Earth World

Here is an example of a Mohawk creation myth that Rona Rustige collected. She gathered these stories from residents of Tyendinaga Reserve, Ontario who learned them from their grandparents and other elders.

The Earth World

The woman from the sky world went through the hole in the sky and fell downwards; there was only water below her. The beaver, the otter, the muskrat, and the turtle saw her fall, and fearing that she would drown sent a flock of ducks to catch her. The ducks flew underneath the woman, caught her on their backs, and set her safely down on the turtle’s shell.

When she had rested she told the animals what must be done. She said that she needed soil which could be obtained from the bottom of the sea that covered the world. The strong beaver was the first to go down towards the bottom. He was gone a very long time until finally his drowned body floated to the surface. The otter considered himself to be a much better swimmer than the beaver; he was the second to make the attempt. He was down for an even longer time, and when his body surfaced he too was dead. Finally the muskrat attempted the dive. He was underwater longer even than the otter, but his body eventually floated to the surface. The woman discovered a tiny piece of soil in the crevice of the muskrat’s paw, and this she sprinkled on the edge of the turtle’s shell.

While the woman slept, the world grew from the edge of the turtle’s shell and extended as far as one could see in every direction. By the time she awoke there were willows growing along the edge of the world, and they were the first trees to grow upon the earth (Rustige 1988: 6-7).