Today, enjoy Native American legends and myths by Silvia Cuevas Mostacero. There are many and all of them fabulous. Lost times, lost paradises… Have a nice Tuesday, Yareah friends!
Life isn’t about finding yourself… It’s about creating yourself… SCM
There are hundreds of Native American tribes that still exist in America today and each of them have their own creation stories (and many others). It is amazing how a story changes into a religion in some places and remains a myth in others… In some ways, they are vastly different from each other and from European and Asian cultural stories, but in other ways, they are disturbingly familiar.
In fact, the most striking point is how many similarities there are. Not only are the stories similar to each other, but they are similar to our Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark stories and more.
In Native American myths of creation, the gods are known by many names. The Great Spirit and simply The Creator are the most common. The Southwest Apache name for the creator is One Who Lives Above. Great Chief Above is a derivative of Great Spirit and used by the Chelan people. The sun god of the Lakota (or Sioux) is referred to as Something that Moves. Grandfather of All Things is the name the Florida Seminoles use for the creator god, and the Navajo call him the Talking God. They also tell a story of the Ever Changing Woman that had twins with a sun god. Those twins went on to perform great deeds of arms, reflecting the Greek story of Apollo and Artemis. The Lake Erie area Iroquois talk about the Woman who Dreamed Dreams. You can called it God, Yahweh, Allah, Krishna or Manitou the woman is who I like most…
Among the stories of the Native American tribes, the themes of water and mud appear to be the strongest (Do they ring a bell?). For the Lakota, the world is wiped clean in a flood reminiscent of Noah’s Ark. After the flood, the Creator allows four animals to attempt to reach the bottom of the ocean to bring the mud up from it and reform the land. It is only the turtle who is able to do it. This creator also created things in the world by singing them, and his tears became the oceans and rivers (like in the Aztec myth of Tezcatlipoca). The South Appalachian Cherokee have a similar story, but the water beetle is the saviour. It took a while for the mud to dry, and when a buzzard sent out to explore the land flapped his wings, the mountains and valleys formed where he struck. For the Iroquois, the helldiver – with the aide of the beaver and turtle – brings up the mud to support the Dreamer of Dreams after she is expelled from the Sky World (Was the fallen angel a woman? Probably, we always have the best part!).
The Apache offer a different point of view. The gods are able to bring things into being by merely thinking of them (Are these the shadows of Plato?). The Creator forms a ball of mud and this is hung by a string to create the earth.
It is only the Southwestern Navajo whose world is created by people. But the people are created by the gods…
The Chippewa believe the Great Spirit breathed into a combination of mud and a shell to create people (Isn’t this from the Bible?). The Choctaw and Creek tribes have a similar story about people being made from mud. These people had to climb through a long cave in order to reach the light of the land. The Great Lakes region Pottawatomie have the idea of four sons born to a god and a firekeeper’s daughter. The sons were sent to the four cardinal points, echoing a Comanche story of how people were created from dust from the four corners of the earth.
The Iroquois Dreamer of Dreams lives in her new world of mud, but when the Supreme Spirit of the Sky World saw it, he thought it was beautiful and populated it with people. For the Apache, humans are an experiment that went through mud and wood prototypes before ending with this type.
Lakotas have a story that resonates with the paradise lost theme. Spider, the cheater, convinced people of the underworld to search for new lives in the over world. One man agreed, saw it was beautiful, and convinced his whole tribe to move. When they realized they would have to endure hardship and hunger, they tried to go back, but Spider already had sealed the doorway.
Different people and paradises, same old stories…