Written By Michael Reign on Thursday, August 29, 2013 | 11:39 PM

A legendary fixture in the annals of Native American lore and tradition, the thunderbird is recognized as a supernatural being of immense power and strength. The principal origins referencing its existence center around the belief that the enormous wingspan of this creature produces thunder and stirs the wind - oftentimes in advance of ominous weather systems. The Lakota christened this magical entity as Wakį́yą, from wakhą, meaning “sacred”, and kįyą, interpreted as “winged”. The Kwakiutl culture know this being as “Hohoq”, while the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) commonly refer to it as “Kw-Uhnx-Wa”. The Ojibwa refer to this great beast as animikii (A literal representation of thunder). Described as being more than two canoe-lengths in width, the appearance of this majestic creature synonymous with the manifestation of threatening weather patterns - cloud formations coalesce in menacing splendor, in tune with the beat of its massive wings, lightning emanating from within its spectral visage, released in passing glance in blanketing sheets of iridescence. Its massive talons clutching a glowing ensemble of serpentine appendages, their release in the form of bolts of electrical current, striking the Earth below without warning.
Its legend as a singular entity or specieal order hinges primarily on the traditions and philosophies of those cultures espousing belief in its existence. In each instance, the thunderbird is depicted as extremely intelligent, immensely powerful, and possessing of an almost palpable degree of wrathful intent. The singular thunderbird, as the Nootka believed, resided at the apex of mountainous regions, a humble servant to the Great Spirit who traversed the skies as an emissary to other entities comprising the infinite pantheons of the afterlife. The plural incarnation of this legendary beast capable of assuming human form, their feathery raiment visualized as a type of outer garment.

Perhaps the most celebrated tale referencing the existence of this avian behemoth is “Thunderbird and Whale”, the full context of its description attainable at the following link:

In a contemporary setting there are stories mentioning possible sightings, the most notable being an incident attributed to the state of Arizona in April of 1890. Purportedly two cowboys traveling by horseback managed to mortally wound a giant birdlike creature possessing an enormous wingspan. Described by witnesses as having smooth scale-like skin features, featherless wings similar to those of a large bat, and a face resembling that of an alligator. Interestingly enough, this visceral interpretation bears resemblance to the prehistoric pterodactyl. In a more recent setting, numerous sightings of a large bird the size of a Piper Cub aircraft have been attributed to the states of Washington, Utah, and Idaho - all of these observances documented in a ten year time span from the 1960s to the early 1970s. On several occasions these incidences were accompanied by large footprints throughout the surrounding area.
Various experts in the field of cryptozoology have postulated that the legends surrounding the appearance of this majestic creature are based on sightings that can be attributed to an actual member of the animal kingdom. Initially these findings were largely discredited by skeptics within the scientific community who believed that an animal of such immense size and shape would be incapable of achieving upward mobility, however, the existence of such a creature is not beyond the realm of possibility. The prehistoric vulture-like Teratornis incredibilis possessed a wingspan ranging 5 to 7 meters in length (16 to 24 feet), and is believed to have been capable of flight.
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