Friday, December 29, 2006

The Legend of the Turtle

My son Scott gave me the most wonderful turtle gift for Christmas…a beautiful Pendleton wool blanket. Pendleton Woolen Mills studied the beliefs and legends behind the Indian designs of tribes native to Oregon and these inspired the patterns of their woolen blankets. Along with my blanket came a tag with the Native American Turtle Legend. Thank you, Scott, for this gift that will be used and cherished.

The Creation

Before this world came to be, there lived in the Sky-World an ancient chief. In the center of his land grew a beautiful tree which had four white roots stretching to each of the four directions: North, south, East and West. From that beautiful tree, all good things grew.

Then it came to be the beautiful tree was uprooted and the youthful wife of the ancient chief fell through the hole it made in the Sky-World. As she fell, she grabbed a handful of seeds she from the tree.

Far below there was only water and water creatures who looked up as they swam.

Someone comes,” said the duck. “We must make room for her.”

The great turtle swam up from his place in the depths. “There is room on my back,” the great turtle said.

“But there must be early where she can stand,” said the duck, and so he dove beneath the waters, but he could not reach the bottom.

“I shall try,” said the beaver, and he too dove, but could not reach the bottom.

Finally the muskrat tried. He dove as deeply as he could, swimming until his lungs almost burst. With one paw he touched the bottom, and came up with a tiny speck of earth clutched in his paw.

“Place the earth on my back,” the great turtle said, and as they spread the tiny speck of earth it grew larger and larger and larger until it became the whole world.

Then two swans flew up, and between their wings they caught the woman who fell from the sky. They brought her gently down to the earth where she dropped her handful of seeds from the Sky-World.

It was then the first plants grew and life on the new earth began.


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