The World Turtle | An Iroquois Legend

In the beginning, there was an island. It floated in the middle of the sky. There was a large tree in the middle of the island that provided light and nourishment. On this island paradise, there was neither birth nor death and neither sickness nor sadness. All the inhabitants of this island lived happily in a state of bliss.

But alas, this state of affairs did not last.

Sky Woman then revealed that she was pregnant. It was only a matter of time before she gave birth.

Her husband, the chief, then uprooted the great tree and pushed his wife into the hole. As she descended downwards, Sky Woman grasped the branches of the tree and pulled some seeds down with her.

Sky Woman fell through the floating island and down through the clouds till she landed in the deep ocean deep down below.

Two water birds saw her descent. They rose up to catch Sky Woman on their backs, but she was too heavy and they could not hold onto her for very long. They brought her to the other animals. It was decided that she needed a more stable and solid place to stay.

Beaver then dove down to the ocean to retrieve some earth, but he drowned. When Duck tried, he drowned, too. Finally, Muskrat dove down and returned with a paw that was full of dirt. The dirt was given to the large turtle Hah-nu-nah for he was the only one that was strong enough to support the world.

The dirt grew and grew till it became the earth; which was supported on the back of Hah-nu-nah in the ocean of the cosmos.

The birds then placed Sky Woman on this new earth. She opened her hands and dropped the seeds of the great tree from the floating island. These seeds flourished and created many different trees and a variety of grasses on Earth.

Sky Woman then gave birth to twin sons. Sapling was kind and sweet. He created rivers and fish and delicious edible plants. Flint, on the other hand, killed his mother by forcing his way out. He made the rivers flow in only one direction, gave the fish many tiny bones and covered the bushes in thorns.

The brothers then took the Sky Woman’s body and from the remnants of her; they made the Sun and the Moon.


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