Genesis vs. Iroquois Creation Myth Essay

Genesis vs. Iroquois Creation Myth Essay.

All different cultures have their own creation stories, mostly all containing the elements of a Higher Power of some sort, how the power created the world, and the creation a human man. The Christian belief in the Genesis story has these key elements , as does the Iroquois creation myth, The World on the Turtle’s Back. Although these two creation stories share similarities, they also have some stark contrasts. These contrasts include, how the two cultures of the Native American Iroquois tribe and then Christians view life and aspects of good and evil, the way each culture views nature and the impact that has on their culture, and finally the way the Christian God and the Iroquois gods are portrayed to humans.

First, the Iroquois culture and the Christian faith view good and evil very differently, but there is one similarity, both the cultures show that the concept of freewill creates the beginnings of a sort good and evil, a differentiation of two people.

(Iroquois 28; Genesis 3:1-24)

For the differences, the Iroquois myth has the belief that everyone is born with good and evil in them. Whereas, in the Genesis story, man is immaculate and perfect, until the woman is tempted by the serpent and the the man eats also of the forbidden tree, through his wife’s consent. One other difference is that the Iroquois didn’t necessarily believe in a good and evil, but a left and a right as it is put in the myth, and the Left and Right together ruled the days.(Iroquois 29), While in the Genesis story, God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, showing His perfection and that while He is a merciful God, He can also be a God of judgment to show the people the errors of their ways. Additionally, the two cultures view nature very differently and it impacts each individual culture.

The Iroquois culture believes that man and nature are equal as represented in the creation myth. One can find this true as the Native Americans were very respectful of the territories they were inhibiting and developing relations with animals, like the buffalo, instead of hunting them for food. In contrast, in the story of Genesis God gave man dominion over all the creatures of the Earth. (Genesis 1:28) The man to this day, hunts animals of all kinds and disrespects nature, with clear-cutting of forestry and pollution. Finally, the Christian God and the Iroquois gods are viewed differently in the eyes of a standard human. First off, the God of Christianity, is the only God. But, in the Iroquois culture there are multiple gods, who become the elements, and then the Iroquois praise these elements.(Iroquois 30) In Genesis, man is created in the likeness of God,(Genesis 1:27) but in the Iroquois myth man is created by another man.

The Genesis God is thought of as more of a paternal God who loves His children but reprimands them when the children disobey, where the gods of the Iroquois is just revered and respected, no mention of punishment for humans is mentioned in the Iroquois myth. One similarity is the belief that the gods or God dwell in a place above the rest of the world, the Sky-World in Iroquois, or Heaven in the story of Genesis. To conclude, the two stories of The World on the Turtle’s Back and Genesis are very similar but, they also have their individual differences that really separate the two cultures. The way the two cultures view life and aspects of good and evil. The aspect each culture views nature and the impact that has on their culture. Finally, the way the Christian God and the Iroquois gods are portrayed to humans. Two completely different races , but similar beliefs in the development and creation of the planet Earth.

Genesis vs. Iroquois Creation Myth Essay

Iroquois Creation Myth Essay

Iroquois Creation Myth Essay.

The Iroquois creation myth has been around since at least 1142 A. D. in the Iroquois nation in North America, in what is now known as New York, Quebec, and Ontario. While the minor details may change depending on who tells you the story, the main premise remains the same. Each story describes the planet pre-dating humans as an unlimited expanse of water with no land in sight, with the humans inhabited a place in the high-reaches of the sky where the forests were forests were full of game, rivers full of fish, and fields producing vegetables.

The inhabitants of this place were unfamiliar with death, sickness, pain, and the thoughts of hate, jealously, malice, and revenge. (Wonderley 2004, 62) The story tells of a wife – who is usually pregnant – that is pushed down a hole by her husband and falls to what was to become earth. As she falls, the Loon swimming in the water below is alerted to her presence and alerts the other animals that she is approaching.

Knowing that earth was needed for the humans accommodation, the animals chose the turtle to bear the weight of the world on his shell, and animals set off into the depths in order to retrieve the earth for the turtles back.

Eventually, the woman had an island that was continually growing where she could live. She eventually gave birth to twins named Tau-lon-ghy-au-wan-goon and Than-wisk-a-law who represented good and evil, respectively. (Wonderley 2004, 65) As the twins grew, they filled the earth with their creations, while using this as competition. The good twin is often told as giving us plant species and animals that are beneficial, with the bad twin created thorns around the bushes and dangerous animals.

As the competition between the twins grew, the evil twin was killed and thrown off the edge of the earth, where he was to preside over the night and the lower world, while the good twin presided over day and the upper world. One of the more recurring themes in this creation myth is that of animals and nature in general. The sky land is depicted to have much game, fish, and fields full of vegetables – while the mother of the twins was received and accommodated by the animals already inhabiting the water, where the turtle put the earth on his shell.

Animals and nature are further included as their creation is the main source of competition between the twins. The land where people originate in this creation myth is no doubt a depiction of the ideal land for the Iroquois, and the role of nature can be explained by the respect the Iroquois have for the environment – as it is an important part of their way of life. The twins also illustrate the struggle between good and evil, but do so in relative terms rather then absolute terms.

The twins’ relationship is about cooperation through competition, and symbolizes the balance that the Iroquois believe to be necessary for the world to be in balance. Since the twins are believed to be the source of this balance, they are considered the deities within this story, showing the Iroquois hold a being to be greater then themselves. The role of each twin is represented in Iroquois festivities, with day activities being devoted to the good twin, and night activities being devoted to the bad twin.

The Iroquois creation myth can have minor differences depending on who tells it, as the 6 nations making up the Iroquois covered a sizeable amount of land and have quite a history. The Iroquois creation myth gives the Iroquois people a guide for their priorities, with the well being of them and the well being of nature in a being held in balance at the fore front. This idea is still relevant today within Iroquois ceremonies, showing that the creation myth of a whole has been carried with the Iroquois people, at least in a traditional sense.

Iroquois Creation Myth Essay