Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

  BAE 37: 248
  The Funereal Face Paint
of the Thunderbird Clan
  George Catlin
  The Thunderbird Warclub

The Thunderbird Clan is the Upper Moiety clan from which the chief was drawn. It was once a very large clan, perhaps comprising a quarter of the nation. The Warrior (Wónaǧirē Wą́kšīk), Buffalo, Deer, and Elk Clans performed certain services for the Thunderbird Clan, probably in connection with the function of the chief. The Thunderbird Clan had to be consulted on all important matters pertaining to things of the air, from trees up.1 When a clansman died his face was painted in a highly distinctive way: two stripes high on the forehead with numerous small dots forming a parallel line between the stripes and the eyebrows; a horizontal line across the mouth, a patch on the chin, and a thick horizontal line across the lower part of the throat. In early times a clansman was given a scaffold burial, but inhumation was practiced in more recent times, sometimes with an oak branch put in the ground at the head of the grave with a red stick hanging from it. Buried with the Thunderbird clansman is a special possession of the clan, the baldheaded warclub [inset], which is copied in miniature for this purpose. Fire is the sacred possession of the Thunderbird Clan and to ask for a fire brand from their fire is a breach of etiquette at the very least. Such requests are always refused, but the Thunderbird clansman is obliged to grant any substitute request whatever. (For more on this, see Version 7 below.) The fire is generally the symbol of sovereignty, and the Thunderbird Clan's possession of it is an expression of their entitlement to the chieftainship of the tribe. This is also reflected in the Thunderbird feast, which is called the "Chief Feast."

The primary chief who is always selected from the Thunderbird Clan, has a single function: the furtherance of Life, in the form of peace and welfare. From this function, his clan is called the "Good Thunderbirds" (Wakąja-pįga), as opposed to the Warrior (Wónaǧirē Wą́kšīk) Clan, who are known as the "Bad Thunderbirds" (Wakąja-šišira). In keeping with this distinction, the Thunderbird chief never heads a warparty.2 Every warparty had to be approved by the paramount chief. If a warleader proposed to take out a warparty and the chief thought this man to be lacking in the requisite spiritual blessings or in the necessary qualities of leadership, he would go to him with his peace pipe and ask him not to proceed with the venture. If this entreaty was ignored, the chief could go to the first night's encampment and lay his pipe across the path. The warleader would then be compelled to return, for to proceed under these circumstances would be sacrilegious.3 The chief's lodge was in the center of the village (although some have said it was in the south), and it contained a sacred fire next to which only members of the Thunderbird Clan could sit. Whether they were a prisoner, a criminal, or even a dog scheduled for sacrifice, anyone fleeing to chief's lodge was granted asylum. Prisoners of war who broke away and ran to safety in the chief's lodge received immediate pardon from the tortures they might otherwise expect to endure, and were thereafter adopted into the tribe, specifically the Thunderbird Clan. People in trouble could also seek refuge with the chief. It was his duty to try to reconcile quarrels that arose within the tribe, and to try to seek forgiveness for crimes. If a murderer gave himself up, his hands would be tied behind his back and the chief would lead him to the lodge of the victim's family, where he would present his sacred pipe on behalf of the accused and if any member of the victim's family took a puff from it, even a little child, then the murderer would be forgiven. If the chief wanted particularly to save the perpetrator, a well-liked chief in the Thunderbird Clan would have his back painted blue, after which they would put two skewers in the flesh of his back and attach a rope to them. He would then present the pipe to the victim's relatives, and if they did not wish to pardon the murderer, they would close their lodge flap in his face. These extremes on behalf of the worst sinners were but a reflection of the belief and expectation that the chief loved everyone in the tribe from its greatest men to its tiniest child. If a person were to pass near to the chief's lodge, he would always invite that person in for some food. If anyone wished to borrow something from the chief, he would give it to him outright with no expectation of its return. Politically the chief was the paramount leader, and either he, or his representatives, would be present at every council. His edicts would be promulgated by a public crier appointed from the Buffalo Clan, who would report to him every morning.4

There are several publicly known versions of he Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth:

Version 1. (307) In the beginning Earth-Maker was sitting in space, when he came to consciousness; and nothing else was there, anywhere. He began to think of what he should do; and finally he began to cry, and tears began to flow from his eyes and fall down below him. After awhile, he looked below him, and saw something bright. The bright objects were his tears, (308) that had flowed below and formed the present waters. When the tears flowed below, they became the seas as they are now. Earth-Maker began to think again. He thought, "It is thus: iI I wish anything, it will become as I wish, just as my tears have become seas.'' Thus he thought. So he wished for light, and it became light. Then he thought, "It is as I supposed, the things that I wished for, came into existence, as I desired." Then he again thought, and wished for the earth, and this earth came into existence. Earth-Maker looked on the earth, and he liked it; but it was not quiet, it moved about, as do the waves of the seas. Then he made the trees, and he saw that they were good, but they did not make the earth quiet. Then he made the grass to grow, but the earth was not quiet yet. Then he made the rocks and stones, but still the earth was not quiet. However, it was nearly quiet. Then he made the four directions (cardinal points) and the four winds. On the four corners of the earth he placed them as great and powerful people, to act as island-weights. Yet the earth was not quiet. Then he made four large beings and threw them down toward the earth, and they pierced through the earth with their heads eastwards. They were snakes. Then the earth became very still and quiet. Then he looked upon the earth, and he saw that it was good. Then he thought again of how things came into existence just as he desired. Then he first began to talk. He said, "As things become just as I wish them, I shall make one in my own likeness." So he took a piece of clay (earth) and made it like himself. Then he talked to what he had created, but it did not answer. He looked upon it, and saw that it had no mind or thought; so he made a mind for it. Again he talked to it, but it did not answer; so he looked upon it again, and he saw that it had no tongue. Then he made it a tongue. Then he talked to it again, but it did not answer; and he looked upon it, and he saw that it had no soul; so he made it a soul. He talked to it again, and this time it very nearly said something. But it did not make itself intelligible, so Earth-Maker breathed into its mouth and talked to it, and it answered.

As the newly-created being was in his own likeness, Earth-Maker felt quite proud of him, so he made three more just like him. He made them powerful, so that they might watch over the earth. These first four he made chiefs of the Thunder-Birds; and he thought, "Some will I make to live upon the earth that I have made." So he made four more beings in his own likeness. Just like the others he made them. They were brothers, (309) Kúnuga, Hénąga, Hágaga, and Nąǧíga. He talked to them, and said, "Look down upon the earth." So saying, he opened the heavens in front of where they sat, and there they saw the earth (spread out below them). He told them that they were to go down there to live. "And this I shall send with you," he added, and he gave them a plant. "I myself shall not have any power to take this from you, as I have given it to you; but when, of your own free will, you make me an offering of some of it, I shall gladly accept it and give you what you ask. This shall you hold foremost in your lives." It was a tobacco-plant that he had given them. He said also, "All the spirits that I create will not be able to take this from you unless you desire to give it by calling upon them during fasts and offering it to them. Thus only can the spirits get any of it. And this also I send with you, that you may use it in life. When you offer anything, it shall be your mediator. It shall take care of you through life. It shall stand in the centre of your dwellings, and it shall be your grandfather." Thus he spoke to them. What he meant was the fire. And then he gave them the earth to live on. So the four thunder-spirits brought the four brothers down to the earth. The oldest one, Kúnu, said while on their way down, "Brother, when we get to the earth and the first child is born to me, I shall call him 'King (Chief) of the Thunders' (Wakąja-hųka), if it be a boy." On they came down towards the earth. When they got near the earth, it began to get very dark. Then the second brother said, "Brother, when we get to the earth and a child is born to me, if it is a girl, it shall be called 'Dark' (Hokawaswįga)." They came to a place called Within-Lake at Red Banks, a lake near Green Bay. On an oak-tree south of the lake is the place where they alighted. The branch they alighted on bent down from their weight. Then said the third brother to his brothers, "The first daughter born to me shall be called 'She-who-Weighs-the-Tree-Down-Woman' (Nąnazogewįga)." Then they alighted on earth, but the thunder-spirits did not touch the earth. Then said the fourth and last brother to his brothers, "Brothers, the first son that is born to me shall be called 'He-who-Alights-on-the-Earth' (Mąjijega)." The first thing they did on earth was to start their fire.

Then Earth-Maker looked down upon them, and saw that he had not prepared any food for them, so he made the animals, that they might have something to eat. The oldest brother said, "What are we going to eat?" Then the youngest two took the bow and arrows that Earth-Maker had given them, and started towards the east. Not long after, the third brother came into view with a young deer on his back; and the youngest brother also came with a young deer about two years old on his back. The deer that were killed were brothers, and those that killed them were also brothers. They were very much delighted that they had obtained food. Then said they, "Let us give our grandfather (310) the first taste." Saying thus, they cut off the ends of the tongues, and the heart, and threw them into the fire with some fat. The first people to call on them were the War-People (Wónaǧirē Wą́kšīk). They came from the west. Then came four others. They were the Thunders. Thus they were called, the youngest brothers. Then came those of the earth. Then came those of the Deer Clan. Then came those of the Snake Clan. Then came those of the Elk Clan. Then came those of the Bear Clan. Then came those of the Fish Clan. Then came those of the Water-Spirit Clan, and all the other clans that exist. Then there appeared on the lake a very white bird, Swan they called it; and after that, all the other water-birds that exist came. And they named them in the order of their coming, until the lake was quite full. Then the people began to dress the deer-meat. Suddenly something came and alighted on the deer-meat. "What is that?" they said. Then said Kúnuga, the oldest brother, "It is a wasp; and the first dog that I possess, if it is black, 'Wasp' I shall call it." Thus he spoke. "And as the wasp scented and knew of the deer-dressing, so shall the dog be towards other animals; and wherever the dog is, and animals are in the windward, he shall scent them." They made a feast with the deer for Earth-Maker, and threw tobacco into the fire and offered it to him. And to the other clans they showed how fire was to be made, and gave them some. "For," they said, "each of you must now make fire for yourselves, as we shall not always lend you some." There the people made their home. It was just the time of the year when the grass comes as far as the knee (summer).

One day they reported that something very strange was near the camp; but they said to themselves, "We will leave it alone." In a little while it moved nearer. Thus it moved toward the camp, and soon it began to eat deer-bones. They allowed it to become one of the clans, and took it into their house. It was the dog or wolf. They killed one of them, and made a feast to Earth-Maker, telling him all about what they had done. In the beginning the Thunder clansmen were as powerful as the thunder-spirits themselves. It was the Thunder-People who made the ravines and the valley. While wandering around the world, the Thunder-People struck the earth with their clubs and made dents in the hills. (311) That is the reason that the upper clans are chiefs of all the others, and that the least of all are the Dog-People. So it was.

One day the oldest of the brothers lay down and did not rise again, and he did not breathe, and he became cold. "What is the matter with our oldest brother?" the three others said. Four days they waited for him, but still he did not arise. So the second brother was asked by his youngest brother what the trouble was. But he did not know anything about it, and told him to ask his third brother; but he did not know, either. Then the two older brothers asked the youngest one; but he did not know, either. Then they began to mourn for him, not knowing what to do or think. They fasted and blackened their faces, as we do now when we are mourning. They made a platform and laid him on it. When the snow fell knee-deep, the three brothers filled their pipe and went towards the place of the coming of the daylight, the east. There they came to the first being that Earth-Maker had placed in the east, the Island-Weight, as he was called. They came to him weeping, and went into his tent, turning the stem of their pipe [to] his mouth. They said, "Grandfather, our brother Kúnu has fallen, and is not able to rise again. Earth-Maker made you great, and endowed you with all knowledge, and thus you know all things." He answered, and said, "My dear grandsons, I am sorry, but I do not know anything about it; but as you have started to find out, I would refer you to the one ahead of me (the north). Perhaps he can tell you." So, weeping, they started for the next one. When they got there, and told him their troubles, he told them he could not help them. "But," he said, "perhaps the one ahead of me knows." So they started for the third one (the west), but from him likewise they could learn nothing. He also referred them to the one ahead (the south). When they reached the fourth and last one, they entered the lodge, and, behold! there sat the three to whom they had gone before. Here they asked the last one for help; and not only he, but the other three also, answered them, "Grandsons, thus Earth-Maker has willed it. Your brother will not rise again. He will be with (312) you no more in this world. And as long as this world lasts, so it will be with human beings. Whenever one reaches the age of death, one shall die, and those that wish to live long will have to attain that age by good actions. Thus they will live long. Into your bodies Earth-Maker has placed part of himself. That will return to him if you do the proper things. This world will come to an end some time. Your brother shall keep a village in the west for all the souls of your clan, and there he shall be in full charge of all of you. And when this world is ended, your brother shall take all the souls back to Earth-Maker; at least, all those who have acted properly. Thus it was. Now you may go home and bury your brother in the proper manner." The Thunder-People thanked the four spirits and left their tent. When they got home, they took their brother's body, dressed him in his best clothes, and painted his face. Then they told him where he was to go, and buried him with his head toward the west, and with his war-club. They placed the branch of a tree at his grave, and painted a little stick red and tied it to the tree, so that nothing should cross his path on his journey to the spirit-abode. If any thing or animal should cross his path on that journey, he must strike it with his club and throw it behind him, so that those relatives he has left behind on earth might derive blessings in war and attain long life. He would have his pipe and food along with him on his journey, and thus the things that he throws behind him will be a blessing for those still remaining on earth. Also the life he leaves behind him (i. e. the years that, had he lived to a normal age, are still due him) and the victories that he might have gained — all these he is to give to his relatives. The riches he might have had — or, in fact, anything that he could possibly have had — he is asked to give to these relatives. Then they will not feel so unhappy and lonesome. Such is the story up to the time that the spirit starts on his journey to the spirit-land.

The Winnebagoes always encouraged one another to die on the warpath, because, if one dies in battle, the person would really not lose consciousness, but simply live right on in the spirit, and death would seem to him as if he had stumbled over some object. So they would say. If you wish to have a happy life as a spirit, do not die in your house. If you die in your house, your soul will wander all over the earth in want, and when people eat at the four-nights' wake, you will not get anything. If they drink water, you will remain thirsty. It is said that (313) people not dying on the warpath will, as spirits, have to content themselves by pointing to food and drink, and licking their fingers. Those that die in battle have a village four days' distant from the general village of the souls. They are in need of nothing, as they plant and raise their own food, and have so many clothes that they look as if they were covered with furs. They play ball and have lots of fun, ride horseback, and dance. If any of them should desire to return to the earth and become alive again, they can do so. The wounds, however, from which they died, remain with them in the spirit world. Those who lost their scalps are without scalps. Some are without heads, and some without scalp locks. They can see their relatives here on earth whenever they wish to. So the people encouraged one another to die bravely and on the warpath.5

Version 2. Four brothers descended from heaven and landed on a tree at Nįžahe ("Cliff Place"?). They first flew around the world going sunwise, then they repeated the journey traveling on earth and ended up at Te Rok ("Within Lake" = Green Bay). There they built lodges. While they were engaged in the project, the oldest brother behaved as if he had been struck dumb, and stood motionless. Then he spoke up, and asked the second eldest brother how they should proceed. He replied that being younger he would hardly know more than his seniors; nevertheless, he asked his next youngest brother. This brother gave much the same reply, and asked the youngest who replied, "Yes I do know something," whereupon he took a stick from the oak tree on which he was sitting and started a fire by spinning it like a drill. This fire was brought to earth where it blazed up nicely.

Whenever the brothers encountered something that they had never seen before they gave it a name, and eventually they named everything. When they were ready to eat, the second brother merely reached out and there was an animal in his grasp. They were innocent of any knowledge of tools or utensils, so they cooked their meat by skewering it on sharp sticks. The eldest one invented utensils and made the first clay pot. As they were living around Within Lake, other clans came by to get their fire from the Thunders. It was then that the practice of exchanging women in marriage between the Upper Moiety and the Lower Moiety first began. The eldest brother married someone from the Waterspirit Clan, and the second brother married someone from the Bear Clan. The second brother was the founder of the Warrior (Wonáǧire Wąkšik) Clan.

The Thunder clansmen do not claim to be descended from Thunderbirds, but because they caused fog and drizzle whenever they went about, just like Thunderbirds, they called themselves "Thunders." As they traveled towards Red Banks the eldest brother invented the names to be used for members of the Thunderbird Clan based upon things that happened along the way. However, one day at dawn the eldest brother died. None of the others understood what had happened, but eventually they came to understand. His soul went west, blazing a trail for all who were to come after. He therefore became the chief of the village of the dead.6

Version 3

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

(23) Yes, the coming of the younger brothers. "What will we speak?" "Hocąk we will speak." "You are right, that we will speak." "What shall we eat?" "If we see an animal, we will eat it." "I will go and look. I have brought a deer here. We will eat it." They built a fire. They broiled it, cooked it, and ate it. (24) Then they heard something. They listened to it. They started to head out. And two persons came. "Yes, you that sit opposite to me, what relation will you be to me?" "What should I be to you?" "You shall be my chief." "Listen, some are saying something." "Well, our friends have come." "You that sit opposite, yes indeed, as long as we shall live, we shall tend the fire for you." (25) "Listen, our friends are speaking." "Yes, sit opposite me." They sat down. "You, Waterspirit Clan, my friend, have a seat." "What relation will you be to me?" "What should I be to you?" "You shall be my chief." "Good." "Listen, a dog is howling. (26) Let's wait for him." Thunderbird waited for him. "Let us call him." "Yes, my friends, the two legged walkers, we will teach them something." The Hocągara, thus they will ever say. If some people live, thus they shall say. "Listen, someone has said something." Two people came. "It shall be called 'the Buffalo Clan'."7

Version 4 (by Frank Ewing, Wicáwa(x)šép [Eagle] Clan). God created eagles and places them [four spirit beings] below him. Four brothers were derived from them and came from a lake called Térok (Green Bay) at Red Bank. When they came down they alighted on an oak tree, each one on a different branch. (Frank belongs to the second one that came down.) Then they were to name each other. After they got through naming, they commenced to eat the things that they were to eat thereafter. On their journey to a place where they were to meet some others, i.e. a gathering, where all the Winnebago originated at Red Banks. These were the other spirit clans at Red Banks, and they were all to take human form there. These spirits all belonged to the earth. After the four brothers had lived on earth awhile and had children, they went home.8

Version 5 (fragmentary). "The Earthmaker made the Thunder-bird clan first, and after he made them they flew down and alit on a tree."9

Version 6 (in the form of notes). "[The] Thunder tribe, four men and four women, brothers and sisters, were first created. They had no children until they came to this world. They came from heaven. The Creator told them that He would not call them 'Indians' but 'Ho-can-gra'. 'You shall call yourselves 'Ho[-can-gra]' and shall speak Ho[-cank].' Five families: Thun[der], Bear, Spirit, Wolf, [...]."10

Version 7
The Origins and Sacred Possessions of the Thunderbird Clan

by J. F. [John Fireman ?]

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

(1) When the various kinds of humans originated, the Thunderbird Clan came there from Earthmaker. All the Thunderbird subclans originated first. And then there originated afterwards the subclans of the War People who followed. Therefore, the Thunderbird Clan said, "It's the War People." They called the Thunderbird Clan, "Older brother." And there they originated one after the other.

The Thunderbird Clan themselves had the fire originally. They knew of it. And so the Thunders will cause trees to burn that are impossible to burn because their wood is wet, and when they wish to make it burn, it will be such that it cannot be put out; the fire the Thunders possess and are fully in control of, this fire the Thunderbird Clan also has. Since they own the things from which fire originates, they also are able to start fire. (2) They keep fire burning, and heat themselves by this fire. Indeed, so all the subclans that lived, approached the Thunderbird Clan one by one. They would say, "My chief, we have come for your fire. We come to borrow from you." Then they would let them take fire home. Since then, they ate cooked food. Before they knew of fire they were eating things raw, so it was a good thing to know. They lived well.

And to ask them for fire where they stood was an insult. They would ask someone from the Thunder Clan to come after fire from a Thunderbird clansman. Since all of the clans took their fire from there, one came after fire. And, in any case, he would not insult them. (3) He would say, that one at least thus speaking, I mean, if they were going to get fire from the Bird Clans' fire there, if he says, "I beg fire," it would be insulting. Whatever good thing the Thunder clansman possessed, such as clothing he wore, this is the sort of thing that he would give him on account of insulting them. So the one who tendered the insult, because he did it unintentionally, in this case is alright, since it is not something sinful. If someone tries to insult him intentionally in order to get something that he likes from the one whom he is going to insult, if he says that, he is making for himself a sin, one that they used to strictly forbid one another, it is said. If he says something to try to intentionally insult him, he will say it to the injury of his own life, they have always said. They held it to be very sacred. (4) When on occasion they happened to insult one another, it was, in any case, very shameful for the one who was given something, so they didn't usually insult them. They were very vigilant in the way that they lived. They lived then in a very vigilant way. They were very much afraid of it.11

Version 8 (fragmentary), of the Bear Clan

from the collection of W. C. McKern

Original manuscript page: | 32 |

The Thunder clan was first in point of origin. The Thunderers perched on the branch of an oak tree before they finally descended to the surface of the land. That is why the oak club is used by the Bear police in the Winnebago village. The village chief is always member of Thunder clan. That was the first clan. The second clan was the Bear clan.12

Version 9 (fragmentary), of the Thunderbird Clan

by Good Thunder
narrated by Peter Menaige

"Chief 'Good-Thunder' gave this story of the Thunders coming on earth: that four were made and sent down: first, the principal Thunder Bird, then the Eagle (but he was confused as to the other two); they alighted first on an oak tree; on their way coming down they had four stopping places, and when they got to the earth, the Thunders made the fire, and that is where the Indians first got it from."13

Commentary. "consciousness" — The origin myth of the Winnebago medicine-lodge begins with the same words. The phraseology is extremely similar, as are the incidents, up to the point where the four thunder-birds are created. Every incident up to that point, with the exception of the tears forming the seas, is found in the former legend. The wishing for light is not mentioned there, and the earth is created by Earth-Maker, and is not the result of a wish. The phraseology of the translation is strongly influenced by the translator's acquaintance with biblical English, and does not correspond strictly with the Winnebago text. It is not to betaken as any evidence of missionary influence upon the contents of the myth. — Radin

"the four winds" — The cardinal points and the winds have separate names, but these are interchangeable. Only one personage is meant. —Radin

"made it like himself" — In the origin myth of the medicine-lodge, man is created from the rib of Earth-Maker, mixed with earth and rolled into a ball. —Radin

"it answered" — In the creation myth of the medicine-lodge, the senses are infused into the clay image by Earth-Maker first touching his own mouth, ear, etc., and then touching the corresponding organ of the image. —Radin

"fire" — fire is the sacred possession of the Thunderbird Clan because it is the symbol of sovereignty. This story sets out nicely two of the reasons for this. One of them is that the fire is the means by which the sacrifice is sent to the spirits. This makes the fire especially sacred, and those who own it have something spiritual that cannot be rivaled by any other kind of clan possession. The second is that the fire is located in the center. The center is the place of control where all the cardinal points converge. Whoever controls the center, therefore, controls the cardinal points, which is to say everything. The light of the fire itself has the power of radiation, and so reaches out simultaneously to all the cardinal points in relation to which it is the center. In the Deer Clan Origin Myth, light is replaced by sound, since the latter also has this same property of radiation from a center in all directions. The Deer Clan uses sound in its mythology to help establish a "partial sovereignty."

"War-People" — I strongly suspect that these War-People really represent the Hawk Clan. The few Indians among the Winnebagoes who were referred to me as " War-People " belonged to the Hawk Clan. According to one informant, the third of the original Hawk brothers was the progenitor of the War-People. —Radin

"those of the earth" — Here my informant refers to the second " phratry" [moiety] of the Winnebagoes. The first "phratry" comprises the Thunder, Eagle, Pigeon, and Hawk people. —Radin

"all the other clans that exist" — the only clan unaccounted for is the Buffalo Clan. That clan has the function of the village crier, a man who must roam about the land of the village giving out the commands of the chief. Therefore, this clan is connected to the expanse of the earth. The earth itself is said in the creation myth to be a buffalo, a fact which cements the identity of the clan with the earth. That the buffalo should have been selected as the earth derives from the fact that the vast buffalo herds seem to traverse the whole of the land from one end to the other, and therefore seem to have a singular claim to occupying it.

"as powerful as the thunder-spirits themselves" — According to others, the Thunder-People were merely transformed thunder-beings who took human shape at the general meeting of all the animals, near Red Bank, Green Bay. However, another member of the Thunder-Bird Clan told me the story of their origin substantially as it is found here. They were called Thunder-People because they imitated the actions of the thunder-spirits. —Radin

"snow" — In ritualistic tales the word "snow" is expressed by the term "the body of the nephew," meaning the rabbit. The rabbit, the creator of the medicine-lodge, is known as Hicųšgé Gikarájiréra ("him whom they call the nephew"); and when this phrase is used for him, it is always symbolical of snow. The term "hare" (wašjįgéga) itself is never used with such a meaning. "Snow knee-deep " is also the name of one of the four divisions of the year, to which our seasons conform only in a rough way. —Radin

"the fourth and last one" — The visit to the four cardinal points also occurs in the creation myth of the medicine-lodge. There the rabbit seeks to discover whether death cannot be recalled. He has caused it by disobedience of his grandmother's orders. However, there the first three give him no chance to talk, but calmly tell him that they know what he has come for, and that they can give him no information, referring him to the one ahead in each instance. The last one, however, instead of answering his question, simply tells him that if the preceding three spirits, all of whom are so much more powerful than he, could not give him any information, how could he be expected to. —Radin

"red" — The oldest brother, according to many Winnebagoes, is supposed to have had red hair. —Radin

"journey to the spirit-abode" — The remainder of this myth is practically a summary of "The Journey to the Spirit Abode," as related on the last night of the four-nights' wake. It does not belong to what goes before, but is merely a descriptive detail added by the informant. The foregoing myth is related at the winter feast given by the possessors of the sacred bundles of the Thunder Clan. Each clan has its own origin myth and winter feasts. —Radin

"they own the things from which fire originates" — this would mean that no one can start a fire, they can take fire only from preexisting fires. This insures that all fires originate from a Thunderbird fire.

"an insult" — this seems to contradict the assertion that people had to ask for fire from the Thunder chief. However, what seems to be meant, is apart from "borrowing" fire from the chief to start a fire in a lodge, it was insulting to ask for fire from a Thunderbird clansman for mundane purposes. As subsequent explanation shows, that once a clan or band had obtained fire from the chief, they were to take fire from their own fireplaces, but they could not start a fire. At the top of page 3, Radin says, "It's all right to say I come after fire but not to say I beg fire." This may hinge on the distinction between borrowing and possessing. Only the Thunderbird Clan can possess the fire. At the same place, Radin clarifies the Hocąk word translated here as "insult": "Wagirácanaⁿ = really means the use of words where they shouldn't be used."

"someone from the Thunder Clan" — apparently the problem was in asking for fire from the fireplace of a Thunder clansman's lodge. However, it seems that if another of his clansmen asked for fire from his lodge fireplace, that was considered proper etiquette. So if someone needed fire for his lodge, he could obtain it through an intermediary from the Thunder Clan.

"the Thunder clansman" — it may seem odd, but it is the victim of the insult who gives a gift. The gift in this context is in place of giving the insulting man the object of his request, the sacred fire in the possession of the Thunderbird Clan. The high quality of the compensatory gift is a reflection of the value in which the clansman holds the sacred object in his possession.

In the story The Thunderbird, we are told that the Thunderbird clansmen at least formerly had the ability to control the rain, and this was due to intermarriage with the celestial Thunderbirds.14

"the oak club" — McKern says, "The bear band policed village. Each had oak club — the insignia of bear band." (19) Each policeman carried what we would now call a "nightstick." "Women caught in adultery were beaten with the oak sticks of authority ... Police clubs were not marked, they were straight sticks, about 3´ to 4´ long, and 1½″ in diameter at the butt end. Mąmáše was the name of this club." (20

"Good-Thunder" — Wakąjapįga, from Wakąjá, "Thunderbird"; , "good"; and -ga, a personal name suffix. Good Thunder[bird] signed the Treaties of 1846 and 1865. Lurie records him as a member of the Thunder Clan.15 Kinzie's Receipt Roll of 1832 shows him to be living in Fond du Lac, which was the same village in which Black Hawk was living at the time. Jipson has this to say about Good Thunder:

According to Philip Long[tail], a grandson, Good Thunder was one of three brothers, the two brothers consisting of Ho-ra-pa-gaw, meaning, "Eagle Head" and Shaw-nee-aw-kee, meaning in the Sioux language, "White Goose." The family had Sioux blood. Good Thunder had a son called "Long Tail" who was the father of Philip Long[tail]. ... In 1850 Good Thunder's name was given in the census. His band [was] composed of 59 people, according to a statement made by by his son. Mr. Hall (to Thomas Hughes): Good Thunder's village in Blue Earth County stood on the present site of Good Thunder (44.001162, -94.064167), and consisted of about fifteen to twenty lodges made of bass wood or elm bark: most were (263) square in construction. There were about one hundred persons in the band. In the winter they lived in the timber by the river in smaller tepees [lodges] which were round and ten or twelve feet in diameter, covered with a sort of matting made of leaves of bull-rushes or cat-tails, which were sewed into a thick matting four a five feet wide. The leave were sewed together, one on top of the other with basswood bark fibre. The leaves in such a matting would stand edgewise to the tepee. Some times two layers were used. The tepees were round and matting wound around the poles and part of the end of the matting was used as a door to swing back and forth. In the spring, this tepee was taken down and preserved for the next winter. On the flat by the river, Good Thunder had corn fields. The corn was cured by laying the ears of green corn with husks on, on top of some stones under which was an excavation filled with dry wood. The wood was set on fire and covered the earth allowing it to smolder for two or three days.16

"White Goose" in Sioux is Maġaska. The name Shaw-nee-aw-kee, Ojibwe for "Silver Man," was given to John Kinzie. However, here we learn that a third brother (Hagaga) had the same nickname, and is therefore almost certainly the man otherwise known as "White Goose."

Comparative Material. The following origin myth comes from the closely related Oto. It is the Origin Myth of the Eagle Clan: "At one time we lived in heaven, way up in heaven, many, many years ago. After a while we grew tired of living up there. Four men, they say, said: "Now let us try and get away from here and find another world." The oldest was Hégenu, the second Héna, the third Háka, and the fourth was Hakáiyiŋe. They found a hole and they came down to this earth. [From the incidents of their descent, they gave themselves names.] While they were walking, they came on bear tracks. They thought: 'We were here first, but we don't know.' The four men stopped and saw the tracks. They followed the tracks and came to them [the Bear gens]. They met. Bear had his pipe. Eagle had his. So they smoked. Eagle smoked his pipe; Bear smoked Eagle's. They were friends. So they are friends today. Since that time they have been living together."17

The foundation myths of the Osage clans tend to be very similar to one another, with the exception of the Isolated Earth Clan. They are also strikingly similar to the origin myths of the Hocąk Bird Clans. These Osage were created in the heavens, and in the lowest heaven they were given souls. They were brought to earth by a celestial eagle (species differ), and alighted on seven trees. In some versions, the earth is covered with water, and various helpful spirits contribute to making the earth suitable for living. They took names from incidents that took place in their primordial sojourn and from sacred objects which they encountered.18

"the least of all are the Dog-People" — the Fox also preserve this notion of the Wolf Clan in their own nation. Jones says of them, "These are a lower grade of people. They cannot be chiefs. They can be councilmen, and can be warriors, but they must be of a lower class, and they cannot rise to distinction. The chief gentes or royal gentes call them their waiters." Of the Thunders, on the other hand, "A member of this gens can be chief, can be a councilman, and can lead a war party ..."19 For more on these social distinction in the context of the Hocągara, see the "Wolf Clan Origin Myth," Comparative Material.

The tribal origin myth of the Iroquois, told from the Tuscarora perspective, has interesting parallels with our Hocąk story. After Sky Holder created humanity, he decided to create one group of men who would have superior virtue. He brought down six pairs. Each pair became one of the tribes of the Iroquois: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and the Seneca. The last pair became separated and ended up in North Carolina. Sky Holder himself stayed with them and taught them many useful things. For this reason the Tuscarora are his Chosen People; however, the Onondagas say they have this honor because they possess the Council Fire. The clans gained their names from the animals that they habitually hunted: Deer, Wolf, Tortoise, and Eel. However, the Turtle Clan has a very different origin. One year long ago the water in which the mud turtles were living dried up. So the mud turtles set out to find a new home. A particularly fat mud turtle was having a hard time moving, so he cast off his shell. Eventually, he changed almost everything until he had transformed himself into a man. This man was the founder of the Turtle Clan.20

The Cherokee also attribute to the Thunderbirds the introduction of fire to the earth. They say, however, that the Thunders shot lightning into a hollow sycamore tree on an inaccessible island. Several animals tried to obtain it, but in the end only the water spider could extract it from the sycamore.21

Links: Thunderbirds, Black Hawk, Eagle (II), Earthmaker, Ghosts, Island Weights, The Creation Council, Bird Spirits, Tobacco, The Thunderbird Warclub.

Stories: about (the origins of) the Hocąk clans: Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, 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 the Thunderbird Clan: Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Origin of the Hocąk Chief, Bird Clan Origin Myth, Eagle 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; about the Hawk (Warrior) Clan: Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Berdache Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins, The Creation Council, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2); 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, 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 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; mentioning eagles: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, 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 pigeons: Pigeon Clan Origins, Waruǧábᵉra, The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Lost Blanket, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Bird Origin Myth, Origin of the Hocąk Chief, The Creation Council, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, The Creation of Man (v. 2), The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Gottschall: A New Interpretation; 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), 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, 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 (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 Journey to Spiritland (v. 4) — see also Thunderbirds, and the sources cited there.; making reference to the baldheaded warclub: Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Morning Star and His Friend, Wears White Feather on His Head; about the creation of the world: The Creation of the World; Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Šųgepaga; mentioning Island Weights: The Creation of the World, The Island Weight Songs, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, East Shakes the Messenger, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, North Shakes His Gourd, Wolves and Humans, Šųgepaga, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Lost Blanket, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, South Seizes the Messenger, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Messengers of Hare, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Petition to Earthmaker; making reference to cosmic ages: The Cosmic Ages of the Hocągara; about the Creation Council: Tobacco Origin Myth, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Origin of the Winnebago Chief, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Snake Clan Origins; about entitlement to chieftainship: Origin of the Hocąk Chief, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Origin of the Decorah Family, The Glory of the Morning, Pigeon Clan Origins, Snake Clan Origins; 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 Man Who Lost His Children to a 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), Waruǧábᵉra, The Chief of the Heroka, The Red Man, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Annihilation of the Hocągara 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, The Story of the Medicine Rite; mentioning oak: 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, Waruǧábᵉra, 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 tobacco: Tobacco Origin Myth, Hare and the Grasshoppers, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth (v 2), How the Thunders Met the Nights, Grandmother's Gifts, The Thunderbird, First Contact, Peace of Mind Regained, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, The Dipper, The Masaxe War, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth; in which fire plays a role: The Creation Council, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Message the Fireballs Brought, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Four Steps of the Cougar, East Shakes the Messenger, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, North Shakes His Gourd, The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2), Red Cloud's Death, see Young Man Gambles Often (Commentary); mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Petition to Earthmaker, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hocąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hocągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Hocągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; mentioning snow: Waruǧábᵉra, The Glory of the Morning, 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, Trickster Gets Pregnant, The Raccoon Coat, Silver Mound Cave, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married; set at Red Banks (Mógašúc): The Creation Council, Annihilation of the Hocągara II, The Great Lodge, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3, 8, 11, 12), The Winnebago Fort, 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), Eagle Clan Origin Myth, 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; set at Green Bay, "Within Lake" (Te Rok): Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Story of the Thunder Names, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 4), The Seven Maidens, Ioway & Missouria Origins, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Great Walker's Warpath, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2), The Fox-Hocąk War (v. 2), The Creation Council, First Contact, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e; mentioning feasts: The Creation Council (Eagle Feast), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (Eagle Feast), Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth (Waterspirit Feast), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (Mąką́wohą, Waną́cĕrehí), Bear Clan Origin Myth (Bear Feast), The Woman Who Fought the Bear (Bear Feast), Grandfather's Two Families (Bear Feast), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (Wolf Feast), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Feast), Buffalo Dance Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (Buffalo Feast), The Blessing of Šokeboka (Feast to the Buffalo Tail), Snake Clan Origins (Snake Feast), Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief (Snake Feast), Rattlesnake Ledge (Snake Feast), The Thunderbird (for the granting of a war weapon), Turtle's Warparty (War Weapons Feast, Warpath Feast), Porcupine and His Brothers (War Weapons Feast), Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega) (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), White Thunder's Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Fox-Hocąk War (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Šųgepaga (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (Warbundle Feast, Warpath Feast), Black Otter's Warpath (Warpath Feast), Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (Warpath Feast), Kunu's Warpath (Warpath Feast), Trickster's Warpath (Warpath Feast), The Masaxe War (Warpath Feast), Redhorn's Sons (Warpath Feast, Fast-Breaking Feast), The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits (Fast-Breaking Feast), The Chief of the Heroka (Sick Offering Feast), The Dipper (Sick Offering Feast, Warclub Feast), The Four Slumbers Origin Myth (Four Slumbers Feast), The Journey to Spiritland (Four Slumbers Feast), The First Snakes (Snake Feast), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (unspecified), Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts (unnamed).

Parts of version 1 are told in greater detail in the Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation of the World (v. 2), and The Wolf Clan Origin Myth (v. 6).

There exists a rather more euhemerized story (still a waiką) of the origin of the Thunderbird Clan and the Bird Clan generally. It describes how a single boy was a sole survivor of his clan, but was taken into Hocąk society and became the progenitor of the Thunderbird Clan. Since it resembles more the stories of the annihilation of the Hocągara, it does not belong with the present set of myths.

Themes: being carried (off) by a bird: The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Baldness of the Buzzard, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Boy who Flew, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Heną́ga and Star Girl, The Old Man and the Giants; Thunderbird people are ignorant of tools: How the Thunders Met the Nights; Thunderbird people roast meat over the fire on sharpened sticks: How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Dipper; obtaining meat by merely reaching out and having an animal come to hand: Bear Offers Himself as Food; having a role in starting the first fire: Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 2); clan names arise from incidents attendant upon the founding of the clan by its Animal Spirit progenitors: Story of the Thunder Names, Eagle Clan Origin Myth, 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; Earthmaker gives humanity control over tobacco (to compensate for its powerlessness): Tobacco Origin Myth, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth (v. 2), The Creation of Man (v. 11); the youngest offspring is superior: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Young Man Gambles Often, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Twins Cycle, The Two Boys, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Children of the Sun, The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, The Raccoon Coat, Wojijé, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Sun and the Big Eater, The Story of the Medicine Rite, Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 4, 7), Snake Clan Origins, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Snake Clan Origins; platform burials: Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Little Fox and the Ghost, Snowshoe Strings; a tree (branch) at the head of a grave: The Boy who would be Immortal; death enters the world for the first time: Holy One and His Brother, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Necessity for Death, Death Enters the World, Deer Clan Origin Myth; after his death, the brother of a holy spirit goes west to rule over a Spiritland village of the dead: Holy One and His Brother; someone travels to each of the four corners of the world seeking help from the spirit who resides there in averting death from his relatives, but each spirit in turn confesses that he can do nothing: Death Enters the World, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth; four spirit beings help those who travel to Spiritland: The Lame Friend, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Petition to Earthmaker; 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), 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, Eagle Clan Origin Myth (eagle), 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).


1 Oliver LaMère, "Clan Organization of the Winnebago," Publications of the Nebraska State Historical Society, 19 (1919): 86-94 (92). Oliver LaMère was a member of the Bear Clan.

2 Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 160-168.

3 LaMère, "Clan Organization of the Winnebago," 88-89.

4 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 159-163. LaMère, "Clan Organization of the Winnebago," 89.

5 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 164-168; a better translation exists in Sam Blowsnake (Thunderbird Clan), Crashing Thunder. The Autobiography of an American Indian, ed. Paul Radin (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983 [1926]) 33-40. Retold by Charles E. Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends (Madison: Works Progress Administration, 1936) 4-5.

6 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 169.

7 "Clan Origin Myth," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3881 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago V, #8: 23-26.

8 Frank Ewing, Untitled, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3881 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1908) Winnebago I, #7a: 125-127.

9 John Rave (Bear Clan), "Thunderbird Clan," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3881 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1908) Winnebago I, #7a: 17.

10 Papers of Alice Fletcher & Frances La Flesche, MS 4558: Research of Alice Fletcher & Frances La Flesche, Series 26 & 27: Other Tribes, 1882-1922 [26], Box 31 (Washington, D. C.: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, n.d.).

11 Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Notebook 77: 1-4.

12 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 32.

13 Thomas Foster, Foster's Indian Record and Historical Data (Washington, D. C.: 1876-1877) vol. 1, #2: p. 3, coll. 3.

14 Paul Radin, "The Thunderbird," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook 16. Interlinear Hocąk and English on unnumbered pages. Told by James St. Cyr (Thunderbird Clan?), who obtained it from an unidentified Frenchman.

15 Lurie, "A Check List of Treaty Signers by Clan Affiliation," 71, #118.

16 Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923 [unpublished]), 262.

17 William Whitman, Origin Legends of the Oto, The Journal of American Folklore, 51, #200 (Apr. - Jun., 1938): 173-205 [187]. Whiteman adds, "Told by G. W. D., Eagle gens, who was an orphan. He paid $10 for this fragment of Eagle Origin Legend which he got from a distant paternal uncle."

18 Louis F. Burns, Osage Indian Customs and Myths (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2005 [1984]) 179-193.

19 William Jones, Ethnography of the Fox Indians, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 125 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1939) 74.

20 Ella Elizabeth Clark, Indian Legends of Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1960) 3-4.

21 "The First Fire," in James Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (Asheville, North Carolina: Bright Mountain Books, 1992 [1891/1900]) Story 2: 240-243.