Native American Legends
Lakota Creation Myth
A Lakota Legend
There was another world before this one. But the people of that
world did not behave themselves. Displeased, the Creating Power
set out to make a new world. He sang several songs to bring rain,
which poured stronger with each song.
As he sang the fourth song, the earth split apart and water gushed
up through the many cracks, causing a flood. By the time the rain
stopped, all of the people and nearly all of the animals had drowned.
Only Kangi the crow survived.
Kangi pleaded with the Creating Power to make him a new place to
rest. So the Creating Power decided the time had come to make his
new world. From his huge pipe bag, which contained all types of
animals and birds, the Creating Power selected four animals known
for their ability to remain under water for a long time. He sent
each in turn to retrieve a lump of mud from beneath the flood waters.
First the loon dove deep into the dark waters, but it was unable
to reach the bottom. The otter, even with its strong webbed feet,
also failed. Next, the beaver used its large flat tail to propel
itself deep under the water, but it too brought nothing back. Finally,
the Creating Power took the turtle from his pipe bag and urged it
to bring back some mud.
Turtle stayed under the water for so long that everyone was sure
it had drowned. Then, with a splash, the turtle broke the water's
surface! Mud filled its feet and claws and the cracks between its
upper and lower shells. Singing, the Creating Power shaped the mud
in his hands and spread it on the water, where it was just big enough
for himself and the crow. He then shook two long eagle wing feathers
over the mud until earth spread wide and varied, overcoming the
waters. Feeling sadness for the dry land, the Creating Power cried
tears that became oceans, streams, and lakes. He named the new land
Turtle Continent in honor of the turtle who provided the mud from
which it was formed.
The Creating Power then took many animals and birds from his great
pipe bag and spread them across the earth. From red, white, black,
and yellow earth, he made men and women. The Creating Power gave
the people his sacred pipe and told them to live by it. He warned
them about the fate of the people who came before them. He promised
all would be well if all living things learned to live in harmony.
But the world would be destroyed again if they made it bad and ugly.
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