Monday, August 20, 2012

earth on turtle's back

Here is the first myth our leaders selected-- thanks!  (Ironically, I think it's also the one that's in your textbook, so if you'd rather read a hard copy you already have it at home.)

Before this Earth existed, there was only water. It stretched as far as one could see, and in that water there were birds and animals swimming around. Far above, in the clouds, there was a Skyland. In that Skyland there was a great and beautiful tree. It had four white roots which stretched to each of the sacred directions, and from its branches all kinds of fruits and flowers grew.

There was an ancient chief in the Skyland. His young wife was expecting a child, and one night she dreamed she saw the Great Tree uprooted. The next morning she told her husband the story.

He nodded as she finished telling her dream. “My wife,” he said, “I am sad you had this dream. It is clearly a dream of great power and, as is our way, when one has such a powerful dream we must do all that we can to make it true. The Great Tree must be uprooted.”
Then the Ancient Chief called the young men together and told them they must pull up the tree. But the roots of the tree were so deep, so strong, they could not budge it. At last the Ancient Chief himself came to the tree. He wrapped his arms around it, bent his knees and strained. At last, with one great effort, he uprooted the tree and placed it on its side. Where the tree’s roots had gone deep into Skyland there was now a big hole. The wife of the chief came close and leaned over to look down, grasping the tip of one of the Great Tree’s branches to steady herself. It seemed as if she saw something down there, far below, glittering like water. She leaned out further to look and, as she leaned, she lost her balance and fell into the hole. Her grasp slipped off the tip of the branch, leaving her with only a handful of seeds as she fell, down, down, down, down.
Far below, in the waters, some of the birds and animals looked up.
“Someone is falling toward us from the sky, “ said one of the birds.
“We must do something to help her,” said another. Then two Swans flew up. They
caught the Woman From The Sky between their wide wings. Slowly, they began to bring
her down toward the water, where the birds and animals were watching.
“She is not like us, “ said one of the animals. “Look, she doesn’t have webbed feet. I don’t think she can live in the water.”
“What shall we do, then?” said another of the water animals.
“I know,” said one of the water birds. “I have heard there is Earth far below the waters. If we dive down and bring up Earth, then she will have a place to stand.”
So the birds and animals decided someone would have to bring up Earth. One by one they tried.
The Duck dove down first, some say. He swam down and down, far beneath the surface, but could not reach the bottom and floated back up. Then the Beaver tried. He went even deeper, so deep that it was all dark, but he could not reach the bottom, either. The loon tried, swimming with his strong wings. He was gone a long, long time, but he, too, failed to bring up Earth. Soon it seemed that all had tried and all had failed. Then a small voice spoke.
“I will bring up Earth or die trying.”
They looked to see who it was. It was the tiny Muskrat. She dove down and swam and swam. She was not as strong or as swift as the others, but she was determined. She went so deep it was all dark, and still she swam deeper. She went so deep her lungs felt ready to burst, but she swam deeper still. At last, just as she was becoming unconscious, she reached out one small paw and grasped at the bottom, barely touching it before she floated up, almost dead.
When the other animals saw her break the surface they thought she had failed. She couldn’t speak from exhaustion, but then they saw her right paw was held tightly shut.
“She has the Earth,” they said. “Now where can we put it?”
“Place it on my back,” said a deep voice. It was the Great Turtle, who had come up from the depths.
They brought the Muskrat over to the Great Turtle and placed her paw against his back. To this day there are marks at the back of the Turtle’s shell which were made by Muskrat’s paw. The tiny bit of Earth fell on the back of the Turtle. Almost immediately, it began to grow larger and larger and larger until it became the whole world.
Then the two Swans brought the Sky Woman down. She stepped onto the new Earth and opened her hand, letting the seeds fall onto the bare soil. From those seeds the trees and the grass sprang up. Life on Earth had begun.

From the young wife’s dream to the events that follow, this is a story of sacrifices that bring new life. The Great Tree is uprooted, yet its seeds become the source of plants on the Earth. Muskrat tries so hard to reach the bottom of the waters she nearly dies. Her determination helps her to succeed in bringing up the Earth, where others who are stronger and faster have failed. The Great Turtle gives his shell to hold the Earth and the seeds brought by the Great Chief’s wife bring life to the new Earth.


  1. I thought this was a good story and it shows us that you don't have to be the biggest or strongest to accomplish something.

    1. I thought the same thing right after I read this

    2. Well that sums up my thoughts on the story. It had a good moral, it kind of reminded my of the Tortoise and the Hare. Even though the Hare was stronger and faster in the end it was the Tortoise who succeeded. Two different stories but in a way they are similar.

  2. This Myth was awesome ! i kinda got the moral of it but im not to sureee haha...

  3. i really enjoyed it! i love myths like that. it was very relaxing to read.

  4. I loved it! It was easy to understand and overall just a good story.

  5. Never been a big fan of Native American myths, but this one surprised me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece, though I'd take Greek myths over these any day!

  6. I really liked this story. It was very easy to read and it really shows you the meaning of the story in an easy way. This story I would recommend to others. It really shows that it doesn't matter how strong or big you are as long as you have more determination you can succeed in anything you put your mind to.

  7. This is a very interesting story. It shows how determination and sacrifice can be used to create something great.
    Great story I hope for more like this in the future.