Story 1

Photograph of Hurricane Lane from the International Space Station in 2018. Source: Website.

The Storm God Who Saved The Birds

I come to you to tell this story as a survivor of the days before we birds had the barrier islands of refuge. My name is Big Beak and I have resided on the coast of Texas my whole life. When I was younger, my species were forced to build our homes along the same land as the Indians of the north, who were a vicious people that ripped the native people living there away from their homes and tormented us birds. They enjoyed drawing up their bows and arrows any time one of us left our nest, and on the worst days, they would kill one of us by striking an arrow through the unfortunate body of whoever decided to take flight at the time. This went on for so long, until suddenly the situation got worse when the Indians started showing up to our nests, snatching us up out of our homes, and robbing us of whatever we had there.

Now as you may know, all beings in this land are frightened by the great thunder bird, Hurakan, who travels alongside our Storm God. At his arrival, great clouds take over the land to block out the sun, strong winds travel along the ground to destroy whatever they touch, and rain falls upon the land nearly long enough for us to forget was being dry is like. Upon Hurakan's back you will find our Storm God dressed in a robe made from our very own feathers picked up along his thunder bird's path of destruction. Although Hurakan frightened us, we had no choice but to shout for help against the Indians to our Storm God, who lives beneath the warm waters of the ocean.

When the Storm God heard our pleas, he was enraged that the Indians would do such a thing to us native birds. He rose out of the ocean atop his thunder bird's back and arrived at the coast so quickly that the Indians could not take shelter from him. The clouds built up so high and thick that the the day seemed to become night, the winds howled through the land as they escaped the surface of the sea, and the warm gulf waters rose above the land creating another sea over the prairies. This sent us birds flying away from the nightmare while the Indians there lost everything they owned. After three days, the Storm God finally retreated back out to sea along with the tide covering the coast. As the waters settled, mud and sand ripped from the prairie started to build up farther out than the original coast line, creating the barrier islands we call home today.

Now whenever the Storm God comes back, he can find us native birds and take our feathers to place them on his glorious robe that he wears. Hurakan will still bring his ferocious winds, clouds, and rains, but us birds know that we will be safe on our islands as he passes through while we thank the Storm God for placing us in our island homes away from the Indians who treated us so poorly.

Author's Note: This story retelling was inspired by When the Storm God Rides written by Florence Stratton. It is an origin story describing the creation of the Texas barrier islands along the Texas coast in the Gulf of Mexico, and it follows the same storyline as above, only it is told from a third person point-of-view rather than from a bird's point-of-view. This story also describes the driving force behind what we now call a hurricane, which the author states is a Storm God's thunder bird called Hurakan. This part of the story especially intrigued me since I am a meteorology major and am fairly familiar with hurricane formation and processes. I enjoyed how Native Americans attributed the natural phenomenon to storm gods and thunder birds, yet still described them exactly how they are today. Rather than attributing the large, rising clouds and continuous, gusting winds to a storm, they attributed them to the arrival of a bird who only brought storms about. They also attributed the duration of the hurricane to a Storm God rather than to atmospheric drivers which forced it into or out of the area, which was so fun to learn and write about!