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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Wiske And The Buzzard
by HOWNIKAN - Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Long ago, the Buzzard was a pretty bird. It felt itself to be superior to all other members of the feathered class, and Wiske was jealous of it. The Buzzard, on its part, would not even look at Wiske, much less talk to him. This made Wiske angrier than ever.

At length, Wiske found a dead deer, and collected some dead moose and other animals, and piled them where he hoped the
buzzard would find them and eat so much that he could not fly. So many crows, ravens and other birds flocked to the place that Wiske could not drive them away, but still the Buzzard would not come.

This made Wiske angrier still. He found another moose and put it out, but again only ravens came to feast on it. He found still another moose that was drowned. This time the Buzzard came, but the ravens drove it away.

Then Wiske transformed himself into a dead elk, and drove off the swarming ravens with clubs. The ravens sat on the trees and warned everyone that approached that the dead elk was really Wiske. The Buzzard heard their warning, but did not believe their story, because the elk smelled so badly.

At last, the Buzzard came up to the carcass and bit at its rump and found it tender. It saw some delicious looking fat inside, and finally thrust its head and neck in to reach it.

Wiske closed the opening and sprang up with the Buzzard trapped inside.

“There!” he said. “I knew that I would catch this pretty bird some day.”

Wiske went everywhere and showed all the people the helpless Buzzard caught by the head.

The birds, having talked it over, told Wiske that they thought it was not fair, and they offered to take Wiske away up above the clouds if he would free their brother. Wiske then loosened the Buzzard, who volunteered to carry him aloft on his back.

Wiske straddled his neck, and the Buzzard took him high up on top of a mountain. He made Wiske dismount and told him that the birds would return for him later. But they never did, and Wiske was left in a place from which he could not escape.

Wiske asked a passing eagle to help by bringing him a very big stick. When the eagle brought it, Wiske slew the bird with it.

Stretching its wings over the stick, he jumped down, holding the middle of the pole and relying on the wings to act as a parachute and let him down gently. He landed in a hollow tree which he fell down, and was caught again.

Some Indians who were hunting saw their dogs barking at the tree where Wiske was caught.

The Indians supposed that they had found a bear, but when they chopped a hole in the tree, out stepped Wiske, who told them how he had become trapped.

“I want to reward you for saving me,” said Wiske to the Indians. ”Here are some pretty feathers to put in your sacred bundle. Just do not call them Buzzard feathers! From now on they are changed.”

The hunters told their people that the plumes were called ‘Chief bird feathers,’ and the story how they had rescued
Wiske from the tree and received the feathers as a reward.

Wiske held the Buzzard inside his body for so long that the feathers wore off the creature’s head and it became foul smelling. In this way, Wiske had his revenge on the bird. The buzzard has ever since been obliged to live in the south to protect his bald head from the cold. Wiske claimed that he had more power over birds than the Great Spirit. The downfall of the bird was only due to its own arrogance.

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