Soon, within a few weeks, my latest effort, THE LAST WARRIOR, will be hitting the stands (early March 2008). Because this book is the last in a series that is set not only within historical times, but within the framework of Native American Mythology, I thought it might be fitting to talk about some of the legends of Native America.
The Thunder Being (or sometimes referred to as the Thunder Bird or Thunder God or Thunderer) is one of the main characters in this latest series of my books. His anger has been stirred by acts of violence against himself and his children by a clan that is part of the Blackfoot Indians — The Lost Clan as they are called in these stories. Interestingly, the Thunder Being plays a dominant role in most Native American tribes — perhaps because when one is living so closely to nature, the Thunderer, who can produce so much damage, would be a subject of much legend. In this series of books, the Lost Clan has been relegated into the “mist” by the Creator, who intervened on the people’s behalf when the Thunderer was bent on destroying every single member of the clan. Imprisoned within that mist, each band within the clan is given a chance within every new generation to choose a boy to go out into the real world, who is charged with the task of undoing the curse, thus freeing his people from what would be an everlasting punishment (they are neither real, nor dead). But, not only must the boy be brave and intelligent (there are puzzles to solve within every book), he must also show kindness to the enemy.
Let’s have a look at the Thunderer and some of the different lord about this being. In Blackfeet lore, the Thunderer often steals women. He also will often take the image of a very large bird — his wings creating the thunder and his eyes shooting out the lightning. In Lakota lore, if one dreams about the Thunder god, he becomes a backwards person. He must do everything backwards. He washes in sand, become dirty in water, walks backwards, says exactly what he doesn’t mean, etc., etc. The dream is so powerful that it is thought that if one fails to do these things, he courts certain death. In THE LAST WARRIOR, because the last warrior has been adopted by the Lakota, he believes this last to be true. And so when our heroine dreams of the Thunderer, our hero is at once worried and seeks to protect her all the more.
There is also a legend of the Thunder Being in the Iroquois Nation. In this legend, a young woman becomes the bride of the Thunderer and through him saves her village from a huge snake that burrows under her village, thus endangering the lives of everyone in her village. There is still another legend about the Thunder which you can watch on the Movie called Dream Makers — well, I think that’s the name of the movie (if I am wrong about that name, please do correct me). In this legend, which is also an Eastern Indian tribe, a young woman marries the Thunderer and goes to live with him in the above world, only to be returned to her own world when she becomes pregnant with his child.
What is very, very interesting to me is how many and how vast are the lores of Native America. Though we often hear or even study the ancient lore of the Greeks, seldom do we read much our own lore — the mythology that belongs intimately with this land we call America — which by the way, to the Native Americans on the East Coast, it is what we know as America is Turtle Island. Fascinatingly, there is a story for almost every creature on this continent, from the crow to the sparrow to the coyote (the trickster), the wolf and bear. There are legends about the stars, the Big Dipper hosts legends about the Great Bear (Iroquois) and the Seven Brothers and their sister (Cheyenne and Blackfeet). There are still other stories about the Morning Star and the Evening Star and marriages between the Gods and mortals.
So what I thought I’d ask, and what I thought I’d open up the discussion to, is not only what you think about myths (do you think they are stories about a past time or do you think, like many scientists of our day, that they are the works of imagination), but I’d love to know what is your favorite myth? Do you like best the stories about the stars, or the heavens, or the creation of human kind, or of love, or adventure? So come on in, and let’s see if we can tell some of these wonderful stories from our not-too-distant past.
THE LAST WARRIOR, March 2008