Earth Bearer

The creation myth of the Iroquois, which inspired this series, begins with the lower world of darkness and water and the upper world where the Great Ruler and his family lived in brightness. The Great Ruler’s daughter, Atahensic, was preparing to give birth; she was wrapped in a beam of light and laid down but soon began to sink. The water creatures in the lower world worked to find a resting place for Atahensic because she would otherwise destroy them upon her descent. The Turtle bore the immense weight of the oeh-da, a strong earth from the depths of the water, on his back to form Atahensic’s resting place. The Turtle became known as the Earth Bearer because of this. Atahensic gave birth to twins named Hahgwehdiyu, Good Mind, and Hahgwehdaetgah, Bad Mind. The well-intentioned Hahgwehdiyu wanted to spread beauty, while Hahgwehdaetgah wanted to spread evil and destruction. Hahgwehdiyu created the Real People, Eagwehowe, out of dust; Hahgwehdaetgah used clay to build what he thought would be a stronger race, but they turned into apes when he attempted to breathe life into them. Hahgwehdaetgah’s failure angered him so much that he challenged his brother to a battle to the death. Hahgwehdiyu used a stag horn to defeat his evil brother after two days of fighting. He became the supreme ruler of the land, banished Hahgwehdaetgah, and resumed creating beauty in the world.

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© Kristen Grzeca