Monday, February 21, 2011


Not the car…I’m referring to the famous bird that claps through the sound barrier causing fear and awe to those who hear it. Those giant wings of his are capable of stirring the wind and sounding thunder whenever he beats them. This particular deity is a bird of power and strength - hence his immense popularity. Among all the Native American deity’s why does this one stand out among the rest?

The folk tales told by the numerous tribes across the Midwestern and Pacific Northwest are quite varied. However they all agree that they should never try to get him angry and do whatever it takes to keep him happy. Why? Well, it might have something to do with his ability to shoot bolts of lightening out of his eyes. Or perhaps it’s because he’s the only deity who controlled rain. If there isn’t rain…well…there won’t be many crops to harvest.

This picture shows a bolt of lightening shaped like a bird flapping its giant wings…

Of all the tales of deity, the most popular is the one of the whale.

Long ago a group of Native Americans grew restless from hunger. From his cave the benevolent deity saw their plight and flew out over the ocean to capture a whale. He then flew back with it and gently lowered it to the ground right in front of them. A spectacle of this magnitude must've been amazing to them…

I found the coolest tales of Thunderbird to be the one where they’re human shapeshifters! The giant bird capable of lifting a whale out of the ocean can shift into a small human? That’s just way too cool!

This legend tells of a group of thunderbirds (plural there) could shapeshift into human form by tilting back their beaks and shrugging off their blanket of feathers. These people then married into human families. After several generations, they soon forgot about their supernatural lineage. That is… until some foolish humans captured them and tried to enslave them… One can imagine what happened next, right?


Duckie said...

this is such a neat myth julie....i love native american mythology...great post hun

Sheri Fredricks said...

How cool. Very cool. Mythology makes for great stories and the Thunderbird (not the car! lol) would be awesome. Thanks for all your hard research and posting!