There are six different nations to the Iroquois. All six of the nations have a very similar view as to the religious makeup and practices before the European settlers came into their area. After the settlers came, the religious values shifted to incorporate some of the values the Europeans brought over.
The Iroquois original creation myth is very similar in all six of the nations; it does have some slight variations in the story. The main belief is that there were people that lived in the sky before the whole of the earth was created. Below the sky people were oceans and creatures who lived in them.
One day, one of the “sky chiefs” tricked one of his wives into going near the hole in the sky. Once she was standing close enough to the hole, the sky chief kicked or pushed her out of the hole (that is one of the variations that occurs throughout the six nations). As she was plummeting to her death, the sea animals saw this and began to scoop up the dirt from the ocean floor and pile it onto the turtle’s back; the turtle was the one use because of its broad and strong back.
While the sea animals piled the dirt, birds in the sky caught hold of the woman and lowered her down safely once the dirt was finished being placed. The woman, after being safely placed on the ground, gave birth to two children. Depending on which myth you go by, the woman had either two sons or she had a son and a daughter, either way, the children were the ones who built everything on the earth.
Many Native Americans tell stories of the creation of earth that explain how they came to be before the Europeans entered North America. Creation myths vary among all cultures; however, they all have one thing in common; heaven and earth.
One of the most popular creation myths was the Iroquois creation myth. The Iroquois or Haudenosaunee meaning “People of the Longhouse”consists of six Indian nations that include the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora tribes.
In the beginning, there was a belief that before the creation of earth, there were two realms, the sky, and the lower world that consisted of water and water creatures. From the sky, a young woman named the Sky Woman was married to the Sky Chief.
He had a dream that his wife was to “become pregnant from inhaling the breath from her husband but this was unknown to him” The dream disturbed the Sky Chief and began to distrust his wife. A second dream occurred in which the Sky Chief was to uproot the Celestial Tree. He believed this dream to be a powerful message and proceeded to uproot the tree.
The Sky Woman had no idea that the Chief was to punish her for her alleged dishonesty. He coerced her to the large hole and as she looked through the large hole, he pushed her through the hole. As she was falling from the sky, she grabbed pieces of plants growing on the floor of the Sky World as well as a handful of seeds from the branches of the Celestial Tree.