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What is the Haudenosaunee Concept of
History begins with Creation. There are several versions of the Creation story. This is one of them:
Our world began with the creation of the earth, which is seen as the horizontal plane that separates the world above from the world below. In the Sky-World lived a fellow named "The Sky Holder." Next to his lodge was the Great Tree of Light, for which he was the caretaker. The flowers of this tree gave off bright light. His wife, named "Mature Flowers," fell through a hole created when he uprooted that tree at her urging. She fell into the dark world below, a world of endless water. The water animals decided to save her because she had the power to create life. The birds flew up and caught her in their inter-locked wings. They decided to place her on the back of a giant snapping turtle. The muskrat was the only animal that could dive deep enough to retrieve some mud from the bottom of the sea. The mud was placed on the back of the turtle and it began to grow. As she walked about in an ever-expanding circle, the mud grew into an island. Each day she walked counterclockwise and the island expanded. The Iroquois still dance in that direction to honor the Creation. Seeds fell from her clothing and began to sprout in the fresh earth.
She then gave birth to a daughter who later had many suitors from the male beings who could transform themselves into human form. She selected the being who wore scalloped leggings and a large robe, said to be a turtle-being. He placed two arrows over her body at night, and she became pregnant. She had twins, but died giving birth to the second son, as he was born through her armpit. The Sky Woman buried her daughter and from her body grew the Three Sisters - Corn, Beans and Squash. From her heart grew the tobacco plant which we still use as a way to carry our thought to the Sky World. The deceased daughter became known as Earth-Mother.
The good-minded twin was named "He Grasps the Sky With Both Hands," and his evil-minded brother was named "Flint - The Mischievous One." The good-minded brother set about to create plants, animals and birds. In the sky he placed our Grandmother the Moon, our Elder Brother the Sun (Day Bringer), the Morning Star, and the Milky Way as the path to the Sky World. He created the cycles of day and night, of the changing seasons.
His evil-minded brother, in trying to imitate his brother's work, created thistles, thorns, bats, monsters, and serpents, as well as rapids in the rivers, winter in the seasons, and other things that would make life on the new earth difficult for the people that were about to be created. The evil-minded brother fought his good-minded brother for dominance in the newly created world. They played lacrosse to a draw. This is why lacrosse is still played today, as it is a way to manifest the classic struggle of good over evil. They held a wrestling match but were of equal strength. However, the evil-minded one was finally defeated by being struck by a deer antler and banished from the earth. The Universe was divided into two spheres of power. The evil-minded one was sent underground, where he would rule over the serpents and powers of the deep. He would also have dominion over the night. The good-minded brother would be responsible for life on earth and have dominion over the day. Forever, the two brothers would be opposing powers of our universe and the idea od duality is introduced.
The grandmother had favored Flint and tried to have him return to the earth, but she lost her authority to the good-minded twin after losing a dice game. That game is still played in the ceremonies today, again as a way to relive the events from the time of creation and teach us to take both success and failure in stride.
The good-minded one then went about creating many things in the new world. First he took yellowish bark from a tree and created the Asian people. He then took the foam from the great salt sea and created the Caucasian people. He created African people from the rich, black soil. The good- minded one created a man that he named "Sapling" and a woman he named "Growing Flower," from the reddish clay. He breathed life into them. But all the races began to fight over a shinny object and had to be sent to four different quarters of the world, each in their own land. The basic element of four is introduced into our world view.
The good-minded brother taught the people the use of the plants and animals, ceremonies of thanksgiving and to live in harmony and peace. We have come to refer to him as Sonkwaiatison, "the Creator." Before departing from the earth, he struck a deal with the people. We are to protect his gifts of Creation and be respectful of all living things, and were to simply be thankful for all that he has provided, as he has given us all that we need to live a happy life. In return for showing thanks, he would strive to keep the cycles of life continuing for the benefit of the people.
reprinted from the Six Nations Web site