Read the following stories and Compare and Contrast the similarities and differences in between the versions of the creation myths.
What societal values do you observe reading the two myths of creation?
Why do you think it is relevant to familiarize with the myths of creation?
What role do women play in the aboriginal stories?
Execute some research or recall some Western /African creation stories and analyse and evaluate the resemblance of the aboriginal views and the western view. Support your answer with researched evidence.
One of the most famous stories that the Haida tell is the story of Raven. The story begins during a time when there was only water and the sky above. There was no earth, only a single reef that came out of the water. A reef is a chain of rocks close to the surface of the water or sticking out of it. All of the great beings lived on top of this reef. The greatest of the beings lived on highest point of the reef. Next to him were all the others stretched in a row. Finally at the end was the weakest of the great beings. The great flying being, Raven, flew above but couldn't find a place to land. He decided that he would travel to the sky country instead.
The Raven and the First Men, cedar sculpture by Bill Reid
In the sky country, there was a town that was set up in five rows. In the town, the chief's daughter had a baby. During the night, Raven entered the chief's house, scooped the baby out of its skin and took its place, becoming Raven Child. Then Raven Child began to get hungry, so he took an eye from everyone in the first row of the village and ate them all. He did this for four more nights with each of the other rows in the village. A woman made of stone saw everything that was happening, and she told the sky people about it. The chief of the town called everyone together and sang a song for Raven Child. One of the people was holding Raven Child in his cradle and dropped him. He fell down though the sky and drifted on the water. Suddenly Raven Child heard a voice say, "Your grandfather is going to let you in." He stepped out onto a two-headed totem pole made of stone and he found he could climb up and down it. He climbed down and found a house at the bottom. He entered the house and found a man that looked like a seagull. The man said to Raven Child, "Put this speckled stone in the water first and the black one next. After you do this, bite off a piece of each and spit it out. You will see them unite and become one." Raven Child did as he was told. When the two pieces came together they began to appear as trees. He put them in the water and they stretched and became the land called Haida Gwaii. After this, Raven Child was able to make many things. When the great waters had gone down, Raven Child summoned four groups of human beings. One of the groups of human beings was the Haida. We learn from this oral tradition that the Haida believe in a world that lives above them, an earth world in the middle, and a world below the earth. The story also tells us that the trees and land are sacred to the Haida. The Raven is also sacred. He is a trickster who is greedy and mischievous, but who also teaches humans how to live a good life. The Raven has supernatural powers and uses them to obtain important things for humans. He stole the sun, moon and stars for humans, as well as giving them fresh water, salmon and fire. When the Haida look at their country, they understand the story of Raven. His creation is all around them.
Creation Story - Aataentsic
The Wendat have several versions of the story of how they came to be. This is one of them. There once were two worlds. One of the worlds was up in the sky. The other world was the Earth. At that time the Earth was covered with water. The only beings that lived on the Earth were those that could live in or on the water. The sky world, on the other hand, was inhabited by beings that could walk on land. Some of these beings were like humans. These people would pick the corn from one patch of corn to get their food. Each day they would take corn from the stalks. One day, a young woman decided to cut the corn stalks, instead of simply plucking the corn. Once the corn stalks were cut down they could never grow again. Some of her brothers became angry and threw the young woman down through a hole in the sky. In her hands were the corn stalks she had cut down, as well as beans, squash and tobacco. As the young woman fell through the sky, some of the water birds looked up. They were ducks, herons and loons. They decided to help the falling woman. They flew up and surrounded her and were able to cushion her fall. However, their wings were getting tired of holding her. Great Turtle arrived and told them to put her on his back. He said he would hold her. Toad arrived and said he would dive down into the water and get some earth from the bottom. When he came back up, he had a mouthful of dirt and he spat it out on the turtle's back. He told the young woman to sprinkle the dirt everywhere she walked.
As the young woman walked round the turtle's back, she planted the corn, beans and squash everywhere she went. However, the woman was lonely. One day she discovered twin boys. These boys grew very quickly. One of the brothers created all of the living things on earth, including humans. The other brother tried to do the same thing and made monkeys instead. Each brother made different things. The first brother made everything that human beings could use. The other brother made things that would harm the things created by the first brother.The Wendat refer to the woman who fell from the sky as Aataentsic, meaning "ancient one."
The Mi’kmaq Creation Story
The Mi’kmaq Creation Story describes how life began for all things. This process occurred in seven stages or levels of creation and is described as follows:
The sky represents the Giver of Life, Gisoolg, who creates everything. Creation is a mystery that contains everything and is within everything. It is regarded with awe and reflected in all aspects of life, seen and unseen.
The Sun creates life and gives us our Shadows. The shadows reflect the identities,characteristics and spirits of ancestors. The Shadows are the joining of earth, matter, and the blood of human life. The Sun connects the spirit world to the physical world and is represented by the centre direction.
The third level of Creation is on the surface of Mother Earth. In the Mi’kmaq language,several words are directly related to the word for “Earth.” For example, the word for the skin of a drum and the word for the Mi’kmaq people are related to each other and to the Mi’kmaq word for Mother Earth. The beat of a drum is the heartbeat of Mother Earth. The surface skin of Mother Earth gives rise to life, including people, and this is reflected in the word Oosgitjinoo which means “the person who has peeled himself off the surface of the Earth and is standing erect.” Oosgitjinoo is a word used to refer to the Mi’kmaq people.
The first man, Glooscap, is created from a bolt of lightning. The bolt hits the Earth and his body is created on the Earth’s surface. He is lying with his head in the direction of the rising sun and his feet are facing the setting sun. His arms are outstretched to the north and south. When the lightning meets with the elements of the Earth that make up Glooscap’s body, a life force is created. When lightning hits a second time, Glooscap develops fingers and toes, and seven sacred parts to his head (two eyes, two ears, two nosrils and a mouth) appear. At the third bolt of lightning, Glooscap is freed from the surface of the Earth to walk and move about. Glooscap gives thanks to Mother Earth and Grandfather Sun for his creation, and pays his respects to the South, the West, the North and the East directions. Once returning to the east where he was created, Glooscap is visited by an eagle that tells him he will soon be joined by his family to help him understand his place in this world. The eagle drops a feather, which Glooskap catches. This feather gives him strength and serves as a symbol of connection between his people and the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth.
Glooscap meets his Grandmother, who is born from a rock. She teaches him to respect her wisdom and knowledge about the stars, the wind, the seasons and the tides, the characteristics and the behaviour of the plants and animals, and how to make food, clothing and shelter. For their sustenance, Glooscap takes the life of a marten, asking permission of the animal first, and giving thanks to the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth afterwards. Then, using the seven sparks from the bolts of lightning that created Glooscap, and seven pieces of dry wood, cousin Whirlwindis invited to
create the Great Spirit Fire. Grandmother and Glooscap then feast to celebrate Grandmother’s arrival into the world.
Glooscap meets a young man who says he is Glooscap’s nephew, a creation of Whirlwind, who passed through the ocean in the direction of the rising sun, causing foam to form and blow ashore. This foam has rolled in sand and picked up rocks and wood and feathers, eventually resting on sweet grass. With the help of the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth, the nephew was created. The nephew offers vision to the future and comes as a gift of the ancestors. Nephew is also a responsibility for Glooscap to guide, since the young turn to the old for direction in life. And just as
Glooscap took the life of the marten for survival, the nephew calls upon the fish to give up their lives. Glooscap gives thanks, apologizing for taking the shadows of the fish and for taking elements of Mother Earth for their own survival. Again they feast, and continue to learn from Grandmother.
Glooscap’s mother appears, coming first as a leaf on a tree that falls to the ground and collects dew. The Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth have made Glooscap’s mother from this dew to bring gifts to her children. These gifts include the colours of the world, understanding and love, so that her children will know how to share and care for one another. Glooscap has his nephew gather food for a feast to celebrate the creation of Glooscap’s mother. Glooscap provides leadership, respecting the teachings of the elders, the vision and strength of the young people, the gifts of the ancestors, and the teachings on how to rely on each other and to respect and care for one another. In this way, they live a good life.