Creation Story

This is one of many versions of the Oneida Creation Story.  The Iroquois people all have their own similar, yet different version of how creation started.

Long ago, before there was any land here, there was water all over, the only things were the creatures that lived in the water and the birds that flew above the waters. Now further above there was land which was called the Sky World and there were beings living there, and these beings had supernatural powers. In the middle of the land was a great tree which gave them their light. There were many different things that grew on the tree; this is where they retrieved things to sustain their lives.

Now, it was that no one could cut into the tree or a great punishment would be given to that person, whoever was caught harming the tree. There was this couple and the young woman was to have a baby. This woman started to crave things and one of the things she craved was the roots and bark from the tree, so she asked her husband to go and gather this for her. He was afraid to get these items because he would surely be punished. He waited for the people to go from the tree. As they all left he went over and started digging.

As he was digging by the tree, suddenly the ground caved in and it left a big hole. The man got very scared of what had happened, so he went back and told his wife. She asked if he got what she had wanted. He told her he did not because he had gotten so scared. She was very upset and said she would get it herself.

As she arrived at to the tree, she saw the hole and went over to get a closer look. As she was looking through, she saw all the water down below. She did not know that her husband followed her. As she was looking through the hole, she slipped and fell. As she was falling she tried to grab hold of something so she would not fall. All she could grab was some of the ground and roots of the tree, but she could not hold on and she fell through. As she fell, the birds and water animals saw the light through the hole and they could see something falling. The birds were appointed to see what was falling and they found that it was a woman from the Sky World.

They sent one of the birds back down to the water animals to see which one of them would able to support her upon their back. After they talked amongst themselves to see who would be able to support her. They turned to the great turtle and she agreed to support the woman. The birds went up to bring the woman down safely and placed her on the turtle’s back.

As the woman was falling she got very frightened and fainted. She awoke on the turtle’s back and all she saw was water, the birds and the water animals. She asked where she was and the animals told her that she fell through a hole and they put her on turtle’s back. She looked to where they had pointed and to see the light shining through the hole.

She asked the animals if they knew where there would be any mud or dirt so she could mix it with the medicines she had grabbed as she fell through the hole. Some of the animals said they were not sure but there might be some at the bottom of the water.

First, the otter said he would go down and see if there was any, then he went underwater and was gone. Everyone waited patiently for the otter. Soon he came floating to the top, but didn’t get any mud. So the loon said it would try and went underwater. Everyone waited patiently for the loon to come up and soon she came up and she too did not have any mud either. So the beaver said he would try and away he went. Soon he came up with none and felt very sad. The woman told him not to feel bad and that he had tried his best. So the muskrat said he would try and he went down. For a long time, the muskrat was gone and they became worried. Then the muskrat came floating to the top with a little bit of dirt in-between his claws. The woman took it and mixed it with the medicines. She then began to rub the mixture in a counter clockwise direction and the land began to expand out.

Then the woman began to gather things, for she was getting ready to give birth to a child. As the time came, she gave birth to a girl and she was very happy. The woman and her daughter walked about the earth and she taught her about the different things that grew and what they were used for.

As the days and years went by the young girl grew to womanhood and she was very beautiful. As she was walking far from her mother, there was a man that appeared before her. The girl became terrified at seeing this man and she fainted.

As she came to, she noticed that there were these two arrows on her stomach. One had a sharp point on it and the other was dull. She took them home with her. She told her mother of this man that she had seen and of the two arrows he had left behind. Her mother explained to her that they were from sky world and that the man that came to her was the Westwind and that she would have two children. Each arrow represented one of the two children.

As the days went by the young woman did not feel too good because there was a great commotion within her body. When it was finally time to give birth, the right handed twin came out first and the natural way. While the left handed twin had seen light coming from her mouth and wanted to go that way. As he went that way, he came out her side by her armpit and it killed their mother.

Right away the left handed twin spoke up and said it was the right handed twin that killed their mother. Then the right handed twin spoke up and explained to their grandmother what had happened. He told her that he and his brother were arguing about who was going to be born first. The right handed twin told his grandmother that he was going to be born the way all children are born and his brother said he was going any way he wanted to and he came out of their mother’s armpit and that is what killed her. But, the grandmother did not believe the right handed twin and took the side of the left handed twin. She told the right handed twin as part of his punishment he had to bury their mother and angrily he started to bury his mother. As he finished, there immediately grew corn, squash and Indian tobacco.

After the right handed twin buried his mother he tried to go back to his grandmother, but she told him not to come back anymore. He got furious and killed his grandmother with an ax. He cut off her head and threw it to the sky and it became the moon. He chopped up her body and threw it to the sky and they became the stars. The only time that the grandmother was allowed to come out was during the night, the time of the left handed twin.

The thing different about the two was that they had powers to create things and they grew rapidly themselves. As the right handed twin was walking about he was creating the grasses and different medicine plants and giving them names. The left handed twin would go around and give poison to some of the plants and also to distort some others.

Now as the right handed twin was going around he was creating different plants that could be used as food and also different kinds of trees. Some were tall and straight, some big and wide and he gave them different uses. And his brother would go around changing the edible plants by making them smell awful. He would give the tall trees rough bark and the big ones small and stout with sharp thorns. Then the right handed twin started to create different animals, small ones and big ones. These animals would eat the plants to help them grow. Then the left handed twin came around and made animals that would eat the other animals that his brother had created.

Then the right handed twin made different areas where the waters would flow. He made streams, rivers, springs, lakes and the big oceans. Some of the rivers he made, the water currents flowed in both directions and the springs with sweet tasting water. Then the left handed twin came by and made the rivers have rough and jagged rocks that caused the rivers to have very rough rapids. Some of the springs breathed poison and heat which made them smell very bad.

As the right handed twin finished with the waters he went to the different birds and gave them beautiful colored feathers and songs that they could sing. Soon the left handed twin came and saw the birds; he changed some of the birds and the songs they sang. Later, the right handed twin went back to look at all the things that he had created. He noticed the other different things in his creations and knew he didn’t create those things. He looked at everything he made and saw the changes. This made him very angry and he set out to look for his brother. Soon he found him by the ocean and the right handed twin spoke very sternly to his brother and told him that he had no right changing the things that he had created. The left handed twin replied to his brother and said that he wanted to create things too. He shouldn’t be the only one to be creating things. So the right handed twin said that it was time that they decided who would be the creator of all the things on Turtle Island.

They decided that they would challenge each other with a game of lacrosse. So the right handed twin appointed the sun, who was to be known as the elder brother. When the sun would rise in the east the game would start and when it went down in the west the game would end. So they agreed and went their own way to get ready for the game.

When the sun rose from the east they began to play lacrosse and they became very rough with each other. When the sun set in the west the game stopped, but neither one of them had won the game.

So they said they would play the peach stone game when the sun came up from the east and end when the sun set in the west. When the sun rose they began to play. It was going back and forth but when the sun set in the west, still no one had won.

Then they said that they would think of something when the sun rose from the east. When it did rise the left handed twin said the only way that anyone was going to be creator of all things was that one of them would have to die. They began to fight, but it was still even, no one was winning. They went to reach for something to kill the other with. The right handed twin reached for the deer antlers and the left handed twin reached for an old stick. As this happened, the right handed twin knocked out his brother. The right handed twin thought he had killed his brother. So, he made a raft and set him on it and put him out to sea. Then the right handed twin was considered the creator of all things. He was called the Holder of the Sky. The left handed twin was called Flint because of his rigidness. The left handed twin was not killed, he survived and established new land across the ocean and created his own things, the things he liked.