Turtle Island

February 16, 2009
Turtle Island

Turtle Island

There was another world before this one.  But the people of that world did not behave themselves.  Displeased, Creator set out to make a new world.  He sang several songs to bring rain, which poured stronger with each song.

As he sang the fourth song, the earth split apart and water gushed up through the many cracks, causing a flood. By the time the rain stopped, all of the people and nearly all of the animals had drowned. Only Crow survived.

Crow pleaded with Creator to make him a new place to rest. So Creator decided the time had come to make his new world.  From his huge pipe bag, which contained all types of animals and birds, Creator selected four animals known for their ability to remain under water for a long time.  He sent each in turn to retrieve a lump of mud from beneath the flood waters.

First Loon dove deep into the dark waters, but he was unable to reach the bottom.  Otter, even with his strong webbed feet, also failed.  Next, Beaver used his large flat tail to propel itself deep under the water, but he too brought nothing back. 

Finally, Creator took Turtle from his pipe bag and urged him to bring back some mud.  Turtle stayed under the water for so long that everyone was sure it had drowned.  Then, with a splash, Turtle broke the water’s surface!  Mud filled his feet and claws and the cracks between his upper and lower shells.

Singing, Creator shaped the mud in his hands and spread it on the water, where it was just big enough for himself and Crow. He then shook two long eagle wing feathers over the mud until earth spread wide and varied, overcoming the waters.  Feeling sadness for the dry land, Creator cried tears that became oceans, streams, and lakes.  He named the new land Turtle Island in honor of the turtle who provided the mud from which it was formed.

Creator then took many animals and birds from his great pipe bag and spread them across the earth.  From red, white, black, and yellow earth, he made men and women. Creator gave the people his sacred pipe and told them to live by it.  He warned them about the fate of the people who came before them.  He promised all would be well if all living things learned to live in harmony.  But the world would be destroyed again if they made it bad and ugly.

Adapted from:

Wolf Elective 10a. American Indian Lore: Read a book or tell a story about American Indians, past or present.


One Response to “Turtle Island”

  1. […] WordPress.com « Turtle Island […]

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