The Legend of the Thunderbird
The Thunderbird was chosen as the Totem of Troop 50 because, for centuries, it has represented the Spirit and Philosophy of Scouting; as it reveres people who embrace TRUTH, PURITY, LOYALTY and DUTY to "Human Beings."
Our troop's neckerchief is embroidered with a Thunderbird. We wear them with pride and dedication.
Legends of the Thunderbird have occurred in Native American Mythology and Religion in almost every Tribe and Nation to inhabit the United States. The Iroquois of the Eastern Nations, the Shawnee of the Woodland Tribes, the Sioux of the Plains and Nez Perce of the Northwestern Tribes all recognized the Thunderbird as a mighty force against the Evil Spirits of the Underworld. The Thunderbird was the Spirit of all things good for the native peoples; and was a constant protector against the Spirits of the Underworld.
The legend of how the great Thunderbird, Wakan Tanka, saved the "Human Beings" from the evil underworld water monster, Unktehi, comes to us from the vision quest of a Brule - Sioux Medicine Man. Because of her dislike for any creature unlike herself, Unktehi decided to flood the earth and destroy the "Human Beings."She did this by swelling her body to fill all the oceans, rivers and streams; leaving no room for the water. This caused a great flood which covered the earth, except for a few mountain tops.
The truthful, pure, and loyal "Human Beings" fled to these mountains to survive. Wakan Tanka seeing this, decided to help these "Human Beings" and began a great battle with Unktehi that lasted for many years. Wakan Tanka first tried to fight Unktehi on the water but suffered many wounds and was losing the battle. Wakan Tanka withdrew to the sky and called the Thunderbirds and their young to a council where it was decided that to fight Unktehi in her world of water was futile and it was best to fight from their world, the sky.
It was decided that all the Thunderbirds would release their lightening bolts at the same time. This was done and the waters boiled and Unktehi was burned as were all the forests and the land was desolate except for those truthful, pure, and loyal "Human Beings"on the mountain tops. Nothing was left of Unktehi but her bones which had turned to stone and can still be found in riverbeds all over the earth. Wakan Tanka caused rain that nourished the people, and they flourished. Wakan Tanka was therefore revered in all the Tribes as a powerful ally of the "Human Beings."
The Thunderbird was believed to be the source of the rain, the lightening and the thunder. Rain fell from a lake that the great bird carried on his back. The lightening came from his eyes as he blinked, or, lightening bolts were shot to the earth from a mighty bow he fashioned with his wings. The thunderclap came from the beating of his great wings. The rolling thunder was from the wings of the young Thunderbirds. The Sioux believed that where lightening bolts struck the ground, medicine stones were formed. These stones were thought to have great magic and were highly valued by the Medicine Men of the Tribes.