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World on the Turtle's Back
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World on the Turtle's Back
world on the turtle's back creation myth
"The World on the Turtle's Back" is a creation story with Iroquois beliefs and values that fufill four purposes of creation myths: instill awe, explain the workings of nature, support and validate social customs, and guide people through living. A creation myth is a story that explains how everything came into existence through the beliefs of one culture.
Instilling awe is one of the purposes of creation myths. It tells how anything in the universe came into existence through supernatural means. A woman falling out of the sky in the beginning of the story would never happen in real life. It adds interest to the story even if it does not make any sense. The right-handed twin cut off his grandmother's head and threw it into the sky is another way to instill awe in the story. Although that is hard to believe that it actually happened in real life, it shows how the Iroquois believe how there is a moon in the sky.
Another purpose of creation myths is explaining the workings of nature. Everything in nature has their roles and are explained as they are important to a certain culture. There were animals such as birds and fish in the story as well as the water muskrat who helped the woman. Animals are a part of nature and important to every culture. There were plants growing form the earth on the turtle's back when the woman planted the root from the Great Tree. There are many different kinds of plants growing around the world.
Supporting and validating customs is another purpose. What happened in the story is being practiced today. The twins played lacrosse when they competed against each other. Lacrosse is a game that people have been playing for many years. When the woman planted the root, she walked in a circle in the direction of the sun. There is a dance based on the woman's movement that can be performed.
The last purpose is guiding people through trials of living. People learned what others have done so they can repeat those actions as parts of their daily lives. The woman planted the root so it can grow into a plant. People grow plants so they can use them for food and medicine. The right-handed twin was born like all other babies but the left-handed twin was born by coming out of his mother's armpit and killing his mother. It is impossible for a baby to be born in more than one way but babies learn to be born normally so they would not kill their mothers and they would be taken care of. Learning mistakes from others teaches everyone not to do those things.
The Iroquois and all the other groups have their own creation myths which are very different from one another. "The World on the Turtle's Back" is an interesting story with some very strange details. But all creation myths have strange things happening which makes them interesting. Everyone chooses to believe whatever they want to believe.
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