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Creation Theologies


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Native Americans

A look at several Native American creation stories



In the beginning, the First Pipe Keeper floated on a limitless body of water with the Flat Pipe. After fasting and praying to the creator he was inspired to send a duck to search beneath the waters surface. The duck came back with a small amount of dirt which the First Pipe Keeper put in the pipe. He then sent a turtle to the bottom who also returned with dirt. The First Pipe Keeper added this dirt to the pipe as well and blew it toward the four directions. By doing so, he created the earth. He then made the sun and moon, man and woman, vegetable and animal life, day and night, and the four seasons. He taught the first people the religious ceremonies they would need. Then the duck and turtle were placed with the pipe into a bundle. The Arapaho, all of whom descendants of the first man and woman, have been responsible for them ever since. These are symbols of the creation and their protection of a sacred trust.


Before Kamalapukwia, the first woman, was born, her ancestors came from the underworld on the first corn plant. Her tribe had never left the big hole, now known as Montezume Well, where they first arrived. Only Ihija the dove journeyed over the edge of the big hole to see the world. The cloud, Gwi, began to pour rain into the tribes big hole which soon became flooded. The people had no escape. Kamalapukwias father told her that she was the only one that could be saved, and she would start a new tribe in the outside world. She and Ihija were placed in a small log canoe packed with food. Her mother also placed a precious white stone in the canoe and told Kamalapukwia to keep the stone with her always and its power would keep her safe.
Kamalapukwia and Ihija spent days in the small boat until they suddenly hit solid earth. On land, she began to climb Mingus Mountain to Nya, the sun. At the top of the mountain, she sat on a rock and waited for Nya. Soon the sky became bright with yellows and reds which frightened her because she had never seen the sun before. Kamalapukwia, tired from the boat ride and hike, fell asleep. As Nya came closer, he saw that she was the only person in the land and decided to make her a child to end her loneliness. Nya made Kamalapukwia his wife. He warned her of the coming winter and that it would be difficult to find food. He instructed her that Ihija will find a cave where she can make her home. Ihija will also help her find food to eat and store and will keep her company. Nya said, In a few months when I make the earth warm again, you will have a child to keep you from being lonely. You are the first woman, but in a few years many tribes of people will live in the land.
She was lonely during the winter because she could not leave the cave, but she was warm and well fed. After Nya warmed the earth, spring came and Kamalapukwias daughter Amjakupooka was born. As Amjakupooka grew, she was taught everything that Kamalapukwia learned from Nya, Ihija and her parents. One day the daughter went to Mingus Mountain to ask Nya to give her a child. Nya, recognizing Amjakupooka as his own daughter, sent her to Gwi, the cloud. She and Gwi had a son named Sakarakaamche.
Sakarakaamche had grown big and strong and wanted a wife but knew his mother and grandmother were the only women. While thinking about his problem, Sakarakaamche was playing with a piece of clay in his hands. He had made the shape of a woman who looked like his mother. He was pleased with his clay figure and started to make several others. The figures looked alive and Sakarakaamche thought that if they were real he and his mother and grandmother would no longer be lonely. He closed his eyes and dreamed of a canyon full of people. When he opened his eyes real people had come to live in the canyon. These people were known as the Yavapai-Apache people.


In the beginning there was only water and the animals that lived in it. One day a woman fell from a torn place in the sky. She was a divine woman who was full of power. Two loons flying over the water saw her falling and flew under her making a pillow for her to sit on. The loons cried for help from other animals. The snapping turtle called all the other animals to help save the divine womans life. The animals decided she would need earth to live on. Turtle asked everyone to dive down in the water and bring up some earth. Some animals stayed down too long and died. Then Toad went under water, and when he returned, Turtle looked inside his mouth and saw a little earth. The woman took it and put it on Turtles shell. This was the start of the earth. The dry land grew until formed a country, then another country, and all the earth. To this day, Turtle holds up the earth.
Time passed and the divine woman had twin boys. One was good and one was bad. One was born in a normal way, but the other one broke out of his mothers side and she died. When the divine woman was buried, all of the plants needed for life on earth sprang from the ground above her. The pumpkin vine came from her head, maize came from her chest, and pole beans grew from her legs.
The divine womans sons grew up. The evil one was Tawis-Karong; the good one was Tijus-Kaha. They were to prepare the earth so that humans could live on it, but they found they could not live together. They separated. The bad brother made fierce, monstrous animals: wolves and bears, snakes giant size, huge mosquitoes the size of wild turkeys, and an enormous toad. The toad drank up all the fresh water on the earth.
The good brother made animals that were of use to humans: the dove, the mockingbird, and the partridge. One day the partridge flew toward the land of Tawis-Karong because there was no water. Tijus-Kaha followed the bird until he finally came to his brothers land. He saw all the giant animals his brother made. Then he saw the giant toad and cut it open. All the earths fresh water came out. He then made his brothers other creations smaller so that humans could be leaders over them.
One night Tijus-Kahas mother came to him in a dream to warn him about his evil brother. They decided they could not share the earth and had a duel to see who would be master of the world. In the first turn, Tawis-Karong pounded his brother with a bag of beans. He beat him until he was nearly dead. When Tijus-Kaha got his strength back, he chased his brother away and then beat his evil brother with a deer horn and took his life away. But the evil brother was not completely destroyed. I have gone to the far west, he said. All races of men will follow me to the west when they die. It is the belief of the Hurons that when they die, their spirits go to the far west where they will dwell forever.


In the beginning there were only two: Tawa the sun god and Spider Woman the earth goddess. All the power of the above belonged to Tawa, and all the magic of the below belonged to Spider Woman. There was neither man nor beast nor living thing until these two willed it to be. They decided there should be other gods to share the labors, so Tawa divided himself and made Muiuinwuh, God of all life germs; Spider Woman also divided herself to make Huzruiwuhti, Woman of the hard substances, Goddess of all hard ornaments of wealth such as coral, turquoise, silver, and shells. Huzruiwuhti became the bride of Tawa, and they had twins Puukonhoya and Palunhoya. But Masauwhu, the Death God, did not come of the marriage. He was bad magic who appeared only after the making of creatures.
The two had a mighty thought, to make the earth between the above and the below which was now only the endless waters. Now Tawa had thoughts of birds above, beasts on the earth, and and fish in the waters. Spider Woman took clay and formed the thoughts of Tawa, but they neither breathed nor moved. They laid a white blanket over the many figures and made an incantation over it. Soon the figures began to move. Next they made figures in their own forms to rule over the other creatures. The blanket did not work this time so Spider Woman picked them all up and the two sang the magic Song of Life over them. At last, each human figure breathed and lived.
Tawa said, I will make a journey across the above each day to shed my light upon them and return each night to Huzruiwuhti. After Spider Woman saw the creatures around her, she wound her way among them to separate them into groups. Thus and thus shall you be and thus shall you remain, aech one in her own tribe forever. You are Zunis, you are KohoninosThe Hopis, all.
Spider Woman chose a creature to lead each clan to a place to build their house. The puma, the snake, the antelope, the deer, and other horn creatures each led a clan to a place to build their house and each clan then bore the name of the creature who led them.
Then the sand began to spin like a whirlpool. Spider Woman stepped on the whirling sand and it began to suck her down. Soon she disappeared from their sight.

bang.1.gif American Creation Stories