Manataka American Indian Council






Origin of the Thunderbird I Am Who I Am
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Origin of the



This is a legend of long, long ago times. Two Indians desired to find the origin of thunder. They traveled north and came to a high mountain. These mountains performed magically. They drew apart, back and forth, then closed together very quickly.

One Indian said, "I will leap through the cleft before it closes. If I am caught, you continue to find the origin of thunder." The first one succeeded in going through the cleft before it closed, but the second one was caught and squashed.

On the other side, the first Indian saw a large plain with a group of wigwams, and a number of Indians playing a ball game.  After a little while, these players said to each other, "It is time to go."  They disappeared into their wigwams to put on wings, and came out with their bows and arrows and flew away over the mountains to the south.  This was how the Passamaquoddy Indian discovered the homes of the thunderbirds.

The remaining old men of that tribe asked the Passamaquoddy Indian, "What do you want?  Who are you?"  He replied with the story of his mission.  The old men deliberated how they could help him.

They decided to put the lone Indian into a large mortar, and they pounded him until all of his bones were broken.  They molded him into a new body with wings like thunderbird, and gave him a bow and some arrows and sent him away in flight.  They warned him not to fly close to trees, as he would fly so fast he could not stop in time to avoid them, and he would be killed.

The lone Indian could not reach his home because the huge enemy bird, Wochowsen, at that time made such a damaging wind. Thunderbird is an Indian and he or his lightning would never harm another Indian.  But Wochowsen, great bird from the south, tried hard to rival Thunderbird.  So Passamaquoddies feared Wochowsen, whose wings Glooscap once had broken, because he used too much power.

A result was that for a long time air became stagnant, the sea was full of slime, and all of the fish died.  But Glooscap saw what was happening to his people and repaired the wings of Wochowsen to the extent of controlling and alternating strong winds with calm. 

             ŠJim Kitchens, Marfa, Texas, 1997

Ten American Indian Commandments

     1.   Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.

      2.   Remain close to the Great Spirit, in all that you do.

      3.   Show great respect for your fellow beings.

      4.   Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.

      5.   Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.

      6.   Do what you know to be right (Do not to fall into self-righteousness.)

      7.   Look after the well-being of mind and body.

      8.   Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.

      9.   Be truthful and honest at all times (especially be truthful
            and honest with yourself.)

     10. Take full responsibility for your actions.


By Nancy Wood


I would like to be a tree
But you would cut me down.
I would like to be a river
But you would build a dam.

I would like to be a bird
But you would poison what I eat.
I would like to be a deer
But you would shoot me for my meat.

I would like to be a fish
But you would catch me in your net.
I would like to be a coyote
But you would want me for my skin.

I would like to be a grizzly bear
but you would kill me because I'm rare.
I would like to be a flower
But you would pick me to take home.

I would like to be what I am
[An American Indian].
Is there any hope for that?

--- Nancy Wood (American Indian Poet)



During the four hundred and fifty years that white man has occupied the new world, he has improved man's agricultural products, but the white man has not developed a single major agricultural product from its wild growth, with the possible exception of guayule.   

However, the ancient Indians developed more than twenty important products and cultivated a great number of wild growths, all of which, acquired by the world, aggregate more than half our present agricultural wealth.  

Just so, the Indians contributed to the world the potato and the sweet potato, manioc (from which comes tapioca), pineapple, avocado, artichoke, and the peanut.  They cultivated strawberry, lima, frijol, kidney and tonka beans; squash and pumpkin; chocolate, rubber, quinine, cocaine and tobacco.  There are over forty lesser crops which were first developed by American Indians - for example, mate, maple sugar, pecans, brazil nuts, butternuts and sarsaparilla.  From Virginia to California, Indians processed acorns into an important food.

The development of corn by prehistoric Indians has been called the most remarkable achievement in agricultural history.  Of all grains, corn is the most completely domesticated, being the only one that cannot sow itself or take care of itself.  It must be shelled, planted, cultivated, usually fertilized, sometimes irrigated, and finally harvested.



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