Native American Legends
A Wyandot (Huron) Legend
Many years ago the world had two parts. Animals lived in the lower
part, which was completely covered in water and had no land or soil.
Above was the Sky World, where the sky people lived. The Sky World
had lots of soil, with beautiful mountains and valleys. One day
a girl from the Sky World went for a long walk and became very tired.
"I'm so tired, I need to rest," she said. She sat down
under the spreading branches of an apple tree and quickly fell asleep.
Suddenly, there was a rumbling sound like thunder and the ground
began to crack. A big hole opened up next to the apple tree.
"What's happening?" screamed the frightened girl. She
tried to move but it was too late. She and the tree slid through
the hole and tumbled over and over towards the watery world below.
"Help me! Help me!" screamed the girl. Luckily two swans
were swimming below and saw the girl tumbling down from the sky.
"Come on!" yelled one swan. "Let's catch her before
she hits the water." "Okay!" yelled the other. The
swans spread their wings together and caught the girl on their soft
feather backs. "Whew! That was lucky," said the girl.
"But what do I do now? I can't get back up to the Sky World
and I can't stay on your backs forever."
"We'll take you to Big Turtle," said the swans. "He
knows everything." After hearing what happened, the Big Turtle
called all the animals in the water world to a meeting. He told
them an old story about soil being found deep under the water. "If
we can get some of that soil, we can build an island on my back
for you to live on," said the Big Turtle.
"Sounds good to me," said the young girl.
The Otter, Beaver and Muskrat started arguing over whom would dive
for the soil. "I'll go," said the sleek Otter, brushing
his glossy fur. "No! I'll go," said Beaver, slapping the
water with his big flat tail. "I'm the best swimmer,"
said Muskrat "I'll go."
"Aaaachooo!" sneezed the young girl." Guys, guys,
would just one of you go. These swan feathers are getting up my
nose and making me sneeze."
"Sorry" said the swans.
"That's alright," said the young Sky girl.
Then Toskwaye the little Toad popped up out of the water. "I'll
go. I can dive very deep," she said. The other animals started
laughing and pointing at Toskwaye. "You! You're too small and
ugly to help." Cried the others, laughing.
"Be quite!" said Big Turtle in a loud, stern voice. "Everyone
is equal and everyone will have a chance to try". The sleek
Otter smoothed his glossy fur, took a deep breath and slid into
the water. He was gone for a long time before he came up gasping
for air. "It was too deep," he said. "I couldn't dive
"Now it's my turn," said Beaver. He slapped the water with
his tail as he disappeared. After a long time he came to the surface
again. "It's too far" he gasped. "No one can dive
that deep." Muskrat tried next and failed.
"Aaaachoo!" sneezed the young girl. "This is not
"Now it's my turn," said little Toskwaye the Toad. She took
a deep breath and jumped into the water. She was gone a very long
time and everyone thought they wouldn't see her again.
Suddenly Otter pointed at the water, shouting, and "Look, look
bubbles!" Toskwaye's small, ugly face appeared through the
water. She spat a few grains of soil onto the Big Turtle's back,
then fell back into the water - dead.
The Turtle ordered the others to rub the soil grains and spread
them around on his shell. The grains grew and grew, until a large
island was formed - big enough for the girl to live on. It grew
into our world, as we know it today. And the descendants of the
Sky girl became the Earth's people.
Today, some people say the whole world still rests on Big Turtles
back. When he gets tired and changes his position, we have earthquakes.
Toad has not been forgotten either. American native Indians call
her "Mashutaha", which means 'Our Grandmother'. No one
is allowed to harm her.
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