Many indigenous peoples and tribes have beliefs and practices that form the core of their culture and lifestyle. For the Navajo tribe, the image of the Thunderbird, a powerful and mighty supernatural creature with immeasurable strength is among the most worshipped images in the group. The Thunderbird can be found depicted in many of their ornaments and clothes, and is given high respect because of its power of the land.
More about the Navajo Thunderbird
There are different interpretations of the function and role of the Thunderbird, but three of these stand out among the rest.
The first is that the Thunderbird is a symbol of impending war. When the Thunderbird flaps its wings, it creates the sound of thunder and starts to shoot lightning from its eyes. When the Navajo tribes catch notice of this gesture, they are quick to prepare in case of any raids and attacks from neighboring clans and colonizers.
Another belief is that the Thunderbird is a peace-keeping being whose eyes are made from the sun. As the Thunderbird wakes, it causes the sun to rise and the opposite happens at night when the Thunderbird goes to sleep. It is this pattern of wakefulness and sleep that cause the phenomenon of night and day.
Finally, some believe that the Thunderbird is the dominating force that controls all natural occurrences. Many believe that the Thunderbird is the Creator, Destroyer, and Controller of all nature, and it is because of this immense power that people need to strive in order to satisfy it. Many members of the Navajo tribe try to appease the Thunderbird with offerings, ceremonies, and songs. This is because the Thunderbird is also seen as the great rain bringer who dictates when rains will fall. If a tribe fails to appease the bird, they may not experience enough rain to keep their crops alive.
The Navajo Thunderbird in Our World Today
Many Navajo elders and those with Navajo decent still honor the Thunderbird as the ultimate force on earth, but gestures for the Thunderbird are no longer as elaborate as they were before. These days, it’s common to find ornaments, décor, and even apparel that feature the image of a Thunderbird. These are used to pay homage to the great supernatural creature and serve as a reminder to contemporary Navajo tribe members that their life on this earth is dictated by this ever powerful supernatural being.