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Thunderbirds - Supernatural Beings of Power

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The concept of supernatural beings of great power drove the imagination of Americans before Europeans ever arrived here. America remains fascinated with superpower beings, or superheroes and superheroines, stemming all the way back to Action Comics from the 1930s, and exploding today in the forms of blockbuster action flicks and the multivariate artifacts of their downstream marketing. But today we would like to highlight a creature so fantastic that it has captured the psyche of native cultures literally for centuries, and whose iconography and mythology today continues to reverberate through modern American culture.

What great mythological creature could manifest such lasting strength, such compelling wonder? This creature is none other than the Thunderbird, a majestic yet fearsome supernatural being that throws lightning and unleashes thunder upon its foes.

This mythic bird could also shapeshift into a man, eat serpents, or in different indigenous communities, engage in epic battles with whale creatures (think NHL’s Vancouver Canucks). The images we found help to tell the story of why this legend persisted in so many indigenous peoples’ culture across the land we now call America.

Thunderbirds carved in sandstone wall at Twin Bluff, Juneau County, Wisconsin, by prehistoric artist(s)
Thunderbirds carved in sandstone wall at Twin Bluff, Juneau County, Wisconsin, by prehistoric artist(s)
By Sixa369 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20076003
Thunderbird mask of the Kwakiutl Indians, shown with beak and wings open to reveal a human face, painted wood; in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.<br>Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, New York
Thunderbird mask of the Kwakiutl Indians, shown with beak and wings open to reveal a human face, painted wood; in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, New York
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, New York. Photo. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 31 Dec. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/thunderbird-mythological-bird?oasmId=92278>
Pouch, southeastern Ojibwa, with porcupine quills, from Boston Museum Collection - Native American collection - Peabody Museum, Harvard University - DSC05441.JPG
Pouch, southeastern Ojibwa, with porcupine quills, from Boston Museum Collection - Native American collection - Peabody Museum, Harvard University - DSC05441.JPG
By Daderot (Own work) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Copper Thunderbird artifacts
Copper Thunderbird artifacts
THE THUNDERBIRD MOTIF IN NORTHEASTERN INDIAN ART
Edward J. Lenik
Archaeology of Eastern North America
Vol. 40 (2012), pp. 163-185 Archaeology of Eastern North America © 2012 Eastern States Archeological Federation


So now we move to the seemingly inevitable apportioning of an NHL team to Seattle in the great region of Cascadia. What sort of Thunderbird iconography would best fire your imagination? Let’s get started here!

Road Unis
Road Unis
Green road unis
Green road unis
Seattle Tbirds Insignia
Seattle Tbirds Insignia

Evidence seems to indicate that everyone is frrrreeeking out about the fact that the Tbirds name is already in use. But I say everything has a price. Some here on this board agree with me:

Throbert’s Thunderbirds name usage comment
Throbert’s Thunderbirds name usage comment
Throbert

Even Roblox got into the mix:

Roblox Thunderbird Symbol
Roblox Thunderbird Symbol

And tattoo art!

Thunderbirds tattoo art!
Thunderbirds tattoo art!
green tbird tattoo
green tbird tattoo

And we can never forget these Thunderbirds, hailing with great success on the ice and off, from Detroit, MI:

Thunderbird hood ornament
Thunderbird hood ornament

Oh and for laughs, there’s this T shirt, totally unrelated, I swear:

hockey T
hockey T

Hey now, I’ve obviously left out all of the best Thunderbirds images on the web. How about you share your favorites in the comments below? If one is really well liked, we can move it up here into the main article.

Oh, and one challenge shall be issued hereforth: He or she that findeth the ultimate steampunk Thunderbird image shall be rewarded with likes and upvotes and retweets and stuff like that. I seriously looked, couldn’t find one. Y’all know what a steampunk freak I am.

OK I did find something kinda similar:

Thunderbird-man tattoo
Thunderbird-man tattoo

Look, I really suck at this photoshopping business, especially since I don’t have photoshop. But here a concept only - don’t kill me, man - for your consideration. Maybe someone with skills and tools could actually play with this and make something decent out of it:

Seattle Thunderbirds
Seattle Thunderbirds
I don’t have photoshop. Really.

Peace love and rock and roll, and remember to share your fave Thunderbirds pics in the comments below.