Eagle Clan Origin Myth

In Radin's definitive work on the Hocągara, almost nothing is said about the Eagle Clan and no story of its origins is told. It is known that they had their own feast and possessed warbundles.1 The Eagle Clan (Caxšep Hik’ik’árajera) is generally recognized as the second most powerful clan next to the Thunderbirds, but the Wonáǧire Wąkšik Clan sometimes seems to compete for this status.2 In one story, the Eagle Clan is said once to have held the chieftainship of the tribe.3 Some Eagle Clan personal names are known publicly, but others are mixed in with other Bird Clan names and are difficult to verify as belonging specifically to this clan. However all names making reference to eagles are included with the understanding that at least some may be used by other clans of the Upper Moiety as well:4 

Hicaxšepewįga Eagle Woman
Hicaxšepsepga Black Eagle Woman
Manixonunįka (?) Little Walker (L)
Mąxiowikerega (?) Floating Cloud (L)
Cawaxšepsepga Black Eagle (L)
Caxšepsucga Red Eagle (L)
Caxšep Woruxji Eagle Looking
Wįka Duck (L)
Xorašucewįga Red Bald Eagle (D)
Xorahųka Bald Eagle Chief (L & D)
Xorap’aga Bald Eagle Head (L & D)

BAE 37: 248
The Funereal Face Paint
of the Hawk Clan

When an Eagle clansman dies, his face is painted in the pattern shown. This is so that he can be readily recognized on his way to Spiritland.

Version 1

Oliver LaMère, Bear Clan

This short version, which is told by Oliver LaMère of the Bear Clan, is taken verbatim from the Wisconsin Archeologist:

"When the time arrived for the clans to gather at Red Banks and form a tribe, the Thunder beings whom the Creator [Earthmaker] made were to send representatives; so two of the higher class of Thunders and two of the lower class of Thunders got ready to come. Even though they were of two different clans, yet they were brothers. So they came down toward the earth (after taking human form), and as they came down it rained, not hard, but just a mist, so one of them said: "Brothers, when we get to living on the earth, the first daughter I have born to me, I will call by the name of 'Mist Woman'." As they came to earth they lighted on a branch of an oak tree. So from that and from their actions, originated their names. (The same method was used in naming all of the clans.) When they came and formed a tribe with the other clans, the eldest brother was known as the Thunder Clansman, and the second and the third brothers as the Eagle Clansmen.

The oldest brother's color was red, the second blue, the third yellow, the fourth white.

The Thunders of the oldest brother are recognized when it rains gently and the color of lightning, and the War Thunders are recognized by their fierce storms. So after a rain it is possible to hear some old Indian remark that it was such and such Thunders which went past in the rain.

Thunders are the chiefs and the Eagles are the subdivision of the chief clan."5

Version 2 (Fragmentary)

Informant, Bear Clan

from the collection of W. C. McKern

Original manuscript pages: | 187 |

This quotation is from a leader of the clan impersonating the originator of the Eagle Clan.

"When we began to be, custom told the eagle band how to live strong. We got fire, blazing straight toward great spirit, not wavering, indicative of no trouble in our lives. Thus straight going smoke indicates no trouble. He made me leader, also. That is why I have come down here."6

Commentary. "the second and the third brothers" — in some locales there were no longer any Pigeon clansmen, so that some even claimed that this clan had died out, although this proves not to be the case. The second eagle brother has been rather artificially inserted for the founder of the Pigeon Clan on the supposition, presumably, that this clan no longer existed (see Pigeon Clan Origins). Thus, properly corrected, their relationship with one another should look like the following:

Here the Eagle Clan is assigned the color blue, but elsewhere this color is more often associated with the Hawk (Warrior) Clan.

"also" — there are two ways in which this can be taken: since the Bird Clan moiety is the Upper Moiety in rank as well as name, the Eagle Clan is also a leader with the other three Bird Clans; or, inasmuch as some villages were governed by a chief from the Eagle Clan, he may mean that where a Thunderbird Clan man is not available to assume the chieftainship, an Eagle clansman may assume this role, since his clan is the second in position of rank.

Links: Thunderbirds, Eagle, The Creation Council, Bird Spirits, Earthmaker.

Stories: about (the origins of) the Hocąk clans: Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, The Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Snake Clan Origins, Fish Clan Origins; mentioning eagles: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 2), Pigeon Clan Origins, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, The Hocąk Migration Myth, Trickster and the Eagle, 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; mentioning the Thunderbird Clan: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Origin of the Hocąk Chief, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, The Creation Council, Waruǧábᵉra, The Greedy Woman, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 5), The Thunderbird; 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, 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; 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 Hocąk 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, 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 Wagiceka, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Hocąk 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), 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 Journey to Spiritland (v. 4); about Earthmaker blessing or rescuing a person: The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), Waruǧábᵉra, The Seven Maidens, The Stone Heart, Pigeon Clan Origins; set at Red Banks (Mógašúc): The Creation Council, Annihilation of the Hocągara II, The Great Lodge, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2, 3, 5), Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3, 8, 11, 12), The Winnebago Fort, The Beginning of the Winnebago, Blue Bear, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, The Hocąk Arrival Myth, The Creation of Man (v. 10), Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins (fr. 1), Elk Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Šųgepaga, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e ("St. Peet," "Hocąk Origins"), The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), The Seven Maidens, First Contact, Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath.

Themes: four brothers, each of whom founded a Hocąk clan, are associated with a different color: Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv 4, 7), Pigeon Clan Origins; a class sorts into the four colors: blue, white, red, and black: Hare Kills Flint, Pigeon Clan Origins, Bear Spirits, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 7), Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store; red as a symbolic color: The Journey to Spiritland (hill, willows, reeds, smoke, stones, haze), The Gottschall Head (mouth), The Chief of the Heroka (clouds, side of Forked Man), The Red Man (face, sky, body, hill), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (neck, nose, painted stone), Redhorn's Father (leggings, stone sphere, hair), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (hair, body paint, arrows), Wears White Feather on His Head (man), The Birth of the Twins (turkey bladder headdresses), The Two Boys (elk bladder headdresses), Trickster and the Mothers (sky), Rich Man, Boy, and Horse (sky), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Spirit), Bluehorn Rescues His Sister (buffalo head), Wazųka (buffalo head headdress), The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (horn), The Brown Squirrel (protruding horn), Bear Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Deer Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (stick at grave), Pigeon Clan Origins (Thunderbird lightning), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks (eyes), Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (scalp, woman's hair), The Race for the Chief's Daughter (hair), The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy (hair), Redhorn Contests the Giants (hair), Redhorn's Sons (hair), The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle (hair), A Wife for Knowledge (hair), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (hair), The Hocągara Contest the Giants (hair of Giantess), A Man and His Three Dogs (wolf hair), The Red Feather (plumage), The Man who was Blessed by the Sun (body of Sun), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (body of the Warrior Clan Chief), Red Bear, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (Waterspirit armpits), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty (Waterspirits), The Roaster (body paint), The Man who Defied Disease Giver (red spot on forehead), The Wild Rose (rose), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (warclub), Įcorúšika and His Brothers (ax & packing strap), Hare Kills Flint (flint), The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head (edges of flint knives), The Nannyberry Picker (leggings), The Seduction of Redhorn's Son (cloth), Yųgiwi (blanket); clan names arise from incidents attendant upon the founding of the clan by its Animal Spirit progenitors: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Story of the Thunder Names, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, vv. 2a, 4, 7, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, vv. 1, 4, Snake Clan Origins.


1 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 172-173; Paul Radin, "Shugepaga," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #66, Story 1: 1-9. Informant: Caxcep Woruxji (Eagle Looking) of the Eagle Clan.

2 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 170-172.

3 Felix White, Sr. (Wolf Clan), "Origin of the Winnebago Chief," in David Lee Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997) 17.

4 The list of names is basically from two sources as indicated by the initial following after the English translation:

(D) Dorsey's Winnebago Vocabulary List, the Bird Clan names on which are reprinted in Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 173-176.

(L) Nancy Oestreich Lurie, "A Check List of Treaty Signers by Clan Affiliation," Journal of the Wisconsin Indians Research Institute, 2, #1 (June, 1966): 50-73.

5 Oliver LaMère, "Winnebago Legends," Wisconsin Archeologist, ns 1, #2 (1920): 66-68 [66]. Oliver LaMère was a member of the Bear Clan.

6 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 187.