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Why The Blackbird Has Red Wings

This version of the legend comes from Katherine Judson's 1914 collection Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.

One day an Indian became so angry with everyone that he set the sea marshes on fire because he wanted to burn up the world.

A little blackbird saw it. He flew up into a tree and shouted Ku nam wi cu! Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

The man said "If you do not go away, I will kill you." But the bird only kept shouting "Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

Then the Indian threw a shell and hit the little bird on the wings, making them bleed. That is how the red-winged blackbird came by its red wings.

Now when people saw the marshes burning, they quickly ran down and killed game which had been driven from it by the fire. Then they said to the angry man, "Because you put fire in those tall weeds, the deer and bear and other animals have been driven out and we have killed them. You have aided us by burning them."

Nowadays when the red-winged blackbird comes around the house, he still shouts "Ku nam wi cu, so they say.

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More stories to read:

 American Indian bird legends
 Legends about fire

Learn more about:

 Chitimacha stories
 Chitimacha language
 Chitimacha tribe



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