Wakinyan Tanka (Thunderbird)

One of the enduring traditions of Native American and later settlers (up until the present day) is the myth or Supernatural sightings of the Thunderbird. (Wakinyan Tanka in the Lakota tradition of Southern Minnesota and South Dakota.) In Native American stories and culture, this was seen as a Spiritual being with great powers and wrath. It was to be feared and respected. There is even a story from Devil’s Lake, WI near Baraboo of the Thunderbirds winning a battle for supremacy of that area over lake monsters!

Sightings in modern times often involve giant birds or Pterosaurs (flying dinosaurs) with 20 or 30 ft. wingspans. In the late 1960’s there was even a report of a Thunderbird trying to carry off a 5-year-old boy in Ohio.

These legends are also prevalent among the tribes of Minnesota. Sometime in the early 1980’s a friend and artist whom I was lucky enough to interview told me of a Thunderbird sighting she had as a girl at her parent’s cabin north of Hibbing.

Wakinyan Tanka is a quaddryptch (4-panels) 136 inches wide by 60 inches tall.