This myth written by me, keeping Native American mythology, ranging from the Pacific Northwest to tribes in the Southeastern United States in mind!
The beginning of a spirit
In present day British Colombia, Canada there lived a Kwakwaka’wakw tribe that like any other north American tribe was peaceful and believed in spirits. But since ages, the people of this tribe were in hardship due to a Killer Whale that used to hamper the people’s fishing activity and with that a great number of people used to die everyday, one day a supernatural spirit saw from its home high in the mountains that the people were starving to death due to food crisis and drought. It soared out over the coastal waters, then plunged into the ocean and seized Whale. The unknown spirit eventually succeeded in lifting Whale out of the ocean, carrying it high into the air and then dropping it in the Pacific ocean that created a tsunami-like waves that moved towards the present day Japan, the battle was so intense that the entire trees were uprooted. This is why the prairie regions near the Pacific north-west coast mountains are treeless. Later the day, the unknown spirit caused a thunderstorm in the area that relieved the people from their difficulties and the normal routine of the people was restored. During the evening meeting of the tribe, the chief of the Kwakwaka’wakw tribe decided that they must follow this deity who had helped them in difficult times. Chief Ishi Yahi said;
“From the demons of the ocean to the spirits of the sky we must find the lord who pleased us with his power and strength. Oh my people find this spirit and show him our love”
The search in the mountains and the joys!
To find this spirit, the chief sent Kanee, one of his trust worthy people their task was to find the origins of thunder and lightning they will lead them to such a powerful spirit. Kanee searched day and night, they found an unknown mountain on the Vancouver Island as they reached the top of the mountain there was a cave. At first he was afraid as weird noises started to come from the cave but once they reached the cave they found a large, powerful blue bird with wings higher than the skies. There was a deep silence for a few moments and then the bird spoke;
“You have found a spirit who has saved you from the evil spirits of Ocean but the time of happiness has not come, it will return with greater number, dont mistake it for me!”
Shocked and confused from listening the last sentence, Kanee tried to question him, having said all this the Thunderbird disappeared with smoke everywhere in the cave and eventually Kanee fell unconscious. He woke up far away from the Thunderbird’s mountain, he had no idea how he found that cave and where it had gone but he still remembered everything Thunderbird told him. Kanee went to his village and told everyone about it, he also told the chief about the spirit’s warning about further unrest in the village, a warning Kanee did not tell the people. Chief Ishi Yahi told him; “Dont panic or worry as we have found a savior that will save this tribe from death and starvation, with its thunder and lightning, our miseries will end.” Kanee also believed that Thunderbird will save them. After many months, the people of the Kwakwaka’wakw tribe started idolizing the Thunderbird. They started making its statues with different colours and decoration. The people drew the Thunderbird everywhere in the caves; with every rain in the village their belief of Thunderbird became more deep.
Many generations passed in peace and though little problems came but were solved smoothly, people praised the mighty bird and instilled in their children the worship of their deity, their saviour. Generations after generation waited to see the bird just like the great Kanee had…
The Arrival: “…don’t mistake it for me!”
An ordinary day of 1770 a commotion in the ocean like never before occurred, the sound was deafening, unimaginably queer and loud, like a calling , a beckoning. “come my children , come………” They all rushed , gathered on the shore, they saw its wings, large, blue, they saw the ocean succumb to its powers, they sang songs and danced to please their deity but wait, many colorful creatures with hands and feet like them but very ugly they thought were coming out of their Lord….. but wait, it was not the thunder bird, it was a big house on water. The people thought, “what strange magic was this… what strange tribe was this…” They were powerful and killed many of their brothers, they were foes in friendly masks…. the tribe of Kwakwaka’wakw had been invaded!
Origins and features of the Thunderbird
According to various myths, the Thunderbird is a huge bird with an enormous wingspan who directly controls the weather. The bird caused thunder each time it flapped its gigantic wings. It could also cause rainfall and shoot lightning from it’s eye, more importantly it could cause great storms.
The Thunderbird was a powerful and intelligent creature. It could cause great storms at will, and was not to be messed with. Depictions of the Thunderbird can be found in many historic literature of various Native American cultures. Many totem poles depicts a Thunderbird perched on the top.
The origins of this bird are largely unknown. Some researchers believe that the Thunderbird legend is based on the sightings of real birds, with some even posing the argument that early sightings could have been from descents of the pterodactyl dinosaur species. Because of this, the Thunderbird goes from being merely a mythical creature to potentially also being a cryptid (a creature whose existence is reported but not prove).
It is generally assumed that Thunderbird is based on real species of birds, especially the Bald Eagle, which is very common on the Northwest Coast of Canada. Could it be?