Native American Legends
The Thunder Nation and the Eagle
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
We'll talk about Thunder-Lightning and the Eagle. They say that
Thunder and the Eagle are fast friends. Long ago, Thunder spoke
to every wild creature -- everything that flew or everything with
four legs -- and to the Eagle he said,"I appoint you ruler.
You must have a meeting with all the wild creatures, and you must
answer all their requests. If you think they [the creatures] should
be a certain way,you make them that way. You must ask them what
they want to be," said Thunder.
So the Eagle called a meeting. All kinds of birds came to it.
When they arrived, the meeting was called to order. He [the Eagle]
asked each of them what he wanted to be able to do.
The Quail, who was very selfish when asked about anything, immediately
arose and went and stood beside the Eagle.
"Couldn't you give me power so that when a man sees me fly
he will instantly die of fright?" the Quail asked the Eagle.
"No,"said the Eagle. "You are entirely too small.
I could not give you that kind of power. But I can go this far:
I can let you fly, and when a man hears you fly, he will become
frightened," said the eagle to the Quail.
The Quail said,"All right."
That's the reason why when we hear one [a quail] flying, we become
frightened because he makes a whirring noise. That's all the power
he was allowed.
Next came the Terrapin that crawls on land. "I would like
to be able to produce a poison that kills people. Allow me that
kind of power." he said to the Eagle.
"No,"said the Eagle,"You are entirely too slow and
small." Thunder and the Eagle had a conference. (Thunder was
the ruler of all the Earth and Heaven. That's why he appointed his
best friend as Ruler of the Earth.)
The thing I especially remember about the doings of the Eagle is
that he gave a power to the Chickadee. He [the Chickadee] was given
the power to be something like a fortune teller among people in
that he could go where people were, and if they were going to have
visitors, he could inform them ahead of time. This could be done
by flying to a tree near them and singing a joyous song.
"Would you give me that kind of power?" asked the Chickadee.
So he was given that power. That's why the Cherokees say when they
see a chickadee fly into a tree, "The Chickadee says somebody
is coming." That's the power that was given to him they say.
Then the Redbird, the beautifully singing bird, came up: "Let
people have faith in me. I want to be able to sing joyful songs
when it is going to rain."
So he was given that power. That's why the old Cherokees believe
that when they see this bird singing atop a tree it will rain. That's
all the power he was given.
The Shrike came up and said,"All I want is to be an expert
dance caller."And so he was given that power.
Said the people long ago: the Eagle was the Ruler of the Earth,
but Thunder was the Ruler of the Whole Universe, and they got together
to decide if all their distributed powers were going to be satisfactory.
So said the people of long ago.
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