Blue Jay (Jejejiniga)

by Richard L. Dieterle

Blue jays are birds whose superficial beauty hides a less than perfect nature. Blue Jay once had a voice as beautiful as his plumage and was much in demand as a singer. However, he became so arrogant that Earthmaker decided to punish him: one day Blue Jay began to sing, but his voice came out as rough as his inner nature, and that's the way it has been ever since.1

The original deceptive appearance of the blue jay also expressed itself in other ways. When Wagíšega fasted to receive a blessing from Earthmaker, he received all sorts of promises from a brilliant blue spirit who said he was Earthmaker. This deceiving spirit turned out to be a blue jay.2

Jejejiniga, Blue Jay, once teamed up with Trickster, Little Fox, and Nit to fool villagers into taking them in for the winter. Trickster made himself into a woman and married the chief's son. However, his companions first impregnated him, so that he gave birth to three children. The second of these was Blue Jay's. In the end, Trickster's artificial vulva fell off, exposing their scheme, so that they all had to flee.3

The name of the blue jay, jejejiniga, seems to be derived from jek, "to be lively, mischievous."4

Links: Earthmaker, Bird Spirits, Lice.

Stories: featuring blue jays: Trickster Gets Pregnant, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega; 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 Hocąk 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, Waruǧábᵉra, 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), Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hocąk Migration Myth, 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, Įcorúšika 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 Story of the Medicine Rite (loons, cranes, turkeys), The Fleetfooted Man, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds.

Themes: vanity: The Skunk Origin Myth, The Baldness of the Buzzard; arrogance: The Skunk Origin Myth, The Fatal House, The Creation of Evil, Holy One and His Brother, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, The Foolish Hunter; a great spirit makes the outer nature of a being of beautiful appearance reflect the ugliness of its inner nature: The Skunk Origin Myth.


1 Charles E. Brown, Birchbark Tales: Animal Stories of the Wisconsin Indians (Madison: Wisconsin Folklore Society, 1941) 7.

2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 497.

3 "Wakjukaga," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3897 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago V, #7: 186-224. A translation has been published in Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) 21-24.

4 Mary Carolyn Marino, A Dictionary of Winnebago: An Analysis and Reference Grammar of the Radin Lexical File (Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, December 14, 1968 [69-14,947]) 208, ss. vv. jec, jek.