The Thunderbird is a widespread figure in Native American mythology, particularly among Midwestern, Plains, and Northwest Coast tribes.
Thunderbird is described an enormous bird (according to many Northwestern tribes, large enough to carry a killer whale in its talons
as an eagle carries a fish) who is responsible for the sound of thunder (and in some cases lightning as well.)
Different Native American communities had different traditions regarding the Thunderbird.
In some tribes, Thunderbirds are considered extremely sacred forces of nature, while in others, they are treated like
powerful but otherwise ordinary members of the animal kingdom. In Gros Ventre tradition, it was Thunderbird (Bha'a) who
gave the sacred pipe to the people. Some Plains tribes associated thunderbirds with
the summer season (in Arapaho mythology, Thunderbird was the opposing force to White Owl, who
Thunderbirds are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Thunderbird Clans
include the Kwakiutl and Ho-Chunk tribes. On the Northwest Coast, the thunderbird is often used as a totem pole crest.