What Is a Summary of the Iroquois Creation Story?

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The Iroquois creation story relates how a woman fell from the sky and was carried by birds to a giant turtle upon whose back the Earth was created, according to Iroquois Indian Museum. When she died, the woman became the moon while her daughter became Mother Earth. The Sky Woman’s twin grandsons created the flowers, land and animals on the planet.

The story begins with Sky Woman’s desire to drink tea made from the roots of the Tree of Life. The woman’s husband dug around the roots of the tree, which gave way, and the woman fell a long way. Birds gathered and brought the woman to safety on the back of a giant turtle. Sky Woman told the water animals she needed dirt to survive, so otters and muskrats brought her soil to cultivate. When the woman danced upon the bits of soil, it multiplied and plants grew as far as she could see.

Eventually, Sky Woman gave birth to a daughter. This daughter became impregnated from the West Wind and gave birth to twins. The right-handed twin was born normally, but the left-handed twin came out of the woman’s armpit and killed her. The boys buried their mother and her body provided corn, beans, squash, tobacco and wild strawberries from underneath the ground. The twins’ mother became Mother Earth.

The twins were tasked with creating everything in the natural world, including flowers, rivers, animals and even humans. The right-handed twin became the master of daytime and the left-handed twin ruled the night. Upon their grandmother’s death, the boys fought over her body and tossed her head into the sky where it became the moon.

One of the earliest recorded Iroquois creation stories was written down by John Norton in 1816 in New York. Norton was the son of Scottish and Cherokee parents who studied Native American tribes in the eastern United States.