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The Turtle Story

Turtle pic borrowed with great appreciation ;-)

Skywoman Descending Great Turtle Island by Arnold Jacobs (Onondaga) Copyrighted 1981.

The Earth on Turtle's Back (Onondaga)

Before the Earth existed, there was only water. In the Clouds was Skyland, where a sacred Great Tree grew. The Great Tree had branches that pointed to the four cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West).

An ancient chief lived in Skyland. His wife was with child and she had a dream that the Great Tree was uprooted. Dreams were very important to the Ancient Chief. The chief and his men tried to pull the tree loose, but the taproot was very deep.

Finally, the Ancient Chief, using all his energy, managed to loosen the soil from around the tree. It was uprooted and laid upon its side. However, the tree left a large hole in Skyland. The chief's wife looked down the hole and saw something glittering like water. She steadied herself on the branches of the Great Tree. However, the branch snapped and broke and she fell down endlessly.

Two Swans saw this women and flew up to help her so as to cushion her fall. They then realized that the woman was not like them...she did not have webbed feet or waterproof feathers. This creature could not live in the water. All the animals decided that she would die if they did not think of a plan to save her.

After much discussion, they decide that she was made to live on Earth. However, the only Earth was at the bottom of the continuous oceans and streams. The Duck, the Beaver, and the Loon all tried to bring Earth from the bottom to the top of the water. They all failed. Then the Muskrat, decided to try. He took on a determined look and went up and down, until finally he loosened some Earth. However, they knew Earth did not float on water, so Turtle volunteered to carry Earth on his back. Muskrat put Earth on Turtle's back, but her paw marks still remain to this day.

After Earth reached Turtle's back, it began to increase in size until it became what we today call Turtle Island (North America). The Swans flew down carrying Sky Woman to her new home. Sky Woman relaxed and opened her hand (that held those leaves and seeds from the Great Tree). The seeds fell to Earth, germinated and many new trees grew on Turtle Island.

Life on Earth had begun. Today Mother Earth provides us with food, air, water, and shelter. Turtle with the Great Tree on his back is the symbol of the Iroquois Nation.(Caduto, Michael J.and Joseph Bruchac,Keepers of the Earth. Golden, CO.: Fulcrum, Inc., 1989)

Thanks to: Iroquois Bear Clan Website

I am, albeit a very small portion, Iroquois.
My Grandmother, Helen Patrell Mosher, was Half Iroquois and the daughter of her full blooded mother Rose Martin Patrell. From what I was told via the family grapevine Rose's father was Chief in the tribe.
I have always been very drawn to this side of my family. Perhaps it is a stretch here but the Indian Root of my family tree is the only traceable one I have. Other than that all we have is basic White Mutt and well there is just nothing interesting there. In fact from what history I did study it's just downright embarrasing being related to the basic white man of the past.