Raven, the trickster, was responsible for creating the world. The world was covered with water, which pushed land up from the depths. Raven used his beak to stab at the new land, attaching it into place. This scrap of land was only large enough for one house, occupied by a man and his wife, along with their son Raven.
The father hung a bladder over his bed. Raven was fascinated, and begged to be allowed to play with it. Reluctantly, his father agreed. Predictably, Raven played roughly and tore the bladder, causing light to leak out. The father, not wanting light shining in his eyes, took the bladder away before more damage could be done. The struggle between Raven and his father is the cause of day and night.
In the beginning, earth did not exist. There was only water. In the Great Blue above, a woman dreamed. She lived in Sky World, a community of many beings.
One night, she was frightened by a dream about a tree, the tree that was the source of all their light. She told the men of her dreams, and begged them to pull the tree up. They dug around the tree roots, and the tree slipped through the hole and disappeared. They were left in darkness. Panicked, they pushed her through the hole, too. A fish hawk swooped under her, using his feathers to protect her from the watery abyss.
The fish hawk needed help, as the woman was getting very heavy. A bird dove deep to the bottom of the ocean, returning with some mud. He smeared the mud onto a turtle’s back, then dove down for more. Docs came and helped, spreading mud over the turtles shell. Beavers reinforced the building project and helped make it bigger. Together, the birds and animals made the entire Earth as the woman sat atop the turtles back. To this day, the turtle continues to hold up the earth.
One of the Spirits of the Sky World found Earth so beautiful that he created people to live on it. He created people and gave them special skills, gifts that they could share with the rest of mankind.
To the Lakota, the gods lived in the heavens. Humans were pitiable culture-less creatures living in the underworld. The trickster, the spider Inktomi, caused a fight between the sun god and his wife, goddess of the moon. Their separation, and the subsequent rift in the heavens, marked the creation of time. For this, some of Inktomi’s co-conspirators were forced to live in exile on the earth. Space was created when the gods of the four winds were scattered.
Inktomi disguised himself as a wolf and traveled to the underworld, telling the humans of the paradise above. Tokahe (“the first”) followed Inktomi to the surface, where he saw a beautiful world. Excitedly, he returned to the underworld and persuaded others to join him. Once they returned to the surface, they found that the world was full of hardships. Although they wanted to return to their subterranean home, Inktomi prevented them from returning, and they were forced to remain, scattering far and wide to find a life for themselves.