Native Americans and Creation - Longwood University
Native Americans and Creation Rachel Pegelow Anthropology 205 Beginning First people came from Asia across the land bridge, Beringia, approximately 20,000 years ago By 8,000 BC there were Native American people all across the Americas When the people separated across the land, the groups formed significant cultures with unique beliefs. Overview
Focus on North America 5 Regions, 10 groups of people Artic: Inuit Woodland/Southeast: Cherokee, Choctaw, Iroquois Plains: Blackfoot, Cheyenne Southwest: Apache, Sioux
Northwest: Chinook, Yokut For each summarize creation story then comment on the interesting/significant details of each Inuit Creation Story Raven man with a ravens beak Stabbed the earth into place A house was on the land occupied by Raven and his mother and father
Ravens father gave him a bladder to play with Raven damaged bladder and light appeared Father took away bladder this is how night and day started. Inuit Story Significance Raven is found in many Inuit stories Children are not usually involved with the creation of the world
Inuits believe animal bladders hold the spirits of hunted game animals. Inuits would return the bladders back into the earth so the animal could return in a new form. This bladder released light which created day. Cherokee Creation Story He animals lived in Galunlati before the earth was formed Beaver dived below the water and brought mud to the surface. The land expanded to form the earth
Buzzard was sent out to dry the earth. Mountains and valleys formed where he flapped his wings. He stopped before the whole earth was mountains. Animals and plants tried to stay awake for seven nights, those who succeeded became nocturnal. The first people were a brother and sister. She had a child every seven days. Now we only have one per year. Cherokee Story Significance Explains: Why there are mountains
Explains: Nocturnal animals and evergreen trees Explains: Women have one child per year Importance of the number 7 Choctaw Creation Story Two brothers Chata and Chicksah Led people from the west Used poles stuck in ground to lead them in the right direction. The poles would lean a certain direction.
Stopped traveling where poles finally stood upright Buried ancestors bones in burial mound at this site Chicksah took of group north Chata and rest of group stayed and formed the Choctaw tribe Choctaw Story Significance Poles would lean on mountains.
Poles would have stayed upright in Mississippi area. Mound builders Iroquois Creation Story Originally people lived in the sky A big tree uprooted and created a hole that a pregnant woman fell through She landed on a flock of waterfowl who placed her on a turtles back
Animals placed pieces of earth on the back of the turtle, it continued to grow, forming Turtle Island Woman gave birth to a daughter A spirit then caused the daughter to give birth to twins, one child created beauty, while the other created mischief Twins fought, the good twin won and formed the first human figure from the earth and gave it life. Iroquois Story Significance Iroquois society valued women. Equal status with men.
Without the woman, her son would not have created the first people Turtle is commonly found throughout Native American myths Good vs Evil Iroquois view people as innately good rather than evil Blackfoot Creation Story Old Man came from the South making prairies, mountains and forests and animals along the way
He put red paint in places still around today, rocks mark where he rested One day he tripped on a knoll and named the place knees He covered the earth in grasses, roots and berries for the animals. He made big horn sheep and the gazelle He made a woman and child out of clay in four days. This is how the first people came to be Blackfoot Creation Story Continued Old Man taught the people how to collect food, which animals they should eat and how to hunt
He taught them about medicine and how to make weapons. He told them black flint stones make the best arrow heads. He showed the people fire to cook their food He also taught them how spirit power works Old Man continued north to the Porcupine Mountains making more clay figures into humans He taught them to hunt buffalo
Old Man was pleased with what he created, he left the Blackfoot people a long time ago, but promised to return one day. Blackfoot Story Significance Personal relationship between Old Man and the people Environmental markers Old Man taught them about arrows Spirit powers are common in Native American myths, but not mentioned in any other creation stories
Cheyenne Creation Story Maheo created the water, then birds and sea animals. Birds needed a place to rest so the small coot dove under the water to get a piece of earth Maheo made the earth expand and placed it on Grandmother Turtles back Maheo made flowers, trees, grasses, and fruits. Maheo used his own rib to make the first man. He then used the first mans rib to create the first woman. They had many children.
Maheo created animals for the people. Cheyenne Story Significance Turtle commonly used in Native American stories. This is why turtles walk slowly today, because they carry the weight of the world. Resemblance to Christianity Apache Creation Story Creator rubbed his face and light appeared, then he rubbed his
sweating face again and Girl-Without-Parents appeared. Creator made the Sun God by singing four times. He rubbed his sweating brow and Small Boy appeared. He then created Tarantula, Big Dipper, Wind, Lighting-Maker and Lightning Rumbler. The Gods held sweaty hands and sang four times forming the earth. Creator then sang four times and 28 people appeared to make the sky. He found two girls and one boy. They were placed in a sweathouse and
they formed eyes, ears, noses, mouths and hair. They are known as Sky-Boy, Earth Daughter and Pollen Girl. Apache Story Continued Sky Boy was in charge of the Sky. Earth Daughter in charge of the earth and its crops. Pollen Girl in charge of the health of earth people. Creator made the animals, trees, and hills. A flood came, but the 28 people and all of the Gods found shelter. Creator made fire and left Girl-Without-Parents to be in charge of everything. The 28 people were sent out to populate the earth
Apache Story Significance Number four is used multiple times, showing a sacred quality. Actually called the magic number Sweat is mentioned in the story many times. A big flood Sioux Creation Story Water monster Unktehi caused a big flood, which killed everyone Their blood and water mixed together forming the pipestone that is sacred today
The quarry is the grave of the ancient people, the bowl of pipes is their flesh, the stem is their backbone and the smoke is their breath One girl survived because the eagle Wanblee Galeshka saved her. They had twins, which grew up to re-populate the earth. Sioux Story Significance Pipestone is sacred to the Sioux People are descendants of Wanblee the Eagle
In many myths eagles are connected to the creator, which is one reason why eagles are sacred and respected in the Native American culture. Chinook Creation Story Thunderbird, part man part spirit, laid his eggs on Saddle Mountain in Oregon An ogress rolled five of his eggs down the mountain Five men of different colors were born Each found women, in different stages of life, to be their wives
The chief plucked his wife from a rock, her imprints can be seen today This first group of people formed the Chinook tribe Chinook Story Significance Explain markings in environment Men of five different colors People are descendants from a person who was part spirit Yokut Creation Story
Everything was water except for the ground that Coyote and the eagle were on Sent turtle to dive for earth, but the earth was washed out Coyote found a grain of earth under his finger nail, which was used to make the earth as big as it is now Created six men and six women, sent in pairs in different directions The people were eating the earth , one side had already disappeared, so the dove was sent out, it found one grain of meal
The eagle and Coyote planted the meal and the earth was covered in fruits and seeds Yokut Story Significance Eagles and Turtles are common in creation myths Coyote is a common trickster archetype Usually earth is already made bountiful for the people before they are created May believe the earth was once bigger
Conclusion Creation stories of the Native American tribes across North America are all different, but share many similarities Many of the tribes use the creation myth to explain different natural land features or different animal behaviors. The environment, usually reflects the environment the people are living in today and they are using part of their creation story to explain why the environment is the way it is. Many of the creators have a personal connection to their creations and the people, which is not seen in all cultures around the world
Overall, the Native American Indian creation stories show a reverence for nature and animals.
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