Sky Woman: The Haudenosaunee Creation Story

This story is from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) oral tradition.

Lesson Points:
2308 Plays


  1. The first people were the Sky People.
  2. One day, the chief's daughter became ill. No one could cure her sickness. Yours' He's His' Her's And Mine's!
  3. An elder said the people should dig up a tree. Then they should put the girl beside the hole.
  4. As the people dug up the tree, the tree suddenly fell down through the hole and dragged the chief’s daughter with it!
  5. As the girl fell, she saw only water below.
  6. The girl landed on the back of a large turtle.
  7. All the animals of the earth gathered.
  8. Great Turtle said the girl was a symbol of good fortune.
  9. Great Turtle asked the animals to find the tree where it had fallen into the water. He wanted the earth from the tree’s roots.
  10. Otter, Muskrat, and Beaver dove in search of the tree. They came back without the tree.
  11. Then an elder woman toad volunteered.
  12. Elder Woman Toad dove into the water and remained below for a long time.
  13. Finally, Elder Woman Toad surfaced. She spit a mouthful of dirt onto the back of Great Turtle.
  14. This earth was magical. It contained the power of growth.
  15. The island grew until it was large enough for Sky Woman to live on.
  16. However, the world was still dark.
  17. Great Turtle called for the animals to gather once again. They decided to put light in the sky.
  18. A little turtle volunteered to climb into the sky with the help of the other animals’ magic.
  19. Little Turtle climbed into a black cloud and crawled around the sky, collecting lightning as she went.
  20. Little Turtle made two balls from the lightning and threw them into the sky.
  21. The first ball became the sun. The second ball became the moon.
  22. Great Turtle asked Chipmunk, Badger, Mole, and Shrew to make holes in the corners of the sky.
  23. Sun and Moon went down one hole and climbed up through the other as they circled Turtle Island.
  24. Then there was day and night.
  25. Sky Woman lived on the island on top of Great Turtle’s back.
  26. She gave birth to twins – one good, one evil.
  27. From Sky Woman grows three sisters: corn, beans, and squash.