The Blood Eagles are a strong, traditionalist tribe from the Lemhi region of Idaho. They follow their ethnic religion, which stresses a connection between the people and the land. While ethnically identical to the Lemhite Nation, the Blood Eagles reject their former brothers because they abadoned their land and faith.
The Blood Eagles were the first tribe to emerge in Lemhi after the Great War, and have historically dominated the region. Like the other tribes of Lemhi, they were descended from isolated rural communities that took shelter is small home bunkers. The Blood Eagles dominated the other tribes through threat of force, and established a suzerainty over the entire Lemhi region. They occasionally raided outside the Lemhi region, but mostly sustained themselves with farming, and by exacting tribute of food, weapons, and slaves.
The Blood Eagles were very wary of outsiders. When John Kite arrived in Lemhi and began preaching his faith among their tributaries, the Blood Eagles violently persecuted him. The ghoul was arrested and tortured in an attempt to force him to recognize the legitimacy of the Blood Eagle traditional religion. However, this sparked such an outcry from his tributaries that the Blood Eagles had no choice but to release him. They attempted to asassinate him twice after that, but failed both times. Ultimately, their persecutions only bolstered his power and influence amongst the Lemhite tribes.
This conflict with the preacher would soon be forgotten. The displaced Black Husk tribe migrated into the Lemhi region. While the Black Husks were bloodied from their defeat by the Burned Hands, their warriors were more experienced, better armed, and numerous. Their initial attack destroyed an entire Lemhite tribe. The Blood Eagles rallied a defense and met the Black Husks in a massive battle. Despite heavily outnumbering the Black Husk warriors the Blood Eagles and their allies suffered a devestating defeat. The Blood Eagles were forced to retreat to their power base in Nicholia, leaving their tributaries to be exterminated one by one. A great number of tribesmen followed John Kite and migrated south into exile. The tribesmen that remained were either destroyed by the Black Husks or absorbed into the Blood Eagles.
With the Lemhites largely cleansed from the region, the Black Husks settled the vacant territory. After losing their homeland to the Burned Hands they were finally able to sow and till the earth again. During this time the Blood Eagles licked their wounds and watched warily as the Black Husks dug in. Some Blood Eagles thought it was time to make a peace between the two tribes, but the shamans intervened and executed the dissenters. Every Blood Eagle man, woman, and child was forced to participate in a blood bonding ritual and swear eternal vengeance against the Black Husks.
The Blood Eagles launched the War of Vengeance a decade after the Extermination of Lemhi. Since then the Black Husks and Blood Eagles have been locked in endless tribal war.
Religion and Culture
The Blood Eagles have always been a culture that values strength. Their chieftains and shamans also double as hunters and warriors. Honor, both personal and tribal, is held in the utmost importance. Blood Eagle men are known to duel for honor, although such duels are usually until submission rather than death. The Blood Eagles hold the eagle as their totem animal, and honor it in their sacrifices. Eagle feathers are highly valued, but harming an eagle is taboo. When a Blood Eagle dies they are given a sky burial, where their corpse is laid out for scavenger birds and beast to eat. The bones are then entombed in a great cave, mixed in with the great piles of the bones of the ancestors.
Blood eagles believed that they are descendants of Kanuo, the Eagle-Man. The Great Fire singed the feathers from his people, and condemned them to walk the Earth for eternity. The Blood Eagles hold their ancestral homeland sacred because they believe it was he only place that gave Kanuo shelter after being condemned to the Earth. They believe that when they die their spirit grows wings and returns to Kanuo in the Eternal Sky. Scholars theorize that the Blood Eagles may have been survivors of a plane crash and that Kanuo was a pilot, but such ideas are merely speculation.
Significance of Blood
Blood is considered a sacred substance to the tribe, a sacred connection to the Spirit World and the ancestors. To be ritually drained of blood in the sight of the spirits is considered the greatest humiliation, and is a tool of shame and control the shamans use to censure those who go against them. To be completely drained of blood is the ultimate curse, as it means the ancestors will not recognize the victim in the afterlife.
Blood Eagles consider foreigners unclean because they have "no ancestors," meaning they have no blood connection to the Blood Eagle's mythic founder. Outsiders are viewed as subhuman orphans because of this. Blood Eagles avoid physical contact with outsiders unless it is absolutely necessary, and will not share food or drink with them.
Foreign slaves and concubines raise a conundrum to this line of thought. To reconcile unclean outsiders slaving away in close proximity to the tribe the shamans have developed purification rituals. A slaves blood is ritually drawn and mixed with a drop of the master's blood, and then is splattered on an eagle totem. It is said that if the blood is unworthy the totem with burst into flame. If there is no fire it means that the master's blood has overcome the slave's corruption and purified them to labor for the tribe.
The Blood Eagles are xenophobic, rarely making contact with outsiders for any reason other than to raid them or shake them down. Still there are some outsiders they have developed particular relationships with. the Asherite Clans have historically been the closest trading partner of the Blood Eagles Clan, and even after they adopted Lemhite religion they still interact with the Blood Eagles regularly. The Blood Eagles view the Lemhites as race traitors and apostates.
Half Men Caste
Half-Men are boys who failed their initiation ritual. They are not permitted to marry within the tribe and may only take a concubine with the chief's express permission. They must travel outside Blood Eagle territory as traders and must return with gifts for the chieftain to earn their way back into the tribe. Whether or not the gift is enough is up to arbitrary judgement of the chief. Some men have been kept as Half-Men for decades either because they have angered the chief or are simply too valuable as traders.
Half-Men are a relatively common sight amongst the Yellowstone Nations. While they are outcasts from their tribe they also have far more freedom than any other Blood Eagle. They are only bound to the tribe by tenuous bonds of honor and many have never returned to their tribe.