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Lakota Creation Story

There was another world before this one. But the people of that world did not behave themselves. Displeased, the Great Spirit set out to make a new world. He sang several songs to bring rain, which poured stronger with each song.

As he sang the fourth song, the earth split apart and water gushed up through the many cracks, causing a flood. By the time the rain stopped, all of the people and nearly all of the animals had drowned. Only Kangi - the crow - survived.

Kangi pleaded with the Great Spirit to make him a new place to rest.

So, the Great Spirit decided the time had come to make his new world. From his huge pipe bag, which contained all types of animals and birds, the Great Spirit selected four animals known for their ability to remain under water for a long time.

He sent each in turn to retrieve a lump of mud from beneath the flood waters.

First the loon dove deep into the dark waters, but it was unable to reach the bottom. Ptan, the otter, even with its strong webbed feet also failed. Next, the cpa (beaver) used its large flat tail to propel itself deep under the water, but it too brought nothing back. Finally, the Great Spirit took the kya (turtle) from his pipe bag and urged it to bring back some mud.

Turtle stayed under the water for so long that everyone was sure it had drowned.

Kyea - turtle

Then, with a splash, the turtle broke the water's surface! Mud filled its feet and claws and the cracks between its upper and lower shells.

Singing, the Great Spirit shaped the mud in his hands and spread it on the water, where it was just big enough for himself and the crow. He then shook two long eagle wing feathers over the mud until earth spread wide and varied, overcoming the waters.

Feeling sadness for the dry land, the Great Spirit cried tears that became oceans, streams and lakes. He named the new land “Turtle Continent” in honor of the turtle, which provided the mud that formed the land.

The Great Spirit then took many animals and birds from his great pipe bag and spread them across the earth.

From red, white, black and yellow earth, he made men and women. The Great Spirit gave the people his sacred pipe and told them to live by it. He warned them about the fate of the people who came before them.

He promised all would be well if all living things learned to live in harmony. But, the world would be destroyed again if they made it bad and ugly.


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