After reading the Iroquois and Pima creation myths in the book, I have been very intrigued by the Native American beliefs of the creation of the earth. It seems that nearly every tribe has a different belief of how it happened, though some are very similar. The Huron tribe, originally from the St. Lawrence Valley, have a very similar belief of creation as the Iroquois, where the Cherokee tribe had a totally different view than the Pima. The Iroquois and the Huron myths are both in the Earth-Diver category. In this type of myth, animals swim deep to the bottom of the water and bring up dirt in their mouth, forming the earth.
Just like the Iroquois, in the Huron myth, a divine woman falls out the sky and is swept up just before hitting water by a hawk. The hawk then calls down in the water for help, for she is too heavy for it to hold by itself. First, a turtle comes out the sea for her to sit on, and then he instructs other animals such as ducks, beavers, and even a muskrat. After the earth is built, the woman gives birth to twins, but soon dies after giving birth to her two sons. The sons in both myths represent good and evil on earth. They were to prepare the earth so that humans could live on it, but they found out that they could not live together.
So, they separated, with each one taking their own portion of the earth to prepare. Once older, the good son creates a sun and moon out of the remains of its mother’s body. It continues to create the world, forming vegetation and other useful tools to help humans survive. Meanwhile, the evil brother made outrageous animals, violent and disturbing. He made wolves, bears, venomous snakes, and panthers of giant size. He made massive mosquitos, the size of wild turkeys, and he made an enormous toad, it drank up the fresh water that was on the earth.
The good brother then had to kill the toad to bring water back to the land. In the end, the good brother defeated the evil brother in a fight, sending the evil brother’s soul to the center of the earth. Pima creation myth is similar to the Iroquois and Huron myths in that there are both animals that help build the earth, except in the Pima myth, they are land animals instead of sea animals. Also, there are two main characters that represent good and evil. The Cherokee creation myth starts as the world being completely covered in water and earth merely being an island floating bove the seas suspended by four rawhide ropes.
There were no people, and the animals lived above the rainbow. The animals sent the water beetle under the seas to search for more room, and it brought up mud that spread quickly, turning into land. Although at first the land was to soft and flat, Godfather buzzard went to check on the land and the wind from his wings created mountains and valleys, thus why the Cherokee territory has many mountains. As the new ground stiffened, the pulled the sun from behind the rainbow and raised it higher in the sky.
The next thing created was the plants, and view animals were given the privilege to see at night. People were created last, with the women being able to have babies every seven days, the Creator feared that the world would soon become crowed and made it so women could only have one child a year. The Native American creation stories of the Iroquois and Huron are almost identical where the Pima and Cherokee are completely opposite of each other. This goes to show just how different the beliefs of different Indian tribes are, and how this holds true to how there are different beliefs across the United States still today.
Courtney from Study Moose
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