Creation Myths of North America, Part III

The Holy Supreme Wind created mists of lights. These mists came from the darkness into the three different lower worlds, giving purpose and animation to the Holy People and supernatural and sacred ones. Before the earth was created, mankind existed in a spiritual aspect – his physical aspect would come later.

On the first world, the insects began fighting between themselves. The Holy People ordered them to depart.

The insects went to the second world and again lived in peace for a while. Eventually, the fighting began anew, and they were instructed to leave.

On the third world, the pattern repeated itself, and the insects were once again banished.

The Hopi lived in the fourth world. The insects finally learned how to live peaceably, and were transformed from insects into people. However, they could not resist fighting for long, and eventually were instructed to leave this world, too. We humans, the Earth Surface People, were born in the fourth world, and it is there that the gods provided mankind with the ceremonies and knowledge of the Navajo way of life.

First Man was formed from an ear of white corn; First Woman formed from yellow corn. Men and women appear differently because at one time, they did not appreciate each other. This lack of respect helped the success of the Monsters who killed people in the next world.

A great flood forces humans and Holy People to flee the fourth world, using a hollow reed to get to the fifth world. Each time people enter a new world, they leave some things behind while other things are brought to help people re-create each world as they enter.

Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Sun gave birth to Mother Earth – mother, because from her comes all life. Her four directions were a gift, and each had spiritual and physical powers.

When Mother Earth was young, the Creator, Gitche Manitou, filled her with beauty and music. Birds and plants and animals covered the land and filled the skies and seas. Once it was all perfect, he used the sacred megis shell and his breath to create man, the last life form to be placed on the earth. From this man came the Original People, the Anishinaabe.

When the Creator made the animals and birds and plants, he placed them all in a large shell, which he then set along the mountains (backbone of the earth). When the time was right, he knew that the egg would crack and each creature would find their own place in the world. He sealed the shell and departed, secretly hoping that his favorite animal, the Panther, would emerge first.

For many years, nothing happened. A tree grew near the shell, and over the years its roots began to surround the egg. A rootlet cracked the shell, and Wind came to enlarge the crack. The Creator helped his beloved Panther find its place first. Next came the Bird, who pecked at the hole until it was large enough to permit escape. The Bird took flight, making way for a parade of other creatures – Bear, Snake, Otter, Deer, Frog, and all the rest. Each animal sought their own place in the world.

Long ago, there was no light, no water. A rich man living near the Nass River hoarded the light, keeping it for himself. Raven, the trickster, sought to steal the light. He snuck up the dry riverbed and then, making himself very small, persuaded the man’s daughter to swallow him. She did, and became pregnant. In time, she gave birth to a child. Her child was fascinated by the bundles of light hanging from the walls, and cried piteously for them. One by one, Raven took each bundle of stars and moons, allowing them to escape up the chimney and into the heavens. At last, he stole a box of daylight, the last light owned by the family.

Raven tricked a man into letting him drink from the everlasting spring of water. During his escape, Raven flew up the chimney. The fire made by the man blackened Raven’s wings and body, and today all ravens are black. The waters created the Nass River, as well as the Stikine, Chilkat, and all the other large rivers.

Raven visited a town where the people had never seen daylight. They quarreled with him, so Raven opened the box of daylight, hoping to scare them. The villagers fled in terror, some diving into the sea and becoming ocean creatures; others escaped into the trees, becoming the creatures of the forest. Raven also created the winds and our friends, the dogs, humans that had been cursed to walk on four legs.