Origins, Myths & Migrations
HIST 223 - September 7, 2012
East Central plains. Came from the stars and would return to them. The universe
was created by a chorus of loud singing
As the sky powers sang
Female child was born, then a male child. The children were transferred on earth by
Huron: Southern Ontario
Aataentsic (sky mother) had originally dwelled in the sky where spirits live. He
sliped through a hole in the sky and began to fall. The great tortoise witnessed, and
told other animals to pile soil on his back, here the land was formed and Aataentsic
fell on his back. She had two boys (not sure if she was the mother or grandmother)
Tawiscaron – many evil qualities, could make himself a young woman.
Three different creation stories – all of them are set in a specific place that link
human creation to the particular dwelling place of the Native group involved.
Various versions of the stores: not totally stable, not always told in the same way,
the details varied.
Christianity: King James Bible , same in the Jewish and Muslim religions
Gen cpt 1:
Comparison: They all understand the origins of humanity in mythic terms. There is
something sacred involved, a sacred tone to the whole story. A kind of mystery
about it in all cases. But the last one differs from the three native American ones in a
number of interesting ways
Different: much more radical distinction between three different kinds of entities:
God, human beings, and creatures of nature. God says he’s going to make man in his
images, but he inhabits a completely different world and has an utterly different
nature- the native American one merges these worlds. Raven is an important
creature, the tortoise – they are not radically removed from humanity, nor radically
removed from the spiritual realm. The sonsTawiscaron and Iouskeha it is
ambigious as to whether they are people, or gods? Not a clear or radical distinction
In the JCM stories, God is not only the sole creator of the universe but also the
ultimate authority. He tells you what to do and you must do it and these rules apply
to everyone. Utterly authoritative. There is also a way that humanity is meant to
rule over other creatures of nature – he has dominion over all the living creatures.
Vegetation and animals are here for animals In the native American versions, The Raven is not there for humanity, he frees them
from the clam shell but he certainly is not under their dominion. You have a
hierarchy in the JCM stories, but not in the NA ones. These lines of authority or
obedience is not at all clear. Not between authority and obedience, rulers and ruled.
Fundamental difference between Monotheistic relgion and polytheistic religions.
- authoritative text vs variant oral traditions of the text – the basis of JCM is
ONE text. Not the case in any NA stories which are orally passed and
inevitably have variations. Native attitude much more tolerant of variance
and uncertainty– we are both talking about a very distant past which neither
of us have evidence.
- “The People”: who are we talking about? The Raven story it took place on the
island where the Haida live, is it all the human race or just them? Same with
the Huron and the Pawnees. The JCM talk about humanity as one single