the creation story

The traditions of the Iroquois account of Creation have been a part of the rich spiritual and cultural life of the People of the Longhouse for generations. The events and meaning of this narrative are traditionally carried through time in the memories of the Elders. It is a sacred account fundamental to native culture and identity. Its deep meaning has always been treated with the greatest respect and retold with dignity and sanctity.

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Print 1

Sonkwaia’tíson and Tawiskáron
Creator rules the morning
Flint rules the afternoon and night

The left handed twin was called Flint. Flint conceals himself in the caverns and he will control the night. He will use his magical power to control human beings as well. When it becomes dark at night he is more lively and powerful. He can control man-beings by speaking only once.

The right handed twin is called the Holder of Heavens. He is the good twin who controls the day. Native people honour the right handed twin because he created all things for mankind. This is the good minded twin who created the earth and he also created human beings to dwell here on earth.

There are people who will follow the way he instructed them – the way a person is supposed to be. The left handed twin also instructs the way that pleases him how people are to be so; it is our choice what each person will be best to follow.

print 1

Print 2

Taharonhiaw-:kon and Tawisk-ron battle Who will rule Mother Earth, Iethnist=nha.

The battle between Tawisk-ron [Flint] and Taharonhiaw-:kon [Holder of Heavens] who rules the world. Tawiskaron became angry, and he got a stick to use for his weapon and said, “Now I kill thee” and with the stick he struck his brother. But after awhile Tawisk-ron became aware that his blows against Taharonhiaw-:kon did not cut or hurt him. And so his blows failed. Then Tawiskaron fled and Taharonhiaw-:kon pursued him.

Whenever Taharonhiaw-:kon saw yellow flint and deer horns he would pick them up and hit his brother with them. Then after awhile he threw him over the mountain toward the west where the earth extends and there lies the view of the large mountains that crosses the whole earth. So it is said that is where he dwells.


Print 3

Katsian[:ionte Hanging Flower. From our mother’s body grew Tionh=kon, the Three Sisters; corn beans and squash. From her head grew Onienkwa]n:we the native tobacco.

At the time when the young woman gave birth to twins, one of them caused her death by violently bursting through her armpit. The name of the culprit twin was Flint and his brother was called Taharonhiaw-:kon. Their grandmother was angered by the death of her daughter. She asked the twins, “Which one of you killed my daughter?” Flint quickly replied and accused his brother and she believed him, and she cast Taharonhiaw-:kon into the bushes. He did not die but grew very rapidly to manhood. The grandmother was very fond of Flint. Taharonhiaw-:kon began his task creating all kinds of animals, birds, and plant; and the Holder of Heavens, ordained that his mother will have a duty for things to grow: grasses, bushes, fruits, trees, tobacco, corn, beans, and squash; and from her body man-beings will use the sustenance and it will grow again when the air changes and becomes warm on earth. So when the twins and their grandmother buried their mother’s body, she became “mother earth” and from her head grew the native tobacco, from her breast grew the corn, from her stomach grew the squash, from her fingers grew the beans, and from her feet grew potatoes.


Print 4

Wa’tewatsitsian=:kare, Mature Flower, falls from Onhe]n:we Tionhontsi-:te’, the Creator’s land, onto the turtle’s back. Now this begins the creation of the Onkweh]n:we, the original people of the Turtle Island.

The people in the upper world uprooted the “tree of light” and there caused to be a deep hole where the tree was uprooted. The owner of the “tree” looked into the hole and after awhile he said to his spouse, “Do look into the hole to see what things are occurring beyond.” Then she bent forward to look into the hole and he placed his fingers against her back and pushed her and she fell into the hole. So truly the woman-being fell in the hole into the darkness. After awhile she passed through the thick darkness to another world and there she saw a great body of water where there were all kinds of water fowl. There a loon noticed her and he shouted. He said, “There is a female one coming up from the depths of the water?” Then the bittern spoke and said, “She is not coming up out of the depths of the water?” He said, “She is falling from above?” So the water fowl carried her safely onto the turtle’s back.” Then the muskrat said, “I will get some earth below,” and he went under the water and later his body floated up and the animals found some earth in his paws and in his mouth, and they gave the woman the earth to place on the turtle’s back. This is how it became the “turtle island.”


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