Bishinik the Woodpecker
According to Choctaw legend, when the "returning waters"
(that is the
Choctaw term for the Great Flood) came, two birds, Bishinik (a small,
speckled yellow billed, scissor tail species of Woodpecker), and olichik
(the scissor tail fly catcher), were the only two birds to escape
drowning by flying as high as they could and perching upside-down
upon the sky. As it was, the waters came so high that the birds' tails
hung down where the dashing waters caused their tail feathers to separate,
thus making them split, or scissor tail.
Because of their bravery, creator blessed the two birds, and because
Bishinik was grateful for this blessing, Creator decreed that Bishinik
would always be a special friend to his people, the Choctaw. To the
Choctaw, Bishinik was the friendliest of birds, was accorded special
treatment, and became known as "the little Chahta news bird.”
Bishinik would live around Choctaw homes and let them know whenever
someone was approaching. The friendly little woodpecker was also believed
to accompany hunting parties or war parties when they went into the
field. Bishinik would warn the warriors of the approach of an enemy,
or would indicate to them when game was near and in which direction
they should travel to find this game. Should an enemy force approach
an encampment of Choctaw Warriors during the hours of darkness, Bishinik
would warn them by tapping out messages on trees about the camp. Bishinik
is honored to this day, as the tribal newspaper bears his name!