Our Dance Stories

by George Beaver

Our Creation Legend

All of the Six Nations Iroquois have a similar version of the Creation Story. The first version I heard began with the events just before the Sky Woman fell to earth. I have since come across earlier versions of the story that describe the Sky World in more detail. Sky Woman’s former life in the Sky World with her mother and, later, her husband, are interesting, but I prefer the short, simple version I first heard.

Long, long ago, before ancient times had even started, was the Sky World in which the Sky People lived. Providing light to the Sky World was a tall Tree of Light. It was strictly forbidden to harm or tamper with this tree that gave light to the Sky World. However, the young and pregnant Sky Woman, who was keeping her husband busy acquiring unusual foods to feed her cravings, persuaded him to dig around the roots of the Tree of Light. At last it toppled over, leaving a great hole where it had stood. The Sky Woman looked into the hole, and there below the Sky World she saw another world covered with water.

The Sky Woman tried to get a better look, but she slipped and fell right through the hole toward the world below. As she fell toward the Earth, a high-flying Eagle saw her and quickly told the other birds, who flew up to catch the Sky Woman. The birds and animals held a quick council, and then asked a giant turtle if they could set her on its back. The turtle agreed and the birds safely set her on the turtle’s back.

The Sky Woman had brought a small number of plants with her, and now the water animals began to dive down to get a bit of soil so the plants could grow. At last the humble muskrat succeeded and a bit of soil was spread on the turtle’s back. Then the Sky Woman walked around the bit of soil. The power she had brought with her from the Sky World caused the soil to spread until the new land stretched to the horizon.