Native American Symbol – Thunderbird

I was appreciating your art pictures and comments on the symbology, just wondering if you know of more about the Thunderbird symbol.
Thanks for sharing!

Legend of the Thunderbird

The Native American Thunderbird legend has been recorded through drawings, cave paintings, oral history, totem poles, and as a design element in many Native American artifacts and pieces of art for hundreds if not thousands of years.

Native American Thunderbird

Native American Thunderbird

Whether the symbol is specific to the Pacific Northwest Tribes and Plains Indians or is a cross-tribal symbol is debated.

At least 3 tribes have words for Thunderbird:

(From Wikipedia)

“The Thunderbird’s name comes from the common belief that the beating of its enormous wings causes thunder and stirs the wind. The Lakota name for the Thunderbird is Wakį́yą, a word formed from kįyą́, meaning “winged”, and wakhą́, “sacred”. The Kwakwaka’wakw have many names for the Thunderbird and the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) called him Kw-Uhnx-Wa. The Ojibwa word for a thunderbird that is closely associated with thunder is animikii, while large thunderous birds are known as binesi.”

Native American Thunderbird

Native American Thunderbird

Now whether the legend was borne from the sighting of a very large prehistoric bird or whether it is completely mythological is also unclear.

There have been some claimed sightings of large Thunderbirds in this century.

But some things seem to be common in all accounts of the Thunderbird legend.

The Thunderbird is large – his wing feathers are said to be 5 feet long giving the bird a wingspan (tip to tip) of 12 feet or more. Some reports say up to a 20 feet wingspan.

The Thunderbird is said to be involved in whipping up weather – thunderstorms, rain, wind, hail, snow and tornados and is capable of flashing lightning from its eyes.

Native American Thunderbird

Native American Thunderbird

Excellent articles:

Thunderbird and Trickster by Steve Mizrach

Quillayute and the Thunderbird

2 thoughts on “Native American Symbol – Thunderbird

  1. Pingback: I missed out on this buckle – help me find another Paula | Native American Jewelry Tips

  2. Pingback: Bracelet from the sale basket at the Heard Museum | Native American Jewelry Tips

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