LAKOTA CREATION MYTH
A long time ago, a really long time when the world was still freshly made, Unktehi the
water monster fought the people and caused a great flood. Perhaps the Great Spirit,
Wakan Tanka, was angry with us for some reason. Maybe he let Unktehi win out because
he wanted to make a better kind of human being.
Well, the waters got higher and higher. Finally everything was flooded except the hill
next to the place where the sacred red pipestone quarry lies today. The people climbed up
there to save themselves, but it was no use. The water swept over that hill. Waves
tumbled the rocks and pinnacles, smashing them down on the people. Everyone was
killed, and all the blood jelled, making one big pool.
The blood turned to pipestone and created the pipestone quarry, the grave of those
ancient ones. That's why the pipe, made of that red rock, is so sacred to us. Its red bowl is
the flesh and blood of our ancestors, its stem is the backbone of those people long dead,
the smoke rising from it is their breath. I tell you, that pipe, that *chanunpa*, comes alive
when used in a ceremony; you can feel power flowing from it.
Unktehi, the big water monster, was also turned to stone. Maybe Tunkshila, the
Grandfather Spirit, punished her for making the flood. Her bones are in the Badlands
now. Her back forms a long high ridge, and you can see her vertebrae sticking out in a
great row of red and yellow rocks. I have seen them. It scared me when I was on that
ridge, for I felt Unktehi. She was moving beneath me, wanting to topple me.
Well, when all the people were killed so many generations ago, one girl survived, a
beautiful girl. It happened this way: When the water swept over the hill where they tried
to seek refuge, a big spotted eagle, Wanblee Galeshka, swept down and let her grab hold
of his feet. With her hanging on, he flew to the top of a tall tree which stood on the
highest stone pinnacle in the Black Hills. That was the eagle's home. It became the only
spot not covered with water.
If the people had gotten up there, they would have survived, but it was a needle-like rock
as smooth and steep as the skyscrapers you got now in the big cities. My grandfather told
me that maybe the rock was not in the Black Hills; maybe it was the Devil's Tower, as
white men call it , that place in Wyoming.
Both places are sacred. Wanblee kept that beautiful girl with him and made her his wife.
There was a closer connection then between people and animals, so he could do it. The
eagle's wife became pregnant and bore him twins, a boy and a girl. She was happy, and
"Now we will have people again. *Washtay*, it is good."
The children were born right there, on top of that cliff. When the waters finally subsided,
Wanblee helped the children and their mother down from his rock and put them on the
earth, telling them: Be a nation, become a great Nation – the Lakota Oyate."
The boy and girl grew up. He was the only man on earth, she the only woman of child-
bearing age. They married; they had children. A nation was born.
So we are descended from the eagle. We are an eagle nation. That is good, something to
be proud of, because the eagle is the wisest of birds. He is the Great Spirit's messenger;
he is a great warrior. That is why we always wore the eagle plume, and still wear it. We
are a great nation.
It is I, Lame Deer, who said this.
An Aborigine Creation Story
This is the story of Dreamtime. It comes from the Aborigines of Australia.
When the earth was new-born, it was plain and without any features or life. Waking time
and sleeping time were the same. There were only hollows on the surface of the Earth
which, one day, would become waterholes. Around the waterholes were the ingredients
Underneath the crust of the earth were the stars and the sky, the sun and the moon, as
well as all the forms of life, all sleeping. The tiniest details of life were present yet
dormant: the head feathers of a cockatoo, the thump of a kangaroo's tail, the gleam of an
A time came when time itself split apart, and sleeping time separated from waking time.
This moment was called the Dreamtime. At this moment everything started to burst into
The sun rose through the surface of the Earth and shone warm rays onto the hollows
which became waterholes. Under each waterhole lay an Ancestor, an ancient man or
woman who had been asleep through the ages. The sun filled the bodies of each Ancestor
with light and life, and the Ancestors began to give birth to children. Their children were
all the living things of the world, from the tiniest grub wriggling on a eucalyptus leaf to
the broadest-singed eagle soaring in the blue sky.
Rising from the waterholes, the Ancestors stood up with mud falling from their bodies.
As the mud slipped away, the sun opened their eyelids and they saw the creatures they
had made from their own bodies. Each Ancestor gazed at his creation in pride and
wonderment. Each Ancestor sang out with joy: "I am!". One Ancestor sang "I am
kangaroo!" Another sang "I am Cockatoo!" The next sang "I am Honey-Ant!" and the
next sang "I am Lizard!"
As they sang, naming their own creations, they began to walk. Their footsteps and their
music became one, calling all living things into being and weaving them into life with
song. The ancestors sang their way all around the world. They sang the rivers to the
valleys and the sand into dunes, the trees into leaf and the mountains to rise above the
plain. As they walked they left a trail of music.
Then they were exhausted. They had shown all living things how to live, and they
returned into the Earth itself to sleep. And, in honour of their Ancestors, the Aborigines
still go Walkabout, retracing the steps and singing the songs that tell the story of life.
African Tribe of Ainu (a-new) Creation story
In the beginning, the world was nothing but a quagmire. Nothing could live there. But in
the six skies above and in the six worlds below dwelled Gods, demons, and animals.
In the foggy and hanging skies of the lower heavens, demons lived. In the star-bearing
and high skies of the clouds lived the lesser Gods. In the skies of the most high lived
Kamui, the creator God, and his servants. His realm was surrounded by a mighty metal
wall and the only entrance was through a great iron gate.
Kamui made this world as a vast round ocean resting on the backbone of an enormous
trout. This fish sucks in the ocean and spits it out again to make the tides; when it moves
it causes earthquakes.
One day Kamui looked down on the watery world and decided to make something of it.
He sent down a water wagtail to do the work. When the poor bird arrived and saw what a
mess everything was in, it was at its wit's end to know what to do. However, by fluttering
over the waters with its wings and by trampling the sand with its feet and beating it with
its tail, the wagtail at last created patches of dry land. In this way islands were raised to
float upon the ocean in this, the floating world. Even today, the faithful wagtail is still
carrying on its work, still beating the ground with its tail.
When Kamui created the world, the devil tried to thwart him. One morning, the devil got
up and lay in wait with his mouth gaping wide to swallow the sun. But Kamui sent a
crow to fly down the devil's throat and make him choke and cough. That is why the crow
is such a bold bird. Because a crow once saved the world, all crows think they can act as
they like, even stealing people's food.
When the animals who lived up in the heavens saw how beautiful the world was, they
begged Kamui to let them go and live on it, and he did. But Kamui also made many other
creatures especially for the world. The first people, the Ainu, had bodies of earth, hair of
chickweed, and spines made from sticks of willow. That is why when we grow old, our
backs become bent.
Kamui sent Aioina, the divine man, down from heaven to teach the Ainu how to hunt and
to cook. When Aioina returned to heaven after living among the people and teaching
them many things, the Gods all held their noses, crying, "What a terrible smell of human
being there is!"
They sniffed and sniffed to find out where the stink was coming from. At last they traced
the smell to Aioina's clothes. The Gods sent him back to earth and refused to let him back
into heaven until he left all his clothes behind. Down in the floating world, Aioina's cast-
off sandals turned into the first squirrels.
Norse Creation Myth-Odin and Ymir
In the beginning of time, there was nothing: neither sand, nor sea, nor cool waves.
Neither the heaven nor earth existed. Instead, long before the earth was made, Niflheim
was made, and in it a spring gave rise to twelve rivers. To the south was Muspell, a
region of heat and brightness guarded by Surt, a giant who carried a flaming sword. To
the north was frigid Ginnungagap, where the rivers froze and all was ice. Where the
sparks and warm winds of Muspell reached the south side of frigid Ginnungagap, the ice
thawed and dripped, and from the drips thickened and formed the shape of a man. His
name was Ymir, the first of and ancestor of the frost-giants.
As the ice dripped more, it formed a cow, and from her teats flowed four rivers of
milk that fed Ymir. The cow fed on the salt of the rime ice, and as she licked a man's
head began to emerge. By the end of the third day of her licking, the whole man had
emerged, and his name was Buri. He had a son named Bor, who married Bestla, a
daughter of one of the giants. Bor and Bestla had three sons, one of whom was Odin, the
most powerful of the gods.
Ymir was a frost-giant, but not a god, and eventually he turned to evil. After a
struggle between the giant and the young gods, Bor's three sons killed Ymir. So much
blood flowed from his wounds that all the frost-giants were drowned but one, who
survived only by builiding an ark for himself and his familly. Bor's sons dragged Ymir's
immense body to the center of Ginnungagap, and from him they made the earth. Ymir's
blood became the sea, his bones became the rocks and crags, and his hair became the
trees. Bor's sons took Ymir's skull and with it made the sky. In it they fixed sparks and
molten slag from Muspell to make the stars, and other sparks they set to move in paths
just below the sky. They threw Ymir's brains into the sky and made the clouds. The earth
is a disk, and they set up Ymir's eyelashes to keep the giants at the edges of that disk.
On the sea shore, Bor's sons found two logs and made people out of them. One son
gave them breath and life, the second son gave them consciousness and movement, and
the third gave them faces, speech, hearing, and sight. From this man and woman came all
humans thereafter, just as all the gods were descended from the sons of Bor.
Odin and his brothers had set up the sky and stars, but otherwise they left the heavens
unlit. Long afterwards, one of the descendants of those first two people that the brothers
created had two children. Those two children were so beautiful that their father named
the son Moon and the daughter Sol. The gods were jealous already and, when they heard
of the father's arrogance, they pulled the brother and sister up to the sky and set them to
work. Sol drives the chariot that carries the sun across the skies, and she drives so fast
across the skies of the northland because she is chased by a giant wolf each day. Moon
likewise takes a course across the sky each night, but not so swiftly because he is not so
The gods did leave one pathway from earth to heaven. That is the bridge that appears
in the sky as a rainbow, and its perfect arc and brilliant colors are a sign of its origin with
the gods. It nonetheless will not last for ever, because it will break when the men of
Muspell try to cross it into heaven.