Talapas (Creator) gave life to the surface of the Earth. It grew in abundance. Later, he placed the animal forms of all the Totem Spirits on the surface of the Earth Mother, and they prospered. Talapas then instructed T’soona (Thunderbird) to carry these special eggs from the other place, and place them on the top of Kaheese, a mountain near the Yakaitl-Wimakl (Columbia River). T’soona did so.
The Old Giantess, not wanting these special eggs to hatch, began to break the eggs. The vengeful Spirit Bird swiftly swooped down from Otelagh (the sun) and pursued the Old Giantess, and consumed her with fire, in revenge for her injustice. Soon the remaining eggs became the T’sinuk (Chinook).
Tribe: Chippewa – Ojibwe
In the beginning before there were people, before there were animals a lone woman lived in a cave. She lived on the roots and berries of the plants. One night a magical dog crept into her cave and stretched out on the her bed beside her. As the night grew long the dog began to change. His body became smooth and almost hairless. His limbs grew long and straight. His features changed into those of a handsome warrior. Nine months later the woman birthed a child. He was the first Chippewa male and through him came the Chippewa peoples.
When the Earth was young it had a family. The moon, or Grandmother and the sun, called Grandfather. The Earth was a woman – Mother Earth – because from her came all living things. Mother Earth was given four directions – East, South, West, and North, each with physical and spiritual powers.When Mother Earth was young Creator, or Gichi-Manidoo as Ojibwe people call him, filled her with beauty. He sent singers in the form of birds and swimmers in the water. He placed plants, trees, insects, crawlers and four-legged animals on the land.Gichi-Manidoo then blew into four parts of Mother Earth using the sacred megis shell. From the union of these four and his breath, two-leggeds or man, was born. Thus, man was the last form of life to be put on Earth. From this original man came the Anishinaabe – or The Original People.
The Great Serpent and the Flood
From Maine and Nova Scotia to the Rocky Mountains, Indians told stories about the Great Serpent. More than a century ago the serpent was considered to be “a genuine spirit of evil.” Some version of the story of the Great Flood of long ago, as recounted here, is told around the world.
Nanabozho (Nuna-bozo, accented on bozo) was the hero of many stories told by the Chippewa Indians. At one time they lived on the shores of Lake Superior, in what are now the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin and the province of Ontario.
One day when Nanabozho returned to his lodge after a long journey, he missed his young cousin who lived with him. He called the cousin’s name but heard no answer. Looking around on the sand for tracks, Nanabozho was startled by the trail of the Great Serpent. He then knew that his cousin had been seized by his enemy.
Nanabozho picked up his bow and arrows and followed the track of the serpent. He passed the great river, climbed mountains, and crossed over valleys until he came to the shores of a deep and gloomy lake. It is now called Manitou Lake, Spirit Lake, and also the Lake of Devils. The trail of the Great Serpent led to the edge of the water.
Nanabozho could see, at the bottom of the lake, the house of the Great Serpent. It was filled with evil spirits, who were his servants and his companions. Their forms were monstrous and terrible. Most of them, like their master, resembled spirits. In the centre of this horrible group was the Great Serpent himself, coiling his terrifying length around the cousin of Nanabozho.
The head of the Serpent was red as blood. His fierce eyes glowed like fire. His entire body was armed with hard and glistening scales of every color and shade. Looking down on these twisting spirits of evil, Nanabozho made up his mind that he would get revenge on them for the death of his cousin.
He said to the clouds, “Disappear!” And the clouds went out of sight.
“Winds, be still at once!” And the winds became still.
When the air over the lake of evil spirits had become stagnant, Nanabozho said to the sun, “Shine over the lake with all the fierceness you can. Make the water boil.”
In these ways, thought Nanabozho, he would force the Great Serpent to seek the cool shade of the trees growing on the shores of the lake. There he would seize the enemy and get revenge.
After giving his orders, Nanabozho took his bow and arrows and placed himself near the spot where he thought the serpents would come to enjoy the shade. Then he changed himself into the broken stump of a withered tree.
The winds became still, the air stagnant, and the sun shot hot rays from a cloudless sky. In time, the water of the lake became troubled, and bubbles rose to the surface. The rays of the sun had penetrated to the home of the serpents. As the water bubbled and foamed, a serpent lifted his head above the center of the lake and gazed around the shores. Soon another serpent came to the surface. Both listened for the footsteps of Nanabozho, but they heard him nowhere.
“Nanabozho is sleeping,” they said to one another. And then they plunged beneath the waters, which seemed to hiss as they closed over the evil spirits.
Not long after, the lake became more troubled. Its water boiled from its very depths, and the hot waves dashed wildly against the rocks on its banks. Soon the Great Serpent came slowly to the surface of the water and moved toward the shore. His blood-red crest glowed. The reflection from his scales was blinding–as blinding as the glitter of a sleet-covered forest beneath the winter sun. He was followed by all the evil spirits. So great was their number that they soon covered the shores of the lake.
When they saw the broken stump of the withered tree, they suspected that it might be one of the disguises of Nanabozho. They knew his cunning. One of the serpents approached the stump, wound his tail around it, and tried to drag it down into the lake. Nanabozho could hardly keep from crying aloud, for the tail of the monster prickled his sides. But he stood firm and was silent.
The evil spirits moved on. The Great Serpent glided into the forest and wound his many coils around the trees. His companions also found shade–all but one. One remained near the shore to listen for the footsteps of Nanabozho.
From the stump, Nanabozho watched until all the serpents were asleep and the guard was intently looking in another direction. Then he silently drew an arrow from his quiver, placed it in his bow, and aimed it at the heart of the Great Serpent. It reached its mark. With a howl that shook the mountains and startled the wild beasts in their caves, the monster awoke. Followed by its terrified companions, which also were howling with rage and terror, the Great Serpent plunged into the water.
At the bottom of the lake there still lay the body of Nanabozho’s cousin. In their fury the serpents tore it into a thousand pieces. His shredded lungs rose to the surface and covered the lake with whiteness.
The Great Serpent soon knew that he would die from his wound, but he and his companions were determined to destroy Nanabozho. They caused the water of the lake to swell upward and to pound against the shore with the sound of many thunders. Madly the flood rolled over the land, over the tracks of Nanabozho, carrying with it rocks and trees. High on the crest of the highest wave floated the wounded Great Serpent. His eyes glared around him, and his hot breath mingled with the hot breath of his many companions.
Nanabozho, fleeing before the angry waters, thought of his Indian children. He ran through their villages, shouting, “Run to the mountaintops! The Great Serpent is angry and is flooding the earth! Run! Run!”
The Indians caught up their children and found safety on the mountains. Nanabozho continued his flight along the base of the western hills and then up a high mountain beyond Lake Superior, far to the north. There he found many men and animals that had escaped from the flood that was already covering the valleys and plains and even the highest hills. Still the waters continued to rise. Soon all the mountains were under the flood, except the high one on which stood Nanabozho.
There he gathered together timber and made a raft. Upon it the men and women and animals with him placed themselves. Almost immediately the mountaintop disappeared from their view, and they floated along on the face of the waters. For many days they floated. At long last, the flood began to subside. Soon the people on the raft saw the trees on the tops of the mountains. Then they saw the mountains and hills, then the plains and the valleys.
When the water disappeared from the land, the people who survived learned that the Great Serpent was dead and that his companions had returned to the bottom of the lake of spirits. There they remain to this day. For fear of Nanabozho, they have never dared to come forth again.
At the beginning there was a great mound. It was called Nanih Wiya. It was from this mound that the Creator fashioned the first of the people. These people crawled through a long, dark cave into daylight. They became the first Choctaw.
“One day the Great Spirit collected swirls of dust from the four directions in order to create the Commanche people. These people formed from the earth had the strength of mighty storms. Unfortunately, a shape-shifting demon was also created and began to torment the people. The Great Spirit cast the demon into a bottomless pit. To seek revenge the demon took refuge in the fangs and stingers of poisonous creatures and continues to harm people every chance it gets.”
The Creek believe that the world was originally entirely underwater. The only land was a hill, called Nunne Chaha, and on the hill was a house, wherein lived Esaugetuh Emissee (“master of breath”). He created humanity from the clay on the hill.
The Iroquois account of demiurge is that in the beginning there was no earth to live on, only a watery abyss, but up above, in the Great Blue, there was a community called the Sky World including a woman who dreamed dreams.
One night she dreamed about the tree that was the source of light. The dream frightened her, so she went and asked the men in the Sky World to pull up the tree. They dug around the trees roots to make space for more light, and the tree fell through the hole and disappeared. After that there was only darkness. Distraught, they pushed the woman through the hole as well. The woman would have been lost in the abyss had not a fish hawk come to her aid using his feathers to pillow her.
The fish hawk could not keep her up all on his own, so he asked for help to create some firm ground for the woman to rest upon. A hell diver went down to the bottom of the sea and brought back mud in his beak. He found a turtle, smeared the mud onto its back, and dove down again for more. Ducks also brought beaks full of the ocean floor and to spread over the turtle’s shell.
The beavers helped build terrain, making the shell bigger. The birds and the animals built the continents until they had made the whole round earth, while the woman was safely sitting on the turtle’s back. The turtle continues to hold the earth on its back.
After this, one of the Spirits of the Sky World came down and looked at the earth. As he traveled over it, he found it beautiful, and so he created people to live on it and gave them special skills; each tribe of the Iroquois nation was given special gifts to share with the rest of humanity.