was in readiness, his brother-in-law told him to place the stone in the lodge. Instead of doing this, however, he got up some excuse and went to see the old woman. She prepared something for him, rubbed his hands and arms with it thoroughly, and told him to return to the sweat bath lodge immediately and do as his brother-in-law had asked. This he did, and, much to the disgust of the latter, the stone did not burn him in the least. Indeed, he got so provoked that he said to him ironically, "You think you are a clever fellow, don't you? I don't want to take a bath at all." And with this he went to sleep, and Tenth-Son returned to his grandmother, with whom he stayed over night.
That night the old woman gave him further advice. " Grandson, you have done nobly, and I am very proud of you; but the hardest still remains to be done. To-morrow your brother-in-law will ask you to go out hunting with him, and he will take you out a considerable distance until he shall have killed a large buck-deer, which he will ask you to pack with your bow-string so that the antlers of the deer are near your back. His intention is to have you run the antlers into your skull. If he does not succeed in that, he will step on the tail-end of your moccasin, to make you stumble and have the antlers break your back. Some of your brothers met their fate in that way." Then both fell asleep.
Early the next morning his sister came and said, "Tenth-Son, your brother-in-law wants you to go hunting with him." So he went along with (294) him; and after they had continued on their course for some time, the brother-in-law killed a big buck-deer and told the boy to pack it. The boy knew what was going to happen, but nevertheless he said, " I have not got any pack-string. How can I pack it?" — "Why, take your bowstring and do it. What is the matter with you, anyhow? Come, I will pack it for you," he was answered angrily. So he untied the boy's bowstring and packed the deer for him. He doubled the deer up so that his antlers were quite near the boy's back. But the boy had been careful enough to secrete a whetstone under the hair of his forehead, as his grandmother had instructed him, so that the bow-string would touch this stone instead of his forehead. When all was in readiness, they started home. The brother-in-law waited to see what would happen; but, as the bowstring did not seem to cut the head of the young man, he proceeded to step on the tail of his moccasins. To his surprise, the bow-string broke in two, causing the boy to stumble, but not injuring him, for the bow-string went one way, and the pack the other. "What did you do that for?" the boy asked. " Oh, just for fun," his brother-in-law answered. "I wanted to see what you would do." Then, much provoked, the bad spirit packed the deer with his own pack-strap, and walked home. The young boy returned to his grandmother.
The grandmother prepared the supper, and said to him, "Grandson, you have done wonderfully well. You have fared far better than any of your brothers; but to-morrow will be a very hard day, and I don't know how I am going to help you. Your brother-in-law will ask you to go out hunting again, and will send you to head off a deer. Then suddenly it will commence to snow severely; and before you are aware of it, you will be alone in the timber with no footprints to guide you. I shall not be able to help you then; but if you can think of anything that you obtained from the good spirits while fasting, or of any other way whereby you can protect yourself, do so to-night. That is all, my grandson."
In the morning, as usual, the sister came, and said, "Tenth-Son, your brother-in-law wants you to go out hunting with him." So he accompanied him, and they went along until late in the afternoon. Suddenly a bear jumped out of the brush, and, on seeing the hunters, ran away. The brother-in-law called the young boy, and said, "Now, you stay here while I take after him; and don't get frightened, because you can see my tracks right along."
As soon as he got out of sight, it began to snow and got very cold. The boy was not prepared for this, and had no extra garment. He kept in the track of his brother-in-law as long as it was visible, but the fast-falling snow soon obliterated the last trace. He was lost. He stood there without moving for some time, and then began to cry. He cried not so much for himself as for his little nephew, whom he pictured to himself left alone to starve. Suddenly he heard a voice near him. He wiped his tears away, (295) and there in front of him stood a tall man. "Tenth-Son, don't you know me ?" — "No," answered the boy, "I never saw you before." — "Why, uncle, "the person said, "I am the one whom you left in the cradle-board when you ran away from me. Your brother-in-law is right over the hill yonder, skinning the bear. You go right over there now, and you will see that he has a nice fire built for himself. He is cooking some meat. When you get there, just take the meat that he has cooked out of the fire, and eat it yourself. He'll tell you to put it away; but don't pay any attention to him, and go right on eating. Afterwards he'll tell you to take the bear and pack it; and then you just tell him you won't do it; let him do it himself. He will then threaten to kill you, but you just keep on refusing. Then he will get very angry and get ready to strike you. Just when he raises his club, call out, 'Wakąja-čo-ga ("Blue Thunderbird"), Nephew, I'm about to be killed,' and I shall be there to help you."
So the young man did as he had been told, and found his brother-in-law busy skinning and cooking the bear. He went straight to the fire and took the cooked meat out. "What are you doing there?" said the brother-in-law. "Put that back, and don't touch it again." The young man paid no attention to him. The brother-in-law said nothing for a while. Then he said, "Tenth-Son, pack the bear for me." — "I will not," answered the latter; "do it yourself." — "If you don't do it," retorted the former, "I shall kill you." But the young fellow persisted in his refusal, and this so enraged his brother-in-law that he lifted his club to strike him. Just as he was about to strike him, the boy cried out, "Wakąjačora! Nephew, I'm about to be killed." Immediately there stood in front of him his nephew. The nephew then addressed the evil spirit. "What are you trying to do to the boy?" he asked. "Oh, nothing," the brother-in-law answered; "I was just fooling with him." — "Well, I'll fool with you too," the nephew said. And with that, he lifted his club and struck him on the head. It was like a thunder-crash, and the evil spirit was smashed to pieces. There was nothing left of him. Then the nephew addressed his uncle. "I'll take the bear home for your grandmother. "He thereupon packed the bear. "Uncle," he continued, "my mother has wronged you much, and although she was influenced, and compelled to do much of what she did, by the evil spirit, nevertheless you have a right to do with her what you will. I leave that to you entirely. If you think that you have suffered so much pain and hardship that you ought to have your revenge, you may kill her." — "Well," answered the uncle,"I have indeed grieved very much, not so much for my brothers and myself as for you; and, although I know she was influenced by the evil spirits, she must not live."
So they went home to the old woman, and then the uncle went to his sister's camp, killed her, and set the camp afire. They cut up the bear into chunks, and gave it to the old woman. Then the uncle said, "Grandmother, (296) I am going to leave you;" and the grandmother said, "All right, grandson, I am going to leave you also. This is not my home. I just came up here to help you. My home is way down underneath the earth. The meat you gave me will last me almost as long as the world lasts, and all that I ask of you is to remember me occasionally by sacrificing some tobacco. I am the head spirit of the mice."
After she had departed, the nephew said, "Well, uncle, now I'll have to leave you too. I am going to my father. I only came here because my father asked me to." But the uncle said, "Nephew, if you go away, I'll go along with you. You are not going to leave me here alone, are you?" But the nephew replied, "Uncle, Earth-Maker does not permit us to take human beings to our homes, and I am sure my father would not like it. If you don't come along, I'll give you all kinds of supernatural powers. We can give greater supernatural powers for the warpath than any other spirits Earth-Maker has created. I'll also endow you with long life, and allow you to give to your children as long a life as you wish. I will also see that you have abundant game. You will only have to sit at your door to get all the game you desire. And as much wealth as you desire I will bestow on you. As Earth-Maker does not permit us to take human beings like yourself to our homes, you can only see us when we come on earth or when we appear to you in visions, when you are fasting." But the uncle continued, "No, nephew, I am going along with you. I can't live without you." As the nephew saw it was of no avail, he said, "Step in my trail four times as you are about to start." And the uncle stepped in his trail four times as he was about to start, and up they went.
They came to the western horizon. When they came pretty near the home of the nephew, the uncle saw that the country was very similar to our own. They continued until they came to an oak timber; there they stopped. The nephew thereupon took his uncle between his palms and rubbed him; and he became smaller and smaller, until he was about the size of a thunder-bird egg. Then he placed him in a nest in the fork of one of the oak-trees, and said to him, "Uncle, stay here and be contented. Don't be uneasy. I shall come back to you in four days to see how you are getting along." He then went home to his father.
His father asked him, "Well, son, what have you been doing?" He knew very well what his son had been doing, but he merely asked the question to see what answer he would get. The son answered, "Father, I have brought my uncle along with me." — "Well, where is he?" — "Over yonder in the tree. I'm going back to see him in four days." — "Well, son, it is not our custom to do what you have done — but as you have got him over here, I guess we will let it go."
After four days the nephew went to see his uncle, and he found him with his bill just sticking out of the egg, like a little chicken. "Uncle, you are doing fine; just be contented, and I will be back to see you in four (297) days." When he came again, he found his uncle just hatched. "Uncle, you are doing fine; just be contented, and I will be back in four days." When he came again, he found his uncle standing on the edge of the nest. "Uncle, you are doing fine; just be contented, and when I return in four days, you can go to my father's house with me." When he came again, the uncle was standing on the top of the tree, just over the nest, — a full-grown beautiful thunder-bird. "Ah, uncle, you look fine! Your feathers are far more beautiful, and you look far stronger than any of the rest of us." Thereupon the uncle jumped from the tree, and found his bow and arrows lying on the ground ready for him. He picked them up, and, together with his nephew, went to the home of Big-Hawk, the chief of the Thunder-Birds.
Here he stayed for a few days. One day he said to his nephew, "Let us go out, take a look at the country, and shoot some pigeons." So he and his nephew went around shooting pigeons with bow and arrow, and would stop to build a fire and cook their pigeons in the open.
(The main food of the thunder-birds at that time were snakes and all kinds of subterranean and aquatic animals.)
One day toward evening, the uncle, who was doing all the shooting, as his nephew only used a club, aimed at a pigeon; but the arrow missed aim, and struck a spring, where there was some white chalk. He went to get his arrow, and painted himself with the chalk that had adhered to the point of the arrow. When he joined his nephew later, the latter saw the chalk on his face, and said excitedly, "Where did you get that, uncle ?" — "What do you mean ?" asked the uncle. — "Why, what you have on your face. Those are the feces of the beaver, and big ones, too. You just give that to my father, and tell him that he may use half of it for himself, and give the other half to his people." The uncle said, "You are speaking foolishly, nephew; I have not seen any beaver." The nephew, however, replied, "Uncle, that is a beaver, and that is all there is to it." — "Well," answered the uncle, "you can tell your father whatever you want to, but I'm not going to give him something I have not seen." With that they started home, the nephew hurrying in order to inform his father of the great game they had discovered.
When they got home, the nephew told his father that his uncle had found a very large beaver, and had given half of it to him and half to his people, to be used at a feast. The old man was delighted at this, and in the morning he took as many people as wanted to come along, roused the beaver out of his hole, killed him, and gave a great feast. From that time on the uncle and his nephew went out to hunt beaver regularly, and each time they found more. They also discovered other animals — leeches, and different species of worms.
After the uncle had lived among the thunder-beings for a number of years, hunting with his bow and arrow, the chief thunder-beings decided (298) to hold a secret meeting and discuss the advisability of keeping him among them. Big-Black-Hawk was also there. At that meeting it was decided that it would be impossible to keep the uncle with them forever. While he was unquestionably benefiting them very much, nevertheless it did not seem proper that an earth-born individual should live with thunder-beings. They did not decide upon any definite date, but they determined that he should not stay among them very much longer. When some of the younger Thunder-Birds heard of this decision, they resolved to get rid of him as soon as possible.
Now, there was a very large water-spirit who inhabited a lake near by, whose banks were so steep and precipitous that the thunder-beings could never harm him with their thunder and lightning. They would often go around to look at him, but they could never injure him.
The scheme of the young Thunder-Birds was to entice the uncle to the lake, and, while pretending to have him look at the water-spirit, push him in. So they told the nephew to come along with them, bringing his uncle. "Tell him," they said, "to take his bow and arrow along, for we are going to look at the water-spirit, and perhaps your uncle, who does such wonderful things, can devise some means of capturing the spirit."
So they all went to the lake, and while the uncle was looking at the water-spirit, they pushed him in. The bank was extremely steep, and he was immediately killed. Then they went home, leaving the nephew to weep for his lost uncle.
The nephew commenced mourning for him and walked around the lake for four years. One day while thus walking, he noticed a wing-feather drifting toward the bank. He took it home with him, rubbed it between his palms, and transformed it into a thunder-bird egg. Then he put it in the fork of an oak-tree, and he said, "Uncle, I shall be back in four days." When he returned after four days, the bill was just sticking out of the egg. "That's all right, uncle, I shall be back in four days." When he came back, the egg was fully hatched. "It's all right, uncle, I shall be back in four days." At the end of the four days, the uncle was standing at the edge of the nest. "It's all right, uncle, I shall be back in four days." In the mean time the nephew had spoken to his father, Big-Black-Hawk, and he had said, "My son, we can't have that uncle of yours around here; you will have to take him back to the place where he came from. You may tell him that he may have anything he wants."
Then the nephew went to his uncle and found him perched on the top of the tree just over the nest, but he did not look as beautiful nor as strong as he did the first time. He looked like an ordinary thunder-bird. He came down to greet his nephew, and they talked for a long time. The nephew told his uncle how he had mourned his death, but, in spite of all, his father would not allow him to stay with them. "Earth-Maker would not like it," my father says, "for he would not want human beings to live (299) together with the thunder-beings. Uncle, I have grieved long over what the thunder-beings did to you, and I am now going to take my revenge by telling you something. My father says that he will give you any one of the war-clubs that we possess. When you enter the lodge, you will see a large number of them hanging along the walls of the lodge. Some look much better than others; but there will be one right next to the door, that looks the shabbiest of them all. Take that one, and then you will make them weep just as they made me weep." Then they went home, and Big-Black-Hawk told the uncle that he must return to earth, but that he would give him any of the clubs that he saw suspended in the lodge.
The uncle got up, walked around the lodge, examining the clubs one after another. When he got near the door, he turned around and said, "I thank you all for giving me this club, the worst of them all, for I don't want to take the best one that you have. I shall be perfectly satisfied with this shabby one." He took it, and, just as his nephew had said, all the thunder-beings hung their heads and wept.
In the centre of the lodge there was a little bowl filled with some liquid. Big-Black-Hawk got up and presented it to the uncle, and told him to drink. As he drank he seemed to hear the voices of millions of people begging for their lives. What he drank was really the brains of all the people that he was going to kill on the warpath. "What happened while you were drinking," Big-Black-Hawk said to him, "is a vision of what that club that you took is going to do for you."
Then the nephew took his uncle, and, rubbing him between his palms, transformed him into human shape again, and accompanied him back to earth. He said to him, "Uncle, you may see me whenever you want to," and he bade him good-by and left him.
The uncle joined a tribe of Indians, and immediately began to go on the warpath; and by virtue of his wonderful club he was able to kill as many persons as he wanted to.
After he had gone on doing this for several years, the thunder-beings held another council, and Big-Black-Hawk said, "This will never do. If that man keeps on, he will soon destroy all the people on the earth. That club must be taken away from him." So he sent his son down to tell his uncle that his club would have to be changed. The nephew came to the earth, and told his uncle that he would have to take his club away from him, but that he would substitute one in its place that would do him excellent service. The uncle was very much displeased to hear this. Then the nephew called a meeting of all the different spirits of the earth. He had his uncle make a club exactly like the one that was to be taken away. He also told him to make a whistle. If ever he was on the warpath, and would blow that whistle, it would be the same as the voice of a thunder-bird, and they would send him their powers. The club, too, (300) would possess great powers, although it would not possess the magical power of the first club.
Then the spirits who were assembled in council said, "We will endow him with our special powers." The snake gave him the power of concealing himself. The carnivorous birds gave the power of telling where the enemy was, and of seeing them in the night-time. "In return for this, we shall eat the flesh of the people you kill," they said. The spirits underneath the earth said, "We shall give you a medicine. If you paint yourself with it, you will have more strength than your enemies. You will be able to outrun them; and if they follow you and get your scent, this will overpower them, and they will not be able to go any farther." Then the nephew returned to his home [with the Warbundle]. The war-club and the powers bestowed on the uncle were handed down from one generation to another, always remaining in a certain clan.
Thus things went on until the Indians came in contact with the whites. They saw the steel points of the whites, and thought the club would look better if it contained these points. This they decided to do after a great meeting and feast had been held.1
Commentary. 1908 — Radin's introduction says, "[This story was] told to me by Mr. Joseph Lamere, of the Winnebago tribe, in the summer of 1908. [It was] supposed to explain the origin and significance of a sacred bundle, formerly the property of one of the clans, now in the possession of Mr. Lamere. The bundle consisted of the remains of a bird, the dried skin of a long rattlesnake, a number of cane flutes, and two old Winnebago warclubs. The bird is known among the Winnebagoes as a large crow, but it is presumably identical with the northern raven of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I could not obtain at the time the name of the clan to which the bundle had belonged; but, to judge from the narrative, I presume it belongs to the Wakąja or Thunder-Bird Clan."2
"their sister had been selected" — this odd way of going about things actually reflects the ancient courtship practice of the tribe, as reported in 1823:
The courtship among the Winneebaagoas is commenced by the young man, who goes to the lodge of the female whom he has in view, in the night, and after the family are asleep. He lights a small torch, enters the lodge and awakes her. If she bids him to go away he cannot reasonable expect success, but if she says nothing he remains a short time and then leaves her. On the following night he repeats his visit and as the girl is then aware of his intention, if he does not receive the signal for departure he make known his love and solicits her to become his wife. She rises and accompanies him to the lodge of his parents or friends, and in the morning she is presented to them by her lover. If the marriage is agreeable to them they make a collection of goods, skins, &c, and present them to the parents of the young woman, who returns a similar present, and the marriage contract is then considered as concluded.3
"beaver" — the "beaver" spoken of in the story is actually a Waterspirit. The "leeches" are elsewhere said to be turtles, and "worms" are probably snakes, as Thunders are known to eat this taboo animal (see How the Thunders Met the Nights).
"this will never do" — when spirits become human, they are required to be born again. So it is when a human becomes a spirit being like a Thunderbird: he too must begin at the beginning and pass through the stages of maturation, however greatly they may be accelerated. However, such a human remains always out of place, as indeed does a spirit reborn as a mortal. At some point they must die or transform themselves and return to where they belong. All this is a corollary to the widespread — perhaps universal — idea of ritual pollution. Mary Douglas analyses pollution and impurity as a kind of being-out-of-place.4 The process of moving an agent out of his normal place has the effect of augmenting his power. In some places in the world, chiefs are required to commit incest and other acts that would make normal people nothing but impure. The result of this is a great increase in their power.5 The same should be true of spirits that become human and of humans that become spirits. In the case of the uncle, when he became a Thunderbird he was no ordinary exemplar, but a Thunderbird exceeding all others in perfection and possessed powers of hunting that even powerful Thunders lacked. Nevertheless, in the opinion of all but his nephew, he was clearly out of place. The idea is perhaps when we subtract the power of the human restored to earth from the power of the Thunderbird that he was in the heavens, the remaining power was what was found in the Thunderbird Warclub. Some of that power has been transferred to the Thunderbird Warbundle, but in the end there is no way to retain such powers without upsetting the proper order and balance of the world. It is a kind of pollution which demands purification.
"Warbundle" — the warbundle contains the remains of the body of a northern raven, which the Hočągara identify with the crow (kaǧi). In addition there is a rattlesnake hide, which embodies the powers granted by the serpent. There are several cane flutes that are used to summon the powers of the Thunderbirds. There are two copies of the famous warclub in the bundle. No mention is made of the paints here,2 but other Warbundles are said to have them, and this one probably did at some point in its history.
Comparative Material. This Dakota story gives an account of the chief of the Thunders (Wakinyan), and is remarkably similar to the present Hotcâk myth. Three brothers lived together in a teepee. The youngest was a boy named Tahince-Iheya. One day a woman named "Gull" (Huntka) showed up at their teepee, and they adopted her as their sister. After they had lived together for some time, the three older brothers went hunting as usual, and while they were gone it thundered terribly and a cloud of black smoke appeared over the trees in the distance. After that, they never returned. The boy was too young to hunt, so his sister went out for ripe plums. Every time she went out, she was gone for a longer time. Finally, Tahince-Iheya followed her, and saw her enter a black cloud that hovered over a hill. There lightning flashes were seen, and the boy knew that she was with one of the Thunders. In time, a boy was born to his sister. He was called "Rattling Wings" (Hupuhu-sda). By that time, Tahince-Iheya was able to hunt rabbits and supply the family with food. After a few winters had passed the little boy was able to walk. One day his mother went out for wood and never returned. The child cried for his mother, but nothing was to be done. The next night, there was a great thunderstorm in the midst of which a man suddenly entered the teepee. He announced, "I am the child's father. Gull has gone to a village southwest of here to marry the chief's son. I will take my son with me now." And so Tahince-Iheya gave the Thunder his nephew, and the next day set off in search for his sister. Just before sunset he arrived at the village. He was greeted by boys who acted as if they knew him. Then Gull appeared. "How, sister," he said, but she replied, "Who are you who calls me 'Sister'?," whereupon she struck him with her staff, but the boys drove her off with their hoop sticks. Tahince-Iheya was invited to live with an old woman who cured his wounds. The next day Gull showed up and commanded that he be her husband's servant on the hunt. While on the hunt, the chief's son made Tahince-Iheya carry the kill by tying an arrow string to it and hanging it around his shoulders. The string dug into his flesh. That night Wakinyan, Chief of the Thunders, appeared to him in a dream and instructed him on what he was to do on tomorrow's hunt. During the next day's hunt, Tahince-Iheya asked to cook and eat the elk's heart. While he was thus engaged, a black cloud appeared and lightning flashed everywhere. The boy raced for a birch tree nearby as he has been instructed. The Thunder's killed the chief's son, and the entire village except for the old woman in whose teepee he lived. Wakinyan invited the boy to go lived in the Thunder's village, and he accepted. Before he left a great assemblage of animals appeared and each asked Tahince-Iheya to send their prayer to the Thunders. In exchange, each gave him a necklace of colored beads. Then he went up through a hole in the sky to the village of the Thunders. There he saw his nephew Rattling Wings, who had now grown up. One day Tahince-Iheya was out hunting pigeons. He overshot an arrow which landed in a spring. The water was yellow, and when he extracted his arrow, it had yellow mud on it. When he returned to the Thunder village, everyone was excited on seeing the yellow mud on him and his arrow. They told him, "You have found the dwelling of our enemies, the Unkteḣi. Tomorrow, we shall hunt them." The next day, they followed Tahince-Iheya to the yellow spring. There they shot lightning recklessly about, but hit no Unkteḣi. Finally, Rattling Wings flew high above and made a shot that killed one. They dragged it out, and brought it back to the village. There they ate his flesh raw, as they always ate meat without cooking it. Rattling Wings became concerned for his uncle's safety, and asked the chief if he might not transform him into a Thunder. The chief told him that he could if he were able to do so. So the two of them set off for the Thunders' nesting ground. There they saw eggs of many colors, and the nephew asked, "Which of these eggs should I put you in?" "Put me in the large white one," replied his uncle. By his mysterious powers, he caused Tahince-Iheya to enter into that egg. Every four days he checked on him, until finally, he had hatched. He was great and terrible, as lightnings and winds issued violently about him. He was so great that they made him chief of the Thunders and Whirlwinds.6
In a Navaho story, Sun shows the Twins every kind of wealth and asked them if they had not come to him to get any of these items. In every case they rejected the resplendent things and told him they had not come for these. Instead, they pointed to what looked like an ordinary bow and arrows and told him that they had come for this weapon. This was really the lightning weapon. They intended to use it to slay one of their own relatives, Yeitso the One-Walking Giant. However, Sun declared that the weapon was too terrible to give over permanently to the people of earth, so the Twins could use it only for a short time. After passing a guessing contest, the Twins were lowered to earth with the new weapon.7
Links: Thunderbirds, Great Black Hawk, Black Hawks, Waterspirits, The Thunderbird Warclub, Trickster, Earthmaker, Hare, Bird Spirits, Mice, The Wazija, Hawks, Snakes.
Stories: mentioning Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird, 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 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, The Greedy Woman, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 5), The Thunderbird; 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 Plums, 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 Eagle, 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, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge; mentioning Great Black Hawk: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Chief of the Heroka, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, 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, The Thunderbird, Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, 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 Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Race for the Chief's Daughter; mentioning hawks: Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Holy One and His Brother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Thunderbird, Partridge's Older Brother, Creation Council, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Magical Powers of Lincoln's Grandfather; mentioning pigeons: Pigeon Clan Origins, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), 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 Earthmaker blessing or rescuing a person: The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Seven Maidens, The Stone Heart, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins; 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, Sunset Point, 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, The Thunderbird, 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 snakes: The First Snakes, The Woman who Married a Snake, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Snake Clan Origins, The Omahas who turned into Snakes, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Serpents of Trempealeau, Rattlesnake Ledge, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Two Boys, Wears White Feather on His Head, Creation of the World (vv. 2, 3, 4), The Magical Powers of Lincoln's Grandfather, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Hea The Green Man, Holy One and His Brother, The Man who was Blessed by the Sun, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, Turtle and the Merchant, The Lost Blanket, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth; mentioning mice: The War among the Animals, Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride, Fable of the Mouse, Hare Kills Wildcat, Ocean Duck, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket; in which owls are mentioned: Owl Goes Hunting, Crane and His Brothers, The Spirit of Gambling, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Glory of the Morning, The Chief of the Heroka, Partridge's Older Brother, Wears White Feather on His Head, Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, The Green Man; mentioning the Thunderbird Warclub: The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, cf. Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; mentioning Warbundles: The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons (Thunderbird), Redhorn's Sons (Thunderbird), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty (Thunderbird), The Warbundle of the Eight Generations (Thunderbird), Wanihéga Becomes a Sak’į (Thunderbird), Šųgepaga (Eagle), The Warbundle Maker (Eagle), The Masaxe War (Eagle?), The Blessing of a Bear Clansman (Bear), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (Hit’énųk’e Paint), The Blessing of Kerexųsaka (Sauk), Yellow Thunder and the Lore of Lost Canyon, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store (Potawatomi), A Man's Revenge (enemy); 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, 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, 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, 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, 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; 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, The Thunderbird, 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, 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), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (black hawk, kaǧi), 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 livers: White Wolf (deer), The Green Man (raccoon); mentioning trees or Tree Spirits: The Creation of the World, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Visit of the Wood Spirit, The Boy who would be Immortal, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Woman who Became a Walnut Tree, The Old Woman and the Maple Tree Spirit, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, The Pointing Man, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Baldness of the Buzzard, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Loses His Meal, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 2), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Blessing of the Bow, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Spirit of Gambling, Peace of Mind Regained, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death; mentioning oak: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Oak Tree and the Man Who was Blessed by the Heroka, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Children of the Sun, Turtle's Warparty, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Creation Council, The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), Sun and the Big Eater, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Roaster, Little Human Head, The Shaggy Man, Wears White Feather on His Head, Peace of Mind Regained, The Dipper (leaves); 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, The Thunderbird, Snowshoe Strings, 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 the Wazija: The Hočąk Migration Myth, Trickster and the Geese, The First Fox and Sauk War, The Hočągara Migrate South, The Cosmic Ages of the Hočągara, Deer Spirits, The Creation of Man; mentioning snow: Holy One and His Brother, Wolves and Humans, Grandfather's Two Families, The Four Steps of the Cougar, Redhorn's Father, The Old Man and the Giants, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Great Walker's Warpath, White Wolf, North Shakes His Gourd, The Fleetfooted Man, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name, Witches, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Trickster Gets Pregnant, The Raccoon Coat, Silver Mound Cave, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married; mentioning springs: Trail Spring, Vita Spring, Merrill Springs, Big Spring and White Clay Spring, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Bear Clan Origin Myth, vv. 6, 8, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, Bluehorn's Nephews, Blue Mounds, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Lost Child, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Wild Rose, The Omahas who turned into Snakes, The Two Brothers, Snowshoe Strings, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Nannyberry Picker, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, The Two Boys, Wazųka, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, Turtle and the Witches.
Another version of the story of the acquisition of the Thunderbird Warclub is found in The Thunderbird.
Themes: the Giants massacre an entire village, but spare at least one child to eat later in life: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Old Man and the Giants; a girl grows up with numerous (nine or ten) brothers as her only siblings: The Chief of the Heroka, Little Human Head, The Shaggy Man, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2); a lover sneaks into a lodge every night, but conceals his/her identity: Partridge's Older Brother; a group (of brothers), a few at a time, go out looking for one of their number who is missing, but each searcher disappears in turn: Wojijé, Bladder and His Brothers, Big Eagle Cave Mystery; a cradle for a newborn is thrust through the lodge flap (by the mother's mysterious spirit husband): The Shaggy Man, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head; gifts are thrust through the flap of the lodge by someone that is not seen: The Shaggy Man, The Red Feather; a group of brothers goes down a common hunting trail and split up when they reach the end: The Quail Hunter; a man devoted to an infant tries repeatedly to leave the infant behind alone while going out, but must return to comfort him: The Birth of the Twins; children are given deer tails to eat: The Redman, The Chief of the Heroka, The Birth of the Twins, The Two Boys; solitary children feed themselves on an inexhaustible boiled deer tail: The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man; in the course of his travels, a man enters a lodge where he finds a grandmother who helps him: The Seduction of Redhorn's Son, Ocean Duck, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster Soils the Princess, Wojijé; 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, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, 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; someone kills his own kinsman: The Chief of the Heroka (wife), The Red Man (wife), Worúxega (wife), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (wife), Bluehorn's Nephews (mother), The Green Man (mother), Partridge's Older Brother (sister), The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother (sister), The Were-Grizzly (sister), Crane and His Brothers (brothers), White Wolf (brother), The Diving Contest (brother), The Twins Get into Hot Water (grandfather), The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter (daughter), The Birth of the Twins (daughter-in-law), The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle (daughter-in-law), Snowshoe Strings (father-in-law); someone kills a close female relative for her betrayal of him or his uncle: Bluehorn's Nephews (mother); The Red Man (wife), The Chief of the Heroka (wife), The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion (wife), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (wife); a mortal is an affine of the Thunderbirds: The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Thunderbird, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (v. 3); a young man follows the detailed instructions of a wise woman and as a result succeeds in a difficult mission: Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Trickster Soils the Princess; an evil spirit uses snow as a weapon: Holy One and His Brother; an evil spirit, who is an in-law of a young man, tries to kill him in the wilderness by causing him to die of exposure to the cold: The Old Man and the Giants; snakes are used as poles in the construction of a lodge: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth; people turn into birds: Worúxega (eagle), The Thunderbird (black hawk, hummingbird), The Dipper (black hawk, hummingbird), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), 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); as a punishment, a spirit decrees that someone be transformed into an animal: The Skunk Origin Myth (skunk), The Brown Squirrel (squirrel), How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (v. 3) (worm), Old Man and Wears White Feather (owl), Brass and Red Bear Boy (grizzly), The Chief of the Heroka (owl), Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (ant); a human turns into a (spirit) animal: How the Thunders Met the Nights (Thunderbird), The Dipper (hummingbird), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (blackhawk, owl), Elk Clan Origin Myth (elk), Young Man Gambles Often (elk), Sun and the Big Eater (horse), The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Were-Grizzly, Partridge's Older Brother (bear), The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother (bear), Porcupine and His Brothers (bear), The Shaggy Man (bear), The Roaster (bear), Wazųka (bear), The Spotted Grizzly Man (bear), Brass and Red Bear Boy (bear, buffalo), White Wolf (dog, wolf), Worúxega (wolf, bird, snake), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (buffalo), The Brown Squirrel (squirrel), The Skunk Origin Myth (skunk), The Fleetfooted Man (otter, bird), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (otter), The Diving Contest (Waterspirit), The Woman who Married a Snake (snake, Waterspirit), The Omahas who turned into Snakes (four-legged snakes), The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 3) (alligators), Snowshoe Strings (a frog), How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (v. 3) (earthworms), The Woman Who Became an Ant, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (ant); a human has an easy time hunting something that the spirits find hard to get: Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, The Thunderbird, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, 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, The Thunderbird, 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 Waterspirit that has been killed for food is called a "beaver" by spirits: The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Twins Disobey Their Father, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Bluehorn's Nephews, a spirit causes someone to fall asleep: The Brave Man, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads; someone about to be killed cries out to a spirit to whom he is related, and is saved: Porcupine and His Brothers, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Seven Maidens; an evil spirit is smashed to pieces by a club: The Red Man, Hare Kills Flint, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane, The Big Stone; spirits can be followed by stepping in their first four footprints: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Chief of the Heroka, Snowshoe Strings; a human joins up with the Thunderbirds: The Thunderbird, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Dipper; a human is transformed into a Thunderbird (or vice-versa): The Man who was a Reincarnated Thunderbird (Thunder > human); a group of young men plot to trick one of their number into falling victim to a Waterspirit: Įčohorucika and His Brothers, The Shaggy Man; someone is offered to a Waterspirit: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, White Thunder's Warpath, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Seer; a Waterspirit kills a human: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Two Children, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Seer, The Twin Sisters, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Blanket; a man injured by the Thunderbirds regenerates (in four days): Redhorn's Sons, The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, Bluehorn's Nephews; using body paint stored in a warbundle: The Red Man, White Thunder's Warpath, Paint Medicine Origin Myth; someone goes out searching for a missing person who was dear to them: The Woman who Married a Snake, Waruǧápara, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, A Man's Revenge, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Snowshoe Strings, Brass and Red Bear Boy; a bird(-man) is regenerated from a single feather: Bird Origin Myth, The Red Feather; a man injured by the Thunderbirds regenerates in four days: The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, Bluehorn's Nephews; someone returns from the dead: Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Sunset Point, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, White Fisher, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Shaggy Man, The Two Brothers, The Two Boys, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, The Man Whose Wife was Captured, The Lost Blanket, The Old Man and the Giants; a human becomes a Thunderbird: How the Thunders Met the Nights; someone aided by a spirit friend is left for dead by his colleagues, only to be saved by his friend and brought back alive to the grief of those who left him for dead: The Dog that became a Panther, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion; a nephew avenges the quasi-death of his uncle: The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Man with Two Heads, The Children of the Sun, Bluehorn's Nephews; spirits bless a man with an artifact: The Warbundle of the Eight Generations (warbundle, flute), The Blessing of a Bear Clansman (warbundle), The Thunderbird (warclub), The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds (warclub), The Rounded Wood Origin Myth (ceremonial object), Origin of the Decorah Family (drum), Paint Medicine Origin Myth (magical paint), The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth (flute and gourd), Disease Giv, Ancient Blessing (pot, ax, spoon), The Blessing of the Bow (bow and arrows), Heną́ga and Star Girl (Thunderbird Medicine, arrow); the Chief of the Thunders rewards a human with the Thunderbird Warclub for killing a Waterspirit: The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds; a warclub is a threat to creation: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; the future victims of a magical agent can be heard moaning: Bow Meets Disease Giver; a mortal is returned to earth from the spirit village that he is visiting: The Thunderbird, 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; spirits come together to pool their resources to give humans power over their enemies: Maize Origin Myth, The Children of the Sun; 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, The Thunderbird, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds.
Genealogy: Thunderbirds (+ Blue Thunder).
1 Paul Radin, "Winnebago Tales," Journal of American Folklore, 22 (1909): 288-300. E. W. Lenders, "The Myth of the 'Wah-ru-hap-ah-rah,' or the Sacred Warclub Bundle," Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 46 (1914): 404-420. Told by Joseph LaMère, Bear Clan, to Radin in the summer of 1908 and to Lenders in Aug.- Sept., 1909.
2 Radin, "Winnebago Tales," 288.
3 Charles C. Trowbridge, "Manners, Customs, and International Laws of the Win-nee-baa-goa Nation," (1823), Winnebago Manuscripts, in MS/I4ME, Charles Christopher Trowbridge Collection (02611), Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, 94.
4 Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966) 35-40.
5 Douglas, Purity and Danger, 94-113.
6 Zitkala-Ṣa, "The Making of Thunder People," Dreams and Thunder. Stories, Poems, and The Sun Dance Opera, ed. P. Jane Hafen (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001) 55-64.
7 Aileen O'Bryan, Navaho Indian Myths (New York: Dover Publications, 1993 ) 81-82. These stories were collected by the author in 1928 from Old Man Buffalo Grass.