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The Powers Above
Even greater than the Wind Giant is the Thunderer, whom the Iroquois deemed to be the guardian of the Heavens, armed with a mighty bow and flaming arrows, hater and destroyer of all things noxious, and especially to be revered as having slain the great Serpent of the waters, which was devouring mankind.
The Powers Below
As there are Powers above so are there Powers below. Earth herself is the eldest and most potent of these. Nokomis, Grandmother, is her Algonquian name, but the Iroquois address her as Eithinoha, Our Mother; for, they say, the earth is living matter, and the tender plantlet of the bean and the sprouting germ of the corn nestling therein receive through their delicate rootlets the life substance from the Earth.
The Elders Of The Kinds
Savages, and perhaps all people who live near to Nature, are first and inevitably Heracliteans: for them, as for the Greek philosopher, all things flow, the sensible world is a world of perpetual mutation; bodies, animate and inanimate, are but temporary manifestations — outward shadows of the multitude of shape-shifting Powers which govern the spectacle from behind the scene.
Iroquoian Cosmogony
THE Onondaga version of the genesis-myth of the Iroquois, as recorded by Hewitt, begins in this fashion: He who was my grandfather was wont to relate that, verily, he had heard the legend as it was customarily told by five generations of grandsires, and this is what he himself was in the habit of telling.
Algonquian Cosmogony
As compared with the Iroquoian cosmogony, that of the Algonquian tribes is nebulous and confused: their gods are less anthropomorphic, more prone to animal form; the order of events is not so clearly defined.
The Deluge
The second of these episodes of the Potawatomi legend, in its more universal form, is the tale identified by the Jesuit Fathers as a reminiscence of the Biblical Deluge.
The Slaying Of The Dragon
The deeds of the Great Hare include many contests with the giants, cannibals, and witches who people Algonquian folk-tales. In these he displays adept powers as a trickster and master of wile, as well as a stout warrior.
The Theft Of Fire
The conquest of fire by man deservedly ranks among the most impressive of all race-memories, for perhaps no one natural agency has done so much to exalt the potency of the human race as has that which gives us heat and light and power.
Sun Myths
The Old Man and the Maids from whom Manabush steals the fire belong to the Wabanunaqsiwok, the Dawn-People, who dress in red; and, should a man or a woman dream of the Dawn-People, he or she must forthwith prepare a ball game.
The Village Of Souls
In both Algonquian and Iroquoian myth the path to the Village of Souls is guarded by dread watchers, ready to cast into the abyss beneath those whose wickedness has given them into the power of these guardians — for this path they find in the Milky Way, whose Indian name is the Pathway of Souls.
Tales recounting the deeds of Manabozho, collected and published by Schoolcraft, as the myth of Hiawatha, were the primary materials from which Longfellow drew for his Song of Hiawatha.
The Gulf Region - Tribes And Lands
THE states bordering the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico — the "Cotton Belt" — form a thoroughly characteristic physiographic region. Low-lying and deeply alluvial, abundantly watered both by rains and streams, and blessed with a warm, equable climate, this district is the natural support of a teeming life.
The New Maize
The most famous and interesting ceremony of the Muskhogean tribes is that which has come to be known in English as the Busk (a corruption of the Creek puskita, meaning fast). This was a celebration at the time of the first maturing of the maize, in July or August, according to locality, though it had the deeper significance of a New Year's feast, and hence of the rejuvenation of all life.
The Gulf States, representing a region into which tribes from both the north and the west had pressed, naturally show diverse and contradictory conceptions, even among neighbouring tribes. Perhaps most interesting is the contrast of cosmogonic ideas.
Animal Stories
To the most primitive stratum of myth belong those tales of the beginnings of things which have to do, not with the source of the world — for the idea that man's habitat is itself a single being, with beginning and end, is neither a simple nor a very primitive concept — but which recount the origins of animal traits.
Tricksters And Wonder-Folk
The telling of animal stories leads naturally to the formation of groups of tales in which certain animals assume constant and characteristic rτles, and attain to the rank of mythic beings.
Mythic History
Tribes, such as the Cherokee, Creek, and allied nations, with settled towns and elaborate institutions are certain to show some development of the historical sense. It is true that the Cherokee have no such wealth of historic tradition as have their northern cousins, the peoples of the Iroquois Confederacy; but at the same time they possess a considerable lore dealing with their past.
The Great Plains - Tribal Stocks
THE broad physiographical divisions of the North American continent are longitudinal. The region bounded on the east by the Atlantic seaboard extends westward to parallel mountain ranges which slope away on the north into the Labrador peninsula and Hudson's Bay, and to the south into the peninsula of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
An Athapascan Pantheon
Of all the great stocks of the Plains the Athapascan tribes (with the exception of the Navaho) show the least native advancement. The northern Athapascans, or Tinne tribes, in particular, while good hunters and traders, are far from war-like, even in self-defence, and their arts are inferior to the general level of the Plains peoples.
The Great Gods Of The Plains
On the plains there is a majestic completeness of almost every view of earth and sky. There are no valley walls to narrow the horizon; there are no forests to house men from the heavens. The circle of the horizon is complete and whole, and the dome of the sky, where the rainbow forms frequently in perfect arc, is vast and undiminished.
The Life Of The World
It has recently been much the custom of writers dealing with Indian beliefs to assert that the conception of a Great Spirit or Great Mystery is imported by white teachers, that the untutored Indian knows no such being; the universality of the earlier tradition as to the native existence of this idea is regarded as of little consequence, almost as a studied misinterpretation.
To make the impersonal and pervasive life of nature more particularly his own, the Indian seeks his personal medicine — half talisman, half symbol. Usually the medicine is revealed in a fast-induced vision, or in a dream, or in a religious initiation.
Father Sun
Shakuru, the Sun, is the first of the visible powers, said the Pawnee priest, quoted above. It is very potent; it gives man health, vitality, and strength. Because of its power to make things grow, Shakuru is sometimes spoken of as atius, `father.' The Sun comes direct from the mighty power above; that gives it its great potency.
Mother Earth And Daughter Corn
H'Uraru, the Earth, said the Pawnee priest, is very near to man; we speak of her as Atira, Mother, because she brings forth. From the Earth we get our food; we lie down on her; we live and walk on her; we could not exist without her, as we could not breathe without Hoturu, the Winds, or grow without Shakuru, the Sun.
The Morning Star
After the Sun the most important of the celestial divinities among the Plains tribes is the Morning Star (Venus).
The Gods Of The Elements
The typical dwelling of the Plains folk, whether tipi or earth lodge, is circular in ground-plan, and, similarly, tribal encampments, especially for religious or ceremonial purposes, were round in form. On such occasions the entrance to the lodge faced the east, which was always the theoretic orientation of the camp.
Anthapascan Cosmogonies
Even among the remote Athapascans of the north cosmogonic myths are of diverse source. It is supposed that these Indians came originally from the northwest, and it is, therefore, no matter of wonder that they know and tell legends of the demiurgic Raven which form the characteristic cosmogony of the Pacific Coast tribes.
Caddoan Cosmogonies
Of the Caddoan stock the northerly Arikara were in close association with the Hidatsa and the Mandan. Among them it is natural to find again the story of the demiurgic pair — Wolf and Lucky Man, as they name these heroes; but the Arikara also have stories belonging to their own southerly origin, especially legends of Mother Corn, the great goddess of all the Caddoan tribes.
The Son Of The Sun
The Iroquoian cosmogonic tale of the Titaness who is cast down from heaven to the waters of primeval chaos is a part of this mythic cycle, but it does not tell of the previous ascent of the woman into the sky-world. The beautiful and poetic Blackfoot tale of Poia, the son of the girl who married the Morning Star, is a more complete version of the myth.
The Mystery Of Death
Why men die is a problem no less mysterious to the human mind than is the coming of life. One account of the origin of death, common to a number of Plains tribes, makes it the consequence of an unfavourable chance at the beginning of the world.
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