Folklore Friday: Mothman's Mythological Connection to the Thunderbird
An artifact that bears a startling resemblance to eyewitness descriptions of the Mothman has some people wondering if there could be a connection between Point Pleasant’s most famous monster and the mythological Thunderbird. The ‘thunderbird’ artifact in question is ten inches tall, made of copper steel, and attributed to the Pennacook tribe of Amoskeag Falls, Manchester, New Hampshire. The small statue depicts a strange winged creature with large eyes. The creature's eyes have been placed in its torso and are parallel to its wings, which is exactly how witnesses describe the placement of Mothman's features; although Mothman is missing the thunderbird statue's crest that protrudes above the torso.
Although much of New England’s indigenous Algonquian people’s beliefs have been lost, scholars believe that Thunderbird was an important figure in their culture. The Passamaquoddy tribe depicted Thunderbird as a large, winged man or bird, who was largely benevolent towards humanity. According to legend, Thunderbird was formed from a native man who had his bones restructured to give him wings, in order to aid in his quest to find the origin of thunder. In Dr. J. Walter Fewkes' The Origin of the Thunderbird, he wrote that the man "in time became the great and powerful Thunderbird, who always has kept a watchful eye upon the good Indians."
There are some that see Mothman as a sort of protector who shows up at the site of disasters as an omen of warning. Does humanity have a winged watcher who warns us of coming catastrophes, and has he been with us for so long that he's left an impression on the legends of ancient indigenous peoples? Or do these stories merely arise out of a common human need to find meaning in tragedy, and an attempt to make sense of the senseless?