The Piasa Bird is a local legend in the river bend area of Illinois. The first record of the beast dates back to 1673. Father Jacques Marquette, while recording his journey down the Mississippi River with Louis Joliet. Described the "Piasa" as a birdlike monster painted high on the bluffs along the Mississippi River, where the city of Alton, Illinois now stands.
According to the journey log, the Piasa "was as large as a cow with horns like a deer, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face like a man. The body was covered with green, red and black scales and a tail so long it passed around the body, over the head, and between the legs."
The creature was given its name by the Illini Indians, "The Piasa", meaning a bird that devours men.
There are many legends regarding its origin. Somewhere the creature dies, others where the beast still stalks in caves. In this video I cover the more popular telling:
Many moons ago, there existed a birdlike creature of such great size, he could carry off a full-grown deer in his talons. His taste, however, was for human flesh. In fact, hundreds of warriors attempted to destroy the Piasa and failed. Whole villages were destroyed and fear spread throughout the Illini tribe.
At this time Ouatoga separated himself from his tribe, fasted in solitude for an entire moon and prayed to the Great Spirit to protect his people from the Piasa.
On the last night of his fast, the Great Spirit appeared to Ouatoga in a dream and directed him to select 20 warriors, arm them each with a bow and poisoned arrow, and conceal them in a specific location. An ill-fated warrior was to stand in an open view, as a victim of the Piasa.
When the chief awoke in the morning, he told the tribe of his dream. The warriors were quickly selected and gathered. Ouatoga offered himself as the victim. Placing himself in open view, he soon saw the Piasa perched on the bluff eyeing his prey. Ouatoga began to chant the death song of a warrior. The Piasa took to the air and swooped down upon the chief. The Piasa had just reached his victim when every bow was sprung and every arrow sent sailing into the body of the beast. The Piasa uttered a fearful scream that echoed down the river and died. Ouatoga was safe, and the tribe saved.
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