The Screaming Eagle Story

The Screaming Eagle

We value Respect. We value Responsibility. We value Safety.

The rich history of the Chequamegon (Ojibway for Place of Shallow Water) School District’s Screaming Eagle, adopted in 2009 as our school mascot, began in 1861. The eagle that became the famous mascot “Old Abe,” during the civil war, and later the Nation's most famous military insignia for the Army’s 101st airborne division, came to be from the humble actions of one man named Ahgamahwegezhig — or Chief Sky — to feed his people.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram published an interview with Chief Sky on March 27, 1914. Chief Sky recollected felling a giant pine tree along the Price and Ashland county lines near the Flambeau River to capture the eaglets nesting in it. Chief Sky, the son of Chief Thunder-of-Bees, was collecting items for trading in order to provide for his family’s needs. Felling the tree was hard work that helped to ensure the respect, responsibility, and safety of his family.

Chief Sky traveled to Jim Falls, Wisconsin, following a river route down the Flambeau and a brief stretch of the Chippewa, where he traded the eaglet to Daniel McCann for a bushel of corn. McCann then sold the eaglet to Captain John E. Perkins of the “Eau Claire Badger Unit” for $2.50. The troops were assembling in Eau Claire to fight in the Civil War. The unit name was then changed to the “Eau Claire Eagle Unit.” It was later, in Madison, that the name “Old Abe” was given to Perkin’s eagle, out of respect for President Abraham Lincoln.  

Old Abe traveled to the Civil War perched atop a shield. The Wisconsin Historical Society website states that “[The eagle] became an inspirational symbol to the troops rather like the ceremonial flag carried by each regiment. Col. Rufus Dawes of the Iron Brigade recalled, ‘Our eagle usually accompanied us on the bloody field, and I heard [Confederate] prisoners say they would have given more to capture the eagle of the Eighth Wisconsin than to take a whole brigade of men.’”

Not only did Old Abe inspire the Eagle Unit, a part of the Iron Brigade, S.C. Miles recalls his call also gave the men the meddle to forge on in the terrible conditions of war. In a collection of regimental histories also published by the Wisconsin Historical Society, “His powerful voice rings out in its most resonant tone above the rebel yell and din of battle, and we plunge into the miry swamp...”

JS Dietz adds more to the story of the scream: “During a battle the appearance of Old Abe was perfectly magnificent; to be seen in all of his glory was when the battle commenced. He would spring up, spread his wings, uttering a startling scream, heard and felt, and gloried in by all of the soldiers. The fiercer and louder the storm, the fiercer and louder were his screams.”

The Chequamegon School District values the drive and successes of those that were here before us and strives to achieve the same Screaming Eagle success with Respect, Responsibility, and Safety as our rally cry.

Content from Wisconsin historical websites and military historical websites.

Ahgamahwegezhig (Chief Sky), Indian captor of "Old Abe,” Wisconsin's war eagle.

From the copy owned by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin Visual Archives: Album 17.13


Pictures of old Abe

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