Origin Myths

By November 5, 2017 General Studies

Origin myths tell stories on how something began. “The Earth on Turtle’s Back” told how Earth came to be. How Indians were created were created was told in “When Grizzlies Walked Upright”. Human life and how it started was told in “The Navajo Origin Legend”. Each of these myths are similar in some ways, but they also have their differences. Nature means a lot to Native Americans, and they often reflect that in their myths. This is something each myth had in common, however nature’s importance was portrayed differently in each story.

In “The earth on Turtle’s Back”, animals had a big part in the myth. Birds saved the woman from falling and a duck, beaver, loon, and muskrat helped make Earth on a turtle’s back for her to live on (Earth 22-23). Animals also had a leading role in “When Grizzlies Walked Upright”, but the animal that had that role were Grizzly bears. There were no animals in “The Navajo Origin Legend”, but there were other ways that nature was put across in the myth. The gods in the story used corn, eagle feathers, wind, and buckskins to create mankind (Human life 27-28).

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Gods also have a big role in Native American culture. Like nature, they also mention them or give them the main role in their myths. “There was an ancient chief in the Skyland” (Earth 22). The Sky Chief in “The Earth on Turtle’s Back” didn’t really have that much of a big role in the myth, but he did make the woman’s dream become reality by uprooting the tree whose hole she fell into. The Sky Spirit in “When Grizzlies Walked Upright” created landmarks using his footprints, walking stick, and fingers. He also created the mountain his family and himself lived in.

The Blue Body, Black Body, and White Body were all gods in “The Navajo Origin Legend”. These gods used various parts of nature to create mankind, and they had a very important role, if not main role, in the myth. The women in origin myths are often discriminated and looked down upon. This is something that was in both “The Earth on Turtle’s Back” and “When Grizzlies Walked Upright”, but not in “The Navajo Origin Legend”. “She leaned out further to look and, as she leaned, she lost her balance and fell into the hole” (Earth 22).

The Sky Spirit’s daughter got sucked out of the mountain because she looked over the edge (Grizzlies 25). The woman in each of these myths was given the role of being foolish. The woman in “The Navajo Origin Legend” is different because she was only created and there was not much said about her to judge that she was foolish or not. In conclusion, each origin myth is similar and different in many ways. May it be in the way it portrays nature, the role any god has in the story, or the role the woman has. They are all different, but also have several things in common.


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