Waterspirits (Wakčéxi)

by Richard L. Dieterle


"Waterspirits" is a name given to a powerful and often devious race of shape-changing spirits called Wakčéxi, a word of obscure meaning that has little to do with water. It is most probably from wąk, "person," and čexi, "difficult," an appropriate designation given the ambivalent and often sinister nature of Waterspirits.1 Nevertheless, it is not clear how an /ą/ in a hypothetical preform *Wąkčexi could have transmuted into a simple /a/. To this, compare Dakota, Uŋktéḣi, Uŋḣćéġila, "the Dakota god of the waters; a fabled monster of the deep; the whale; an extinct animal, the bones of which are said to be sometimes found by the Indians."2 In any case, the English name "Waterspirits" is appropriate enough, for, "If there was no Wakčexi there would be no water."3 Water is the very mystical body of the Wakčéxi, who express their physical force in the form of waves and whirlpools.4 Earthmaker created the Waterspirits and the Thunders first among the spirits,5 giving the Thunders control over the waters of heaven and the Waterspirits suzerainty over those of the lower world.

Wakčexi have their own natural and distinctive theriomorphic form. It is said that "the Wakčéxi, the water spirits or gods, good and bad, ... have each the form of scaly, four-footed beasts, with horns like an ox, and a tail indefinitely long, but with nearly human faces."6 Walking Cloud said, "The water spirit, I am told, has a long tail winding around his body, and has two horns."7 Some of these attributes can be seen in the inset drawn by a Hočąk artist. Other depictions have a strangely feline appearance, looking like a panther in the fore parts, but having a huge serpentine tail that can wrap round an entire hill. Their body, legs, and horns may assume the form of any animal.8 The snake is particularly common,9 but others sources also mention Beaver Waterspirits (Rap Wágᵋčexi), Elk Waterspirits (Hųwą́gᵋčexi), Deer Waterspirits (Ča Wágᵋčexi),10 and Bear Waterspirits.11 This spectrum of variation seems to be a mirror image of the variety of raptorial forms assumed by various Thunderbirds. The ox-like horns of some Waterspirits recall Greek water deities like Acheloos. Still other Waterspirits are characterized by having long ears.12 All Wakčéxi possess an appendage called a "scent bag" which can yield very powerful medicines.13 However, the odor is not agreeable to humans. A child who had been abducted by a Waterspirit was returned to her human mother, but the child's odor was so repulsive that her mother fainted. Eventually the odor faded away.14 Waterspirits are also differentiated by their color. The Red Waterspirits not only shoot jets of water, but shoot geysers of fire upward at their enemies.15 A green (čo) Waterspirit created the Wisconsin Dells,16 but after diving into Devil's Lake, he perpetrated many evils against the human race.17 The Waterspirit of the sacred color white, founded the Hočąk Waterspirit Clan.18 Another White Waterspirit bestowed the blessings of his body upon the Medicine Rite.19 White Waterspirits, at least, have round, red armpits.20

Waterspirits appear to fall into two tribes like all other spirits, Good Waterspirits and Bad Waterspirits. Waterspirits generally are associated with evil powers, but the Good Waterspirits are beneficent and try to use these dangerous powers to help humanity.21 On the other hand, there is a tribe of Wakčéxi, specifically called "Bad Waterspirits,"22 who are said to be spotted rather like snakes.23 These may be more prone to inflict retribution. Once a group of Waterspirits were assigned the role of punishing Holy One for his hubris in saying that he was the only wákąčąk (holy) being on earth. They killed his only brother and made his skin into a door flap. In revenge, Holy One killed two of the sons of the Chief of the Waterspirits, then stole back his brother's hide.24 Waterspirits are particularly associated with punishing those who sin in connection with water. When a pair of twins hunted sturgeon for sport, the spirit of the river overwhelmed them.25 When a Sioux warparty pursued Hočąk warriors across Green Lake, the Waterspirit to whom they had made so many offerings rose up and destroyed the enemy with a series of whirlpools.26

Waterspirits are rarely seen above ground or water. As the English version of their name suggests, they live in bodies of water or behind waterfalls,27 but they also have subterranean abodes lined with luminescent white clay28 or blue earth. More than one story describes it as "chalk."29 This substance is the dung of the Waterspirits.30 Consequently, when the bodies of two brothers were washed up on the shores of Lake Koshkonong, the discovery of white clay in their ears and nostrils demonstrated beyond doubt that they had been killed by a Waterspirit.31 Usually, they live under hills or earthen mounds like those of beavers,32 the resemblance being such that powerful spirits sometimes call Wakčéxi "beavers."33 It is said that, "the earth is an island in the ocean, and is held up by the Wakčéxi,"34 and that "there is another earth under [us], where the Wakčéxi reside, which they designate as the Mąnompáka or the 'Second Earth', and sometimes the 'Earth Under'."35 It is through this subterranean pathway that such Waterspirits as Traveler (a spirit deity in control of the earth), are able to roam to the four corners of the world. The roads of the Waterspirits were originally closer to the surface, but one of the accomplishments of Trickster was to push them farther down. The Mississippi was once inhabited only by Waterspirits and was one of their primary roads. The whirlpool, the "hole in the river," was another such road, but Trickster also pushed these down.36 Waterspirits are found at the farthest reaches of creation, where four of them hold down the corners of the world as Island Weights.37 Similarly, the boundaries of the Wazija, the territory of the Hočągara, are also marked by the presence of Waterspirits at key points.38

When Earthmaker created the world he looked down and shed his tears into the void. These tears became the waters, which are the essence of the Waterspirit's being. Then he put down land and the creatures that were to live on earth. However, the whole was unstable and whirled about, so he placed four Waterspirits at its corners to stabilize it.39 Just as the waters mirror the sky above, so the creative process of Waterspirits is a reversed mirror image of that of Earthmaker. The waters are at first still, then they begin to rotate until a whirlpool forms. Then various noxious creatures are ejected from the whirlpool. Finally, out of the depths comes fire (the opposite of water), and only then does the Waterspirit emerge.40 A Waterspirit who arose from the depths to give a human a blessing, only appeared after a burning log emerged from the whirlpool.41 Before the Waterspirit himself emerges, scouts (Waíxgi) surface to insure that no Thunderbirds are about.42 Earthmaker assigned to a green Waterspirit a particularly important creative role. This Waterspirit dug out a great channel with his teeth, melting the snow and ice as he went. From a whirlpool he threw off all kinds of game animals, and firing quills from his hide, he covered the landscape in trees. What he created is called the "Wisconsin Dells," a land fashioned as a new hunting ground for the Hočągara.43

Waterspirits can be very dangerous, creating whirlpools that have sucked under many a canoe.44 In the deep water off Governor's Island in Lake Mendota, there lay a den of Waterspirits who caused great disturbances in the water and overturned canoes.45 The Waterspirit of Green Lake created whirlpools by swirling her arms up. Those who did not make the proper offerings, would be sucked under.46 They often deliberately set out to capsize boats with their tails.47 Some Waterspirits are known to have eaten deer and elk whole.48 Their ferocity is not limited to swallowing swimming cervids, but extends even to the eating of human flesh.49 One Waterspirit used to eat children who swam in the Mississippi. When their bodies were found they had holes in the top of their heads.50 Waterspirits are particularly pleased with human offerings. A young man was once tricked by his brothers into a deep diving contest. The other brothers came up short, and the eldest cried out to the Waterspirit that his brother was a sacrifice. The brother never came back up. However, through the intercession of a Bear Spirit, his sister was able to find him in the middle of the winter. He was at the center of the lake with his feet sunk into the ice. She was later able to revive him.51 Once the green Waterspirit of Devil's Lake demanded the sacrifice of a maiden every year. A human spirit incarnation named "River Child" was born when a human placed the bones of a sturgeon into a deerskin. River Child discovered from talking to his sturgeon father that the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake was vulnerable in the corner of the left eye of his central head, so River Child launched an expedition against him which he kept secret from the medicine men, inasmuch as they were thought to be in league with the Waterspirit. In the end, River Child himself had to kill the Waterspirit by stabbing him in the vulnerable eye with a knife. Afterwards, whenever there was a thunder storm, the spirit of the Waterspirit could be heard shrieking.52 Waterspirits can usually be propitiated by offerings of tobacco and red feathers, which the cautious always present before crossing a dangerous body of water.53 When travelers came to a lake or river, they would "... put tobacco in the water out of respect to the water spirit. He owned all the water. After that they can drink all they want and go across it, or swim. Then nothing would happen to them. This was the custom. This was called tani wókišu ('tobacco - placing on water')."54 The Waterspirit of Green Lake is even the beneficiary of a special devotional festival which has paid off in Hočąk military victories.55

The Waterspirits are mortal enemies of the Thunderbirds, with whom they perpetually war. This struggle originates from the earliest times:

It is one of the old traditions that when the Thunder Birds or Winaxí first appeared, they lit fires (by lightning) somewhat indiscriminately, striking everything they came across, even to the Wakčéxi or Spirits of the Water and Under Earth, whom they kill and eat of — that is the Indians say whenever the lightning kills or blasts anything, they "eat it"; ... that is the substance is extracted and taken up. They say that whenever a hill is struck by lightning ... it is because a Wakčéxi is concealed under it (that is in its water-springs) whom the Thunders thus kill and eat.56

A human once went hunting with a Thunderbird. The Thunderbird kicked over a large mound which he called a "beaver lodge." When the "beaver" came out, the human shot him. Thus they ate broiled Waterspirit that night.57 On another occasion, a human who married into the Thunderbirds went hunting for Waterspirits. He found two red ones sunning themselves. He descended upon them in the form of a feather, and shot both of them with his arrows. The other Waterspirits chased after him, but he was just barely able to escape. His Thunderbird kin later returned to get the dead Waterspirits for a feast. From their hides they made blankets. As a reward for his feat, the human was given the Thunderbird Warclub.58 A young man who had been captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, went out hunting with Little Pigeon Hawk, the nephew of the Chief of the Thunders. He fired an arrow at a "beaver" but when he retrieved it, he found that it had chalk on it. When he returned to the area, he found that he was able to kill one of these creatures, in fact a Waterspirit, but an animal that the Thunders called a "beaver." Human are better at hunting Waterspirits because these creatures are usually invisible to other forms of life.59 When the Thunders wanted to rid themselves of an unwelcome human in their midst, they invited him to come with them to view a Waterspirit that they were not able to reach with their weapons. When the human looked over the cliff, they pushed him so that he fell into the water, where he was presumably eaten by the Waterspirit.60 When the Waterspirits fight the Thunderbirds, they fire jets of water skyward and counter the lightning of the Thunderbirds with huge boulders which they catapult out of the water.61 The rocks strewn around Boulder Lake in Wisconsin, for instance, are said to have been the vestiges of a great battle between the Thunders and the Waterspirits.62 When the Waterspirit Traveler fought the son of the Chief of the Thunders, he shot him down with a rainbow. Yet this was not enough to kill him, and he had to induce his human companion to finish the Thunderbird off. The result of this was that the human and his kinsmen were cursed by the Thunders and came to a tragic end.63 Others say that the Thunderbird was captured by the Waterspirits. They made peace with the Thunderbirds by allowing the captive to marry the daughter of their chief and in exchange for the Thunders sparing the life of their chief, they made them a hinŭ́kwagu offering ("to dip for women"). The offspring of this marriage between opposites was a merman once seen from time to time at Devil's Lake.64 Whenever the Thunders fly over the Ocean Sea that surrounds the earth, they come under attack by Waterspirits, who often kill the weakest among them.65 Ocean Duck (a Thunder), who was trying to make it back to his people, made offerings to a Waterspirit of tobacco, a white deerskin, and a red woven yarn belt tied to each of his horns if he would ferry him across the waters. The Waterspirit said that he would, but that he was to be told if any clouds formed, as he would have to turn back. So they set out, but when the clouds formed Ocean Duck said nothing, and made the Waterspirit travel so fast that he ran aground, plowing up everything in his path. Then Ocean duck called out to the Thunders to take the Waterspirit as an offering, and from the clouds they descended to eat him up completely, except for his scent bag. From this Ocean Duck made lethal medicines that burst people's stomachs.66 Sometimes the war between Thunders and the Wakčéxi is euhemerized. In the story of Brave Man, also known as "Waterspirit Bluehorn" (Wakčéxi Hečoga), his prisoners have their lips and ears cut off (as birds have neither) and the remainder have their eyes burst (as lightning comes from the eyes of Thunderbirds).67 This combat sometimes spills over into human affairs. Once a man married both a Thunderbird woman and a Waterspirit woman, who soon fell to fighting one another out of jealousy. Ever after this singular trauma, humans adopted monogamy as the proper form of marriage.68

Allied to the Thunders, if not one himself, is the famous son of Earthmaker, Redhorn. He is also Heroka, the chief of a race of diminutive spirits whose arrows are inerrant. He is known to the spirits as Įčo-horúšika, "He who has Faces on his Earlobes." He is allied to Morning Star, but it is his affinities with the Thunders that makes him inimical to the Waterspirits. His jealous brothers induced him to help them court an unusually beautiful woman. She was, in fact, a Waterspirit in human form. She enticed him to move over a trap door, and he fell into the underworld of the Bad Waterspirits. There he was chained down, while his captors contemplated his future as a meal. However, like Samson reinvigorated, he broke his irons and seized a flaming brand with which he put the Waterspirits to flight. With this brand he even lit the waters afire,69 just as he had in the form of Heroka, when he removed his single horn and set fire to the Ocean Sea.70 On another occasion, Redhorn led a warparty against two Red Waterspirits. The warparty attacked from the air, and as they fought, the Red Waterspirits shot up jets of flame at them. One of the Waterspirits actually killed Turtle by wrapping his long tail around him and dragging him under the water. Ghost, the older Twin, revived Turtle after they had killed the two Waterspirits.71

The blue of water and cloudless sky is the emblematic color of the Waterspirits, and when the gray clouds of the Thunderbirds vanish from the sky, a fisherman may catch a rare glimpse of one sunning himself on the banks of a river or a lake. When they bask in the sun, they always take the fat of their entrails and lay it out. It is at this time that they may be vulnerable to attack, so they are generally very cautious.72 When a Waterspirit is going to offer his body as a blessing, he will stipulate that the beneficiary meet him again on a clear day.73 It is said of Waterspirit Bluehorn that "Thus a blue sky did when he came to live among the humans, say the old people when they tell stories."74 The Waterspirits can therefore have a profound identity with the blue sky. While Bluehorn slept, one of his sisters tied his four queues of hair to the four corners of his lodge (like the vault of the sky anchored at the cardinal points), then called upon the Thunders to take him. When they captured Bluehorn, he was bent over backwards like the sky, and just as the gray clouds occlude the sky, so the Thunders ate Bluehorn as they went along. However, his nephews, the Twins, rescued him, and as the nebulous Thunderbirds scattered, Bluehorn was restored in body.75

Those who seek blessings from Waterspirits, like most fasters, typically make their vision quest in the winter. However, a Waterspirit will require that another meeting be made in the summer when he will bestow the blessing of medicine from his own body. In return, he will ask for tobacco, white deer skin, a dog, and red feathers (eagle down).76 Waterspirits offer their own bodies up for medicine, but require that they be carved up with a pure red cedar knife.77 Great care must be taken to follow the Waterspirit's instructions perfectly. He must be killed and his medicines extracted in just a certain way, and should there be a mistake, the Waterspirit will suddenly turn into impervious stone.78 In one case, when the beneficiary of this medicine turned it to evil purposes, the Waterspirit turned him to stone.79 The recipient of the blessing takes something from each of the parts of the Waterspirit's body, and these are placed upon a clean white deerskin. There they transform themselves into the medicines promised. The blood of a Waterspirit is made into wasé, a sacred red paint.80 When the man returns home with these medicines, he must give a Medicine Feast (Mąką́wohą) in honor of the Waterspirits and the medicines themselves.81 Waterspirits may give very great blessings, and the bones that they yield up to shamans are the most powerful medicine known.82 One medicine obtained from the ground bones of a Waterspirit is Nąsuhimąháp. This was an antidote to a certain kind of witchcraft. If a woman were to obtain some hair from a man's head, she might place it in a jar full of a certain kind of medicine, and as long as it remained there, she had control over him. This could be undone by making an incision in the scalp and placing some Nąsuhimąháp in the cut.83 Another potent osteological medicine is waračą́-hisgeja.

When the man comes to the sick man, the medicine is measured out with a wooden spatula (mąką́hirohira). He puts water in a small medicine stirrer wooden bowl and sings the proper song. ... Then he pours the medicine into the water. If medicine circulates around in bowl, the man will live; otherwise, he will die.84

This medicine was said to be infallible. Another part of a Waterspirit's body is his scent bag, a round pouch, red in color, located under its arms.85 From the scent bag can be made evil medicine that can cause a person's stomach to burst.86

Receiving a blessing from a Waterspirit face to face has collateral benefits, including a long and prosperous life. Such a man could also guarantee success in hunting by performing the Waną́čĕrehí rite.87 A Waterspirit dreamer (Wają́ča) who paints his face red with Waterspirit blood, will find that on visiting other tribes they will be induced to give him an abundance of gifts.88 Once a female Waterspirit gave a little girl a necklace with a single shell attached, but this shell had the power to grant the girl's every wish and to keep her forever from want.89 Another called "'Waterspirit Woman," granted Hare the power to make all things answer to his command so that he could work without labor. However, he violated a prohibition and lost this power for himself and all humanity.90 Once a girl was blessed by a spirit who said he was chief of the Wak’aiču, "Those having a Holy Tooth." He said that he was created by Earthmaker himself. This spirit was apparently the chief of the Waterspirits. In her fasting dream, the spirit climbed a tree in the middle of a lake and wrapped himself around it, then he spit one of his teeth into it. When the girl told her father of this vision and blessing, he told her to refuse it, as the spirit who gave it was evil. Thus she did, but the spirit told her that he had a good and an evil side to his body, and had she accepted his blessing, she would have been able to cure weak and nervous people.91 A Waterspirit once blessed Mąnį́xete’ų́ga with the power to transform himself into an otter. In this form he swam to get relief for the embattled Hočągara who were trapped on Doty Island by the Illinois.92

Sometimes Waterspirits adopt human beings into their families. Once a little girl was abducted by a Waterspirit woman who raised her as her own child. She kept her dressed in the very best finery, including wampum necklaces. Eventually she returned the child to her mother because she pitied them for the suffering they endured in being deprived of their daughter.93 Once a chief's son disgraced himself, so his father sewed him up into a bearskin and threw him into a river. He was rescued and raised by a Waterspirit. However, he turned into a merman, a fish from the waist down, and it was with great difficulty that he was later restored to his former condition.94 A human once married two Waterspirit women and had children by them.95

Waterspirits sometimes incarnate themselves as human beings, and indeed, the Waterspirit Clan of the Hočągara was founded by such as these;96 yet a Waterspirit in human guise can often be known by a tell-tale blue birthmark somewhere on the person's body.97 Waterspirits that assume the form of human females are said to be extraordinarily beautiful.98 There was one, judging from her name Wakčexíwįka, "Waterspirit Woman," whose unparalleled beauty was particularly expressed in her singular red hair.99 Once the Waterspirit Traveler and his sister were reborn as humans. Traveler intended to augment his power by assuming human form and gaining spiritual blessing from fasting. However, when he and his sister were reborn, they did not remember their former spiritual existence, and had to learn everything anew. Originally Traveler ate nothing but mulberries, so he was known as "the mulberry picker." Eventually he went courting at a village where he met his brother-in-law Turtle. There he married a princess, and Traveler's orphan friend married Traveler's sister. Traveler and his sister went home to the spirit village of the Waterspirits, but his brother-in-law could not go with his wife since he was still living in the flesh. One day the two mischievous sons of the brother-in-law took him to the spirit village anyway, but they created such havoc that they were sent back to earth, where they later made themselves great. The brother-in-law was allowed to be a sole exception and lived in the Otherworld with the Waterspirits.100 The Waterspirit Clan in the Hočąk nation was founded by a great white Waterspirit that arose from Within Lake (Green Bay) out of a whirlpool. When he arrived at Red Banks, where the other clans had assembled, they recognized him as a chief. Thus it is said that the Waterspirit Clan is the chief clan of the lower moiety just as the Thunderbird Clan is the chief of the upper moiety. The people of this clan are descended from Waterspirits. Thus they hold that water is their sacred possession, and when a Waterspirit clansman dies, a blue spot is painted on his forehead as a symbol of this aqueous nature.101 Once a year in March when the ice clears from the rivers, the Waterspirit Clan gives a feast in honor of the Waters (Nį Wohą́). After giving tobacco and red feathers to the Waters, they feast on meat.102


Links: The Waterspirit of Green Lake, Earthmaker, Spirits, Bluehorn, Redhorn, Heroka, Morning Star, Turtle, Traveler, One Legged One, Otter, Beavers, Island Weights, Thunderbirds, The Thunderbird Warclub, Wears Sparrows for a Coat, Fish Spirits, The Creation Council, Witches, Rock Spirits, Tree Spirits, Ducks, Foxes, Raccoons, Storms as He Walks, Lightning, The Wazija, Black Hawks, Hummingbirds, Martens, Bear Spirits, Bears, The Twins, Gottschall, The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. An American Star Map.


Stories: 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 Mulberry 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, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, 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, Waruǧápara, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Peace of Mind Regained, How the Thunders Met the Nights, 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; mentioning White Waterspirits: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, White Thunder's Warpath; mentioning Red Waterspirits: The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, The Thunderbird; mentioning Green (čo) Waterspirits: The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake; about (false) Elk Waterspirits: The Diving Contest, The Elk's Skull, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga.


Themes: a Waterspirit kills a human: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, Waruǧapara, 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 Waterspirit sucks under men in canoes: The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake; a Waterspirit demands that a human sacrifice be made to him: The Seer, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake; someone is offered to a Waterspirit: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, Waruǧápara, The Seer; a Waterspirit takes a child: The Lost Child, The Two Children, Old Man and Wears White Feather; a group of brothers plots with a Waterspirit against the youngest (who is the most favored): The Shaggy Man, Įčorúšika and His Brothers; a group of young men plot to trick one of their number into falling victim to a Waterspirit: Waruǧápara, The Shaggy Man, Įčorúšika and His Brothers; 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, Waruǧápara, Bluehorn's Nephews; a mortal causes a Thunderbird to triumph over a Waterspirit (or vice-versa): Traveler and the Thunderbird War, Bluehorn's Nephews; a powerful spirits (who are brothers) set out for the Mississippi where they kill a Waterspirit: Trickster Concludes His Mission, The Two Children, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins; Waterspirit that has been killed for food is called a "beaver" by spirits: The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, Waruǧápara, The Twins Disobey Their Father, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Bluehorn's Nephews; a powerful spirit burns down the abode of a Waterspirit: Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Lost Blanket, The Two Children; a hero shoots two Waterspirits in the heart: Holy One and His Brother, The Thunderbird; traveling by riding atop a water monster (or Waterspirit): Ocean Duck, Hare Gets Swallowed; a human lives with Waterspirits: The Mulberry Picker, The King Bird, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Phantom Woman; a man is captured by Waterspirits: Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Holy One and His Brother, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 5), Redhorn's Sons, The King Bird; Waterspirits lay a man on his back and bind him down: The Thunderbird, Įčorúšika and His Brothers; a Waterspirit tells a young man that another man close to him will have immortal life in the Waterspirit's company, but this comes to be denied because the other man fails to abide by the conditions of the blessing: The Seer, Lake Wąkšikhomįgra (Mendota): the Origin of Its Name; two Waterspirits sleep while basking in the sun: Holy One and His Brother, The Thunderbird, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty; long eared monsters: The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; flame throwing monsters: The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth; a green (čo) Waterspirit inhabits Devil's Lake: River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells; many objects float to the surface of a lake just before a Waterspirit rises from the depths: The Seer, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth; a Waterspirit is killed and his body is used as medicine: A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Great Walker's Warpath, The Tap the Head Medicine, The Seer; in human form, Waterspirit women are extraordinarily beautiful: The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Phantom Woman, The Mulberry Picker, Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2).


Genealogy: Traveler Genealogy.


Pictographs: Good and Bad Waterspirits, Thunderbird and Waterspirit, Whole Pictograph.


Notes

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]) sv če, p. 156. and sv wak, p. 409.

2 Stephen Return Riggs, A Dakota-English Dictionary, reprint edition (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1992 [1890]) ssvv, p. 485.

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

4 Paul Radin, "The Story of Holy One," Notebooks, Freeman #3859 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago IV, #4: 59-77 [= 969-987].

5 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col. 2.

6 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #3,: p. 32, col. 3. For the horns, see Charles Edward Brown, Lake Mendota Indian Legends (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, summer session, 1927) 4; Radin, Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 15.

7 Walking Cloud, "Narrative of Walking Cloud. In an Interview with the Editor," Reuben Gold Thwaites, ed., Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Vol. 13 (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1887) 466-467.

8 Paul Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic. A Study in Comparative Literature, Part I (Basil: Ethnographical Museum, Basil Switzerland, 1954) 82.

9 See, for instance, "Hinacax Ruwiná," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago III, #2, Section 7: XV-XVI.

10 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 108. For Beaver Waterspirits, see also "Story of the Flood and the Origin of the Spirit Home" ("Holy One and His Brother"), in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3897 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago V, #24: 1-51, 24.

11 RS [Rueben StCyr ?], "Snowshoe Strings," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #60: 4-33 [20].

12 Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 95-97.

13 Paul Radin, "Ocean Duck," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #13: 1-77.

14 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #3:, p. 3, col. 1.

15 Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 95-97. Informant: Sam Blowsnake of the Thunderbird Clan, ca. 1912.

16 Capt. Don Saunders, When the Moon is a Silver Canoe. Legends of the Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.: Don Saunders, 1947) 34-42.

17 Saunders, When the Moon is a Silver Canoe, 5-6.

18 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 193-195.

19 Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 339 nt 21.

20 Radin, The Road of Life and Death, 89-91.

21 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col. 3.

22 Paul Radin, "Intcohorúcika," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #14: 1-67.

23 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col. 3.

24 Radin, "The Story of Holy One," 59-77 [= 969-987].

25 Saunders, When the Moon is a Silver Canoe, 9-10.

26 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place-Name Legends, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1947) 8-18; Reverend Elmer C. Hamley, Monapacataca (Green Lake: 1933) 4-5.

27 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Indian Legends of Historic and Scenic Wisconsin, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1947) 17.

28 Fanny D. Bergen, "Some Customs and Beliefs of the Winnebago Indians," The Journal of American Folk-Lore, 9 (1896) 52. Paul Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #44: 1 - 74.

29 Paul Radin, "Winnebago Tales," Journal of American Folklore, 22 (1909): 300-303. Told by Joseph LaMère, Bear Clan, in the summer of 1908. Radin, "Winnebago Tales," 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.

30 Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Notebook #44.

31 From the website of John R. Sill, Koshkonong - The Lake We Live On.

32 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col. 3.

33 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col. 3; Paul Radin, "Mąšeniabera," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #21: 1-134; Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 97; Radin, "Winnebago Tales," 288-303; Lenders, "The Myth of the 'Wah-ru-hap-ah-rah,' or the Sacred Warclub Bundle," 404-420. Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Notebook #44. Paul Radin, "The Thunderbird," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #16. Told by James St. Cyr (Thunderbird Clan?), who obtained it from an unidentified Frenchman.

34 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col. 2.

35 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col.3.

36 Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) 52-53.

37 Henry Schoolcraft, Information respecting the Historical Conditions and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1852-1854) 4:230-231. Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 302-303.

38 Wally Funmaker, personal communication, March 5, 1986.

39 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 302-303.

40 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 193-194.

41 Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1927) 196-199.

42 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 109.

43 Capt. Don Saunders, When the Moon is a Silver Canoe. Legends of the Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.: Don Saunders, 1947) 5-6. His informant was Albert Yellow Thunder.

44 Charles Edward Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends (Madison: Works Progress Administration, Wisconsin, 1936) 10.

45 Charles Edward Brown, Lake Mendota Indian Legends (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1927) 6.

46 Hamley, Monapacataca, 4-5.

47 Radin, "The Story of Holy One," 59-77 [= 969-987]. Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends, 15-16.

48 Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends, 15-16.

49 Paul Radin, "The Two Children," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #66, Story #3. Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends, 10, 15-16. Radin, "The Story of Holy One," 59-77 [= 969-987].

50 Radin, "The Two Children."

51 Paul Radin, "The Hairy Man," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #9: 1-89.

52 Capt. Don Saunders, When the Moon is a Silver Canoe. Legends of the Wisconsin Dells (Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.: Don Saunders, 1947) 34-42.

53 Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place Legends, 10.

54 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 114.

55 Hamley, Monapacataca, 4-5.

56 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #2,: p. 3, col.3, quoting the interpreter Menaige (ca. 1850).

57 Paul Radin, "Mązeniabera," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, nd) Notebook 21: 1-134 [56].

58 Radin, "The Thunderbird," Notebook #16.

59 Radin, "Winnebago Tales," 300-303.

60 Radin, "Winnebago Tales," 288-300. Lenders, "The Myth of the 'Wah-ru-hap-ah-rah,' or the Sacred Warclub Bundle," 404-420.

61 Charles Edward Brown, Wigwam Tales (Madison, Wisc.: the Author, 1930) 14.

62 Henry Ellsworth Cole, Baraboo, Dells, and Devil's Lake Region (Baraboo: Baraboo Publishing Co., 1920) 29.

63 "The Struggle between the Son of the Thunderbird and the Son of the Waterspirit," in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Winnebago III, #11a, Freeman #3892 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1909?) Story 10: 126-139. Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (New York: D. Appleton Co., 1927) 179-185.

64 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 122.

65 Radin, "The Thunderbird," Notebook #16.

66 Radin, "Ocean Duck," Notebook #13.

67 Paul Radin, "Wak'cexi Hetcoga (Waterspirit Bluehorn)," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #66, Story 2: 1-13.

68 Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Notebook #44.

69 Paul Radin, "Intcohorúcika," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #14: 1-67.

70 Paul Radin, "A Trickster Myth," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #37: 1-70.

71 Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 95-97. Informant: Sam Blowsnake of the Thunderbird Clan, ca. 1912.

72 Radin, "The Story of Holy One," 59-77.

73 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 108, 120.

74 Radin, "Wak’tcexi Hetcoga (Waterspirit Bluehorn)," Notebook #66, Story 2, p. 13.

75 Radin, The Evolution of an American Indian Prose Epic, 80-84.

76 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 108, cf. 64, 107, 120.

77 Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher, 196-199. W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 108.

78 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 109.

79 Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher, 196-199.

80 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 110; see also, 107.

81 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 109-111.

82 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 240.

83 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 112.

84 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 115, 117.

85 Radin, The Road of Life and Death, 89-91.

86 Radin, "Ocean Duck."

87 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 112.

88 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 113.

89 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #3,: p. 3, col. 1.

90 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #3,: p. 2, col. 4 - p. 3, col. 1. Informant: Peter Menaige, interpreter at the old Minnesota Winnebago Reservation.

91 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 254-256.

92 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 111.

93 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #3,: p. 3, col. 1.

94 Oliver LaMère, "Winnebago Legends," Wisconsin Archeologist, ns 1, #2 (1920): 66-68.

95 Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Notebook #44.

96 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 194.

97 The Waterspirit Traveler painted his face blue when he went courting in human form. Paul Radin, "Wuwukih[i]ge," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) #45.

98 Radin, "Wuwukih[i]ge," Notebook #45; Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Notebook #44; Paul Radin, "Intcohorúcika," Winnebago Notebooks (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Notebook #14: 1-67.

99 Foster, Foster's Indian Record, vol. 1, #3,: p. 2, col. 4 - p. 3, col. 1. Informant: Peter Menaige, interpreter at the old Minnesota Winnebago Reservation.

100 Radin, "Wuwukihge," Notebook #45; Radin, "The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy," Notebook #44.

101 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 193-195.

102 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 177.