Long before the world
was created there was an island, floating in the sky, upon which the Sky
People lived. They lived quietly and happily. No one ever died or was
born or experienced sadness. However one day one of the Sky Women
realized she was going to give birth to twins. She told her husband, who
flew into a rage. In the center of the island there was a tree which
gave light to the entire island since the sun hadn't been created yet.
He tore up this tree, creating a huge hole in the middle of the island.
Curiously, the woman peered into the hole. Far below she could see the
waters that covered the earth. At that moment her husband pushed her.
She fell through the hole, tumbling towards the waters below.
Water animals already
existed on the earth, so far below the floating island two birds saw the
Sky Woman fall. Just before she reached the waters they caught her on
their backs and brought her to the other animals. Determined to help the
woman they dove into the water to get mud from the bottom of the seas.
One after another the animals tried and failed. Finally, Little Toad
tried and when he reappeared his mouth was full of mud. The animals took
it and spread it on the back of Big Turtle. The mud began to grow and
grow and grow until it became the size of North America. Then the woman stepped
onto the land. She sprinkled dust into the air and created stars. Then
she created the moon and sun.
The Sky Woman gave
birth to twin sons. She named one Sapling. He grew to be kind and gentle.
She named the other Flint and his heart was as cold as his name. They
grew quickly and began filling the earth with their creations.
Sapling created what is
good. He made animals that are useful to humans. He made rivers that
went two ways and into these he put fish without bones. He made plants
that people could eat easily. If he was able to do all the work himself
there would be no suffering.
Flint destroyed much of
Sapling's work and created all that is bad. He made the rivers flow only
in one direction. He put bones in fish and thorns on berry bushes. He
created winter, but Sapling gave it life so that it could move to give
way to Spring. He created monsters which his brother drove beneath the
Eventually Sapling and
Flint decided to fight till one conquered the other. Neither was able to
win at first, but finally Flint was beaten. Because he was a god Flint
could not die, so he was forced to live on Big Turtle's back.
Occasionally his anger is felt in the form of a volcano.
The Iroquois people
hold a great respect for all animals. This is mirrored in their creation
myth by the role the animals play. Without the animals' help the Sky
Woman may have sunk to the bottom of the sea and earth may not have been