by Richard L. Dieterle

Rušewe is the chief of birds, a turkey that caused panic among the Twins. His name seems to mean, "He Who Turns Loose (ruš-) Bravery or Spiritual Power (-šewe)."1 By this is probably mean one who unnerves someone. That he is a spirit that may confer blessings is seen in the fact that in the Bear Clan Warbundle Feast, a full kettle is put on in honor of him.2

Earthmaker created Rušewe to check the power of the Twins, who after completing their mission to rescue their uncle from the evil spirits, began to turn their power upon good spirits. Rušewe chased the Twins wherever he found them, until they finally sought refuge in the lodge of Earthmaker himself. The Creator was then able to curb their power.3 He is a source of irrational fear, causing the Twins, the most powerful beings in the cosmos to be overcome with panic. The source of their fear was described in detail. "It was one of the kind that has long hanging skin on their heads. He spread his tail feathers and made a noise in his stomach and held all its feathers out and looked big, and dragged its wing feathers on the ground and walked about. Thus he was doing when they saw him and became afraid of him."4

The reason for the power and prominence of the turkey lies in the fact that turkey feathers were used in the making of arrows.5

Links: Turkeys, Earthmaker, The Twins, Bird Spirits.

Stories: about Rušewe: Bluehorn's Nephews, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins; about turkeys: Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Bluehorn's Nephews, Hog's Adventures, Black and White Moons, The Birth of the Twins, The Annihilation of the Hočągara I, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Story of the Medicine Rite; about Bird Spirits: Crane and His Brothers, The King Bird, Bird 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, 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 (blackbirds, woodpeckers, hawks), Porcupine and His Brothers (Ocean Sucker), Turtle's Warparty (Thunderbirds, eagles, kaǧi, pelicans, sparrows), The Dipper (Thunderbirds, kingfishers, hummingbirds, black hawks), Kaǧiga and Lone Man (kaǧi), The Old Man and the Giants (kaǧi, bluebirds), The Bungling Host (snipe, woodpecker), The Red Feather, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, 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, 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 (turkey buzzard), The Shaggy Man (blackbirds), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (blackbirds), Redhorn's Sons (Thunderbirds, snowbirds), 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 Green Man (owls), The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds, and the sources cited there.


1 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]) 143 s. v. cewe, 379 s. v. ruc.

2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 500.

3 Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. Bollingen Foundation, Special Publications, 3 (1954): 83-84, 97; Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 55. Informant: Sam Blowsnake of the Thunderbird Clan, ca. 1912.

4 "Blue Horn's Nephews" in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, ca. 1912) #58: 94.

5 Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles, 94; Oliver LaMère (Bear Clan) and Harold B. Shinn, Winnebago Stories (New York, Chicago: Rand, McNally and Co., 1928) 135; W. C. McKern, "A Winnebago Myth," Yearbook, Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee, 9 (1929): 215-230 [216-217].