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Iroquois And Other Creation Stories

By Edited Oct 11, 2015 0 0

Iroquois Creation Story
Credit: google images

   Throughout time different tribes and cultures have passed down oral traditions from one generation to the next about creation.  Several tribes like the Iroquois, the Aztecs and other cultures like the Aborigines tell stories that are somewhat alike yet so different.  The belief in the myth of the Five Suns is one that is believed by the Iroquois and the Aztecs.  The Australian Aborigines tale does not share in that belief but a belief by most accounts that they come from the Land.

     The Iroquois creation story talks about an upper and lower world.  The Sky Woman was the mother of the earth who gave birth to twins.  The Sky Woman died shortly after birth due to the wicked one, in attempting to go out her side, caused the death of his mother.  Shortly thereafter; she was ripped apart.  Her head was used to create the Sun, the body to create the Moon.  The twins were named Teharonghyawago or the Holder of Heaven; and Tawiskaron or Flinty Rock, from his body being entirely covered with such a substance.    The twins were shown to be born of good by one son and evil by the other. There is a great turtle in this story that initially saves the Sky Woman and forms the Earth from the mud on his back.  This addition of an animal creating the Earth is unique to the Iroquois story.    At the end of this story, the brothers fought. “They fought a long time, over the whole of the island, until at last Tawiskaron fell under the conquering hand of his brother.”   This balance of good and evil is seen as well in the Aztec creation story. 

      The Aztec story begins with Quetzalcoatl, the light one and Tezcatlipoca, the dark one who was in the sky and looked down and saw only water.  The goddess that floated upon the water ate everything that they created.  In anger of her actions the two Gods pulled her apart and used her head and shoulders to make the earth and the lower part of her body to create the sky.  This is a further similarity of how these two tribes viewed the beginning of creation.  The heaven and earth seems in both stories to be formed by the body of a woman.  The Aztecs seemed to believe much like the Iroquois about the roles of male and female in the beginnings of life. 

      The Aboriginal beginnings seem different as they believe that in the beginning everything was still and every living spirit on earth was asleep.  There is a Great Father of all Spirits who closely resembles the God-like entity of the other creation stories.  He awakens the Sun Mother to go to earth and bring forth an awakening of the sleeping spirits. “Mother, I have work for you. Go down to the Earth and wake the sleeping spirits.”   The Mother had light radiating from her.  As she was sent into the caves this light awoke the spirits who then flew out.  She was responsible for the creation of fish, small snakes and lizards, as well as awakening birds and animals.  Much like the other creation stories she gave birth to two children and sent them to Earth. This is contrary to the beliefs of the Native American tribes discussed previously.  As they are specific about the first humans being a man and a woman.  The story also continues to speak about the evil that crept into the hearts of the children of the Earth.  The Sun Mother allowed them to change shape into whatever they wanted to which were different types of animals.  The good came from her own children to overcome the evil which she observed and mediated.   “She made them superior to the animals because they had part of her mind and would never want to change their shape.     

      The Iroquois, Aztec and Aborigines people have creation belief systems steeped in tradition.  The outcomes of all the traditions have a basic foundation of good and evil, heaven and earth.  Depending upon the story teller the stories have continued to evolve but the similarities and the differences remain the same.  In the Indian tribes the story of a man and woman that are responsible for all of the Earth’s inhabitants seems to be the theme.  The creations of all the things that exist on earth seem to be from a God-like entity.  Throughout these stories; this higher power has ensured the viability of all existence.  This clearly shows that no matter who is telling the story the principles are the same.  There is a higher power that is responsible for the creation of the Earth.  That good and bad has always existed; even in the beginning of time.  In the creation stories of all three cultures; out of the body of the woman; the Sun and Moon were created which accounted for daylight and darkness which both descended upon the Earth and its inhabitants.  The stories also show that Good has always triumphed over evil no matter what the odds or how grave the situation.  These stories allow us to share in a part of these cultural creation beliefs whether they are truth or legend.  Much like Christian stories of creation with is a great part of our belief system; our culture and tradition play a major role in their importance.






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  1. Carl F. Klinck and James J. Talman "Iroquois Creation Story." The Jornal of Major Norton, 1816. (1970): 88-91.
  2. Glenn Welker "Aztec Creation Story." Indigenous People's Literature. 21/09/2011 <Web >

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