Navajo and Cherokee Creation Storiesby Rit Nosotro
Compare the creation accounts and deduce the underlying cosmology of Navajo and Cherokee Indians.
“In the beginning there was…,” most creation accounts start with this phrase. The reason why is quite simple, because creation was the start of the earth that we live in today. Native American Indians have creation stories are creative, elaborate, and packed full of imagination. The Navajo and Cherokee have drawn up some detailed stories about how they were created, but they still do not have as much supporting evidence as the biblical account of creation. That account is when God created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them.
The Navajo Indians believe that they have traveled through five different worlds to get to the one that we live in today. The first four worlds had no sun. The First World was the place where the first man and first woman were created. This world had four corners and in each corner was a cloud of a different color. The man was formed in the East when the white and black clouds came together. The woman was created when the blue and yellow clouds met in the West. They both made fires from what they were given. Each of them wandered at different times trying to find the other. When the woman found where man lived they decided to be married. Later, animals started to play big roles in the society. Coyotes and ants were created but the world became crowded and they went up to another world.
More animals were created in each world making that world over populated so all the beings in that world would move to a new level. The third world was one which they found much success. It did not last because of the corrupt first woman, who was caught with another man in the house. Then the men and women divided and each went on different sides of the river. When the first woman came back to be with the first man she was still corrupt and plotted to steal the water buffalo’s children. After she had the children stolen, the mother water buffalo was angered and decided to flood the civilization. But the first man managed to get the people out of the third world and into the fourth, but the flood came up the hole along with the mother water buffalo. The mother wanted her children back. The coyote, who had stolen the children for the first woman, made a deal that the mother could have the boy buffalo, but he would keep the female child. The male child he said would bring forth thunder and lightning and the female would make the gentle rain. Then the water sank and the mother left with her male child. The First Man did not like this land because it was barren and had been soaked by the flood. Thus the man planted a big female reed, which reached the roof of the fourth world. After some complication, the group reached the fifth world that we live in today, which the Navajo call the Changeable World.
Some of the Navajo medicine men believe that there are still more worlds out there but we just have not reached them yet. One of those worlds is were the spirits live. The Indians might have originated this creation account due to the travels that they went through to get to the place in which they reside today in Arizona. As time went on the people added different twists to make it sound as if they actually had climbed into each different world.
The Cherokee Indians account is not as extensive as the Navajo’s account. The Cherokee believe that the earth is suspended above a giant sea by chords at all the cardinal points. They think that the animals once lived beyond an arch and they wanted a bigger place to stay so the water beetle volunteered to dive into the sea to see what was under the water. The beetle dove to the bottom and formed an island from mud. The island was raised and suspended, but no one remembers who suspended the earth above the water by four chords. Then the great buzzard went down to see if the land was dry. The myth says that the great buzzard started to get tired and his wings started to hit the muddy surface creating what we know as mountains and valleys. When the earth dried the rest of the animals went down to live there, but there was still no sun. The conjurers conjured up a sun and moved it until it was in the right place. Men came after the plants and animals. A brother and a sister were the first humans. The brother hit the sister with a fish and told her to multiply and she did just that. A baby was born every seven days. However, they were afraid that men were multiplying too fast so from then on women could only have one child a year.
The Cherokee had an interesting way of looking at the way they were created. These people think that some day in the future the chords that hold the earth will break, because it will weigh too much. The Indians in both accounts used animals as how they came to be. The Indian culture worships the animals for what they did in the beginning and throughout the Indian's history. The reason why they might be so loving of the animals is, because they were depended on them as a food source when the traveled across the world.
Another account that is worthy of mention, and is one that millions of people around the world believe. This account is biblical story of creation. In the first book of the bible, Genesis, it starts,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
For six days God created things to put on this earth. Then on the sixth day God created man, Adam, in his own image from dust. Then man named the animals and God thought that man might need a companion, so God created woman, Eve, with one of the man’s ribs. Then on the seventh day God rested and looked upon the splendor that he had created. He let the people live in what is known as the Garden of Eden. This is a place were everything was perfect. There was vegetation everywhere and shelter, but there was an special fruit tree in the middle of the garden. God told them not to eat off the tree, but Eve was corrupted by a snake and bit into the fruit. Then she told Adam to eat and that it was good. Thus God punished them and sent them out of the perfect place into barren land. God said that woman would have pain of child birth, men would have to work for their food, and death will come to all of creation.
This account has some things that are believable and has supporting evidence. There was a creator in this description of creation. This account is the best creation account out there and many scientists have done research that support it. More information to prove this theory can be found in the book, "The Revised and Expanded Answers Book" by Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, and Carl Wieland. Another book that will provide evidence is the Bible. For this book is said by historians to be the most accurate account of history from its time period that can be found on this earth.
All three of these accounts could be the one that is the way that we have came to this earth, but only one has a source of a creator that made everything here and was the first one that was ever recorded. All three have some similar parts to them. The Cherokee story says that man was created the last day of creation. In the biblical account man was created of the last day of creation as well. The Navajo story if it was started at the third world would be the biblical story without a creator. When it is looked at Adam and Eve started in a perfect place and the third world was where the First man wanted to stay, but they were kicked out just like Adam and Eve. Also, they both were kicked out because of a corrupt woman. Then the First man was flooded to barren land. Adam and Eve were also punished by God and sent to the barren lands. Then the Indians might have wandered in the direction of the distant sky trying to find better land. Then they found the place they live today. All the stories could be the right one, but the biblical account has far more evidence then what the Native American Indians believe.
The culture of each is a little different between the tellers of the three different stories. The Indians and Christians both believe that after death we will rise to a heavenly place. The Indians believe we will rise to meet the spirits and Christians believe that we will go to heaven to meet God. Indians also believe that decision of what happens to them is made by all the spirits. Christians believe that God makes all the decisions for everyone and that God has made a plan for everyone’s life, but he allows us to make our own choices in what we do. Indians and Christians have some similar culture views that are just a little different, but the main portion of the view is the same. That is why some of the accounts are similar to that of the biblical creation account.
Mooney, James. “Myths of Cherokee-How Was the World Made.” Scared-Texts.
January and February 2001. 6 Jan. 2004.
O’Bryan, Aileen. “The Dine: Origin Myths of the Navajo Indains.”
February 2001. 6 Jan. 2004
Navajo Histroy. Jan 6. 2004. http://www.westernindian.net/navajo_history_culture.htm#History%20of%20the%20Navajo%20Tribe
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