American Indian Creation Stories
The ancients all had greater powers and cunning than either animals or people. Besides the ancients, real people lived on the earth at that time. Old One made the people out of the last balls of mud he took from the earth. They were so ignorant that they were the most helpless of all the creatures Old One had made.
The difficulty with the early world was that most of the ancients were selfish, and they were also very stupid in some ways. They did not know which creatures were deer and which were people, and sometimes they ate people by mistake.
At last Old One said,"There will soon be no people if I let things go on like this." So he sent Coyote to teach the Indians how to do things. And Coyote began to travel on the earth, teaching the Indians, making life easier and better for them, and performing many wonderful deeds.
The Iroquois trace the beginning of human life to a time when Skywoman fell to an island created by a giant turtle. The island grew in shape and size and became North America. There, Skywoman gave birth to a daughter whose children propagated the human race.
The People went through four worlds before they walked up a reed from the bottom of the Lake of Changing Waters into the present world. First Man and First Woman led the others, and with them came their two first children, the Changing Twins.
One took some clay from the stream bed in his hand and it shaped itself into a food bowl. The other Twin found reeds growing and with them he shaped a water basket. Then they picked up stones from the ground and the pieces became axes and hammers, knives and spear points in their hands. Last of all the Twins shaped digging sticks from branches of mountain mahogany, and hoes from deer shoulder blades.
They found the Kisani, a different people growing gardens in the valleys, and the People traded their tools and baskets and bowls and weapons for seeds to plant in their own places along the rivers. They learned how to build dams and spread the water on the dry ground where it was needed.
When Kloskurbeh, the All-Maker, lived on earth, there were no people yet. But one day a youth appeared, born from the foam of the waves, and became his chief helper. After these two beings had created all manner of things, there came to them a beautiful girl. She was born of the wonderful earth plant, and of the dew, and of warmth.
First Mother (as she was called) married the chief helper of Kloskurbeh. When their children multiplied until there was not enough game to feed them all, First Mother made her husband kill her. Then he and his children dragged her body back and forth across a barren plot of land, as she had ordered, and buried her bones in the center of the field. Seven months later they returned and found the field green with ripe corn and, in the center, fragrant tobacco.
Way back in the distant past, the ancestors of humans were living down below in a world under the earth. They weren't humans yet, they lived in darkness, behaving like bugs.
Now there was a Great Spirit watching over everything; some people say he was the sun. He saw how things were down under the earth, so he sent his messenger, Spider Old Woman, to talk to them. She said, "You creatures, the Sun Spirit doesn't want you living like this. He is going to transform you into something better, and I will lead you to another world."
When they came out on the surface of the earth, that's when they became humans. In the journeys that followed, they were looking for a place of harmony where they could follow good teachings and a good way of life.