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W-File: le_thundermountain.html

Type: Indian Legend
Location: Marinette County, Wisconsin

Source: Wisconsin Lore by Robert E. Gard and L.G. Sorden (published in 1962) pages 186-187.



(Potawatomi Legend)

Now regarding the Thunder Mountain in the western part of Marinette County: Thunder is a large bird like an Eagle, only much larger. And when this bird was created it was made to have power in order to defend us from the great serpents, who wanted to kill and eat the human race. It was also to moisten the earth for vegetation. Thunderers, we call these great birds. One of them is called Chequah. And the mountain we call Bikwaki, so Thunder Mountain is Chequah Bikwaki.

Many, many years have gone by since the Hill received its name. In the beginning of its Indian history the Thunderbirds used to make their nests here and sit on their two eggs until their young were hatched. Some Indians many years ago in the summer time visited the Hill and were surprised to find several pairs of young Thunders. It was always the custom with Indians to offer tobacco for friendship and safety.

And later on in another visit by the Indians a pond was discovered on the top of the Hill. And it was dangerous. The Serpent who lives under the Hill had caused this to be so that he could sun himself when the sky was clear. And on a sunny clear day he was sunning, probably asleep, when a lone Thunder discovered him and decided to catch him alive and carry him off. So the Thunder came down from the sky and caught the Serpent. The Thunder would carry him high. The Serpent, struggling, would carry the Thunder back down on the pond.
At that time an Indian hunter who was passing happened to look to the top of the Hill and to his surprise saw the two struggling, and went up to witness the great fight. He was noticed by them, and the Thunderbird spoke and said, "My friend, help me, and shoot the Serpent with your arrow, and I will make you a great man!" The Serpent also spoke and said, "Help me, and shoot the Thunder, and I'll promise you my friendship to the end of all time!" The Indian did not know which one to help, so he shut his eyes and shot an arrow toward the fighters and shot the Thunder. That shot weakened the Thunder and he fell down and was taken under the Hill as a prisoner. The Thunderbird is still there, and the Hill is called Chequah Bikwaki. Whenever there is going to be a thunderstorm lightning is seen flashing from the Thunder Mountain.

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