Sacred Narratives (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Sacred narratives, important to tribal identity and reflecting tribal philosophy, tell of such things as the origin of the world, of the people themselves, and of certain ceremonies
The most ancient and sacred narratives are those that recount the origins of the earth and the development of its life forms. Many of these events also incorporate understanding of historical events such as migrations, establishment of clans, or the transition from hunting-gathering to an agricultural economy. Two major creation story themes are the earth-diver story and the emergence myth; these stories explain how the present world of human beings and society came into being, and both are widely distributed over North America.
Earth-diver stories tell of the creation or re-creation of the world. An Ojibwa (Chippewa) story provides an example. The great trickster/hero Wenebojo (or Manibozho) has, by failing to curb his instincts, caused a flood to cover the world; it has left him standing on top of a tree. Wenebojo sends down small animals to bring up a bit of earth, but the first ones fail. Finally, Muskrat floats up dead but with a grain of sand in each paw and in his mouth; Wenebojo breathes life back into Muskrat and then, flinging the grains of sand over the water, creates an island that will become the present world. The previous world was considered to be a different place, one which...
(The entire section is 1087 words.)
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