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.