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Thunderbird and Whale – Wikipedia

Thunderbird and Whale – Wikipedia

2023-10-10 23:04:53

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thunderbird and Whale” is an indigenous fantasy belonging to the mythological traditions of numerous tribes from the Pacific Northwest.


The parable of the epic wrestle between Thunderbird and Whale is present in widespread amongst completely different language/cultural teams of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast,[1] and appears to be uniquely localized to this space.[2] It’s also the foremost archetypal motif in carvings and painted artwork, significantly among the many natives alongside the outlying coasts of Vancouver Island,[4] e.g., the Kwakiutl (Kwakwakaʼwakw)[5] or the Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) folks.[6]



One model will be summarized as follows:

Whale was a monster, killing different whales and depriving the Quileute tribe of meat and oil. Thunderbird, a benevolent supernatural being, noticed from its dwelling excessive within the mountains that the folks have been ravenous.
It soared out over the coastal waters, then plunged into the ocean and seized Whale.
A wrestle ensued; the ocean receded and rose once more. Many canoes have been flung into bushes and many individuals have been killed.
Thunderbird ultimately succeeded in lifting Whale out of the ocean, carrying it excessive into the air after which dropping it.
Then one other nice battle occurred on the land.[citation needed]

The famine skilled on Quileute might not essentially be blamed on the whales, and Thunderbird makes a present of a whale, its standard prey to the ravenous people, as in a model collected by Ella E. Clark (pub. 1953).[a][7]

There are additionally disparate quick items of lore which Clark stitches collectively into one narrative;[8][7] with the person items resembling the quick lore collected by Albert B. Reagan (principally 1905–1909).

Thus one narrative tells of the Thunderbird pitted in opposition to its prey, the whale which saved making an attempt to elude seize, and this escalated to such turmoil that it uprooted bushes, and no tree ever grew again once more within the space.[10][8]

One other narrative is the recurrent battle between Thunderbird and the “Mimlos-Whale”, an orca that repeatedly escapes to sea after seize, and this wrestle resulted in nice tremors within the mountains and leveling of bushes, providing a mythic rationalization of the origin of the Olympic Peninsula prairies.[11]

See Also


A number of the lore among the many Kwakwakaʼwakw, concerning the Thunderbird’s has been collated by Franz Boas.[12][b]

However in Boas’s model the battle takes place between Thunderbird and Ōʼᵋmät (Okay!wēʼk!waxāʼwēᵋ),[what language is this?] the chief of the animals. The latter retaliates in opposition to Thunderbird carrying away one among his sons, by elevating a military carried in a synthetic whale. Within the battle on the village, Thunderbird’s 4 kids (named “One-Whale-Service”, and so on.) are drowned, and Thunderbird himself is killed, survived solely by the “nine-month outdated toddler within the cradle”.[12]


In one among many variant variations of the parable, the sound of the whale dropping into the ocean is the supply of thunder. A younger boy of a Vancouver Island folks, the Comox, was fascinated by the sound of thunder, and heard it from behind some extent of land. He crossed that time, following the sound of thunder, and found the spectacle of the Thunderbird seizing and dropping the whale. The Thunderbird noticed the boy, and advised him that the story was now his, and he had the proper to put on the Thunderbird masks and wings on the potlatch.

Reconstructing the parable[edit]

Within the Nineteen Eighties, geologists discovered proof that an earthquake, highly effective sufficient to ship a tsunami all the way in which to Japan, hit the American Pacific Northwest in 1700. Some ethnologists consider that “Thunderbird and Whale” is an outline of that catastrophe.[13][14]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ “Thunderbird and Whale 1”, informant: Jack Ward of Lapush, Washington, who discovered it from his father who died in 1954 at age 98.
  2. ^ A number of whales are claimed to look in 1d (Boas (1935a) Tales, pp. 27–31) in line with Ludwin et al. (2007), p. 70, however no thunderbird seems on this (nor 1a, 1b, 1c) as verified by the motif chart (“Tabulation of story components”, p. 77 and Ludwin et al. (2005), p. 142)


  1. ^ Ludwin et al. (2007), pp. 68–69 and Fig. 1.
  2. ^ Ludwin et al. (2007), p. 72: “distinctive to the Cascadian coast”.
  3. ^ Malin, Edward (1999). Northwest Coast Indian Portray, Home Fronts and Inside Screens, Portland, OR: Timber Press, 288 pp. 105,
  4. ^ Ludwin et al. (2005), p. 145;Ludwin et al. (2007), pp. 70–71, citing Malin (1999).[3]
  5. ^ Goddard, Pliny Earle (1924). Indians of the Northwest Coast. New York: American Museum of Pure Historical past. p. 145.
  6. ^ Ludwin et al. (2007), p. 71, fig. 3.
  7. ^ a b Clark, Ella E. (1953). “Thunderbird and Whale (Quillayute)”. Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. Robert Bruce Inverarity (illustr.). College of California Press. pp. 161–163. ISBN 9780520002432.
  8. ^ a b Clark (1953), p. 163 “Thunderbird and Whale 2”.
  9. ^ Reagan & Walters (1933), p. 320, “Thunderbird captures a whale”, informant: Luke Hobucket.
  10. ^ Reagan (1917), p. 13, “The Thunder-Fowl, the Unsuccessful Battle with the Mimlos-Whale, and the Origin of the Prairies of the Olympic Peninsula”; Reagan & Walters (1933), p. 320(=Ludwin et al. (2005, 2007) 14a), “Thunderbird fights Mimlos-Whale”, informant: Luke Hobucket (police).
  11. ^ a b Boas (1935b), pp. 157ff and textual content, in Boas (1943).
  12. ^ Ludwin (2002); Ludwin et al. (2005), pp. 140, 143–145; Ludwin et al. (2007), pp. 70–71, 78; cf. cf. Ludwin (2002) webpage.
  13. ^ U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) (2005). “Native American Legends of Tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest.” Western Coastal and Marine Geology.

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