The Earth on Turtle's Back
by the Onondaga

By group one: Nikki, Tyler, Holly, Armoni, Ethan and Tommy
Developed by Tommy
19 November 2013 - English III - Burwell

An Origin Myth

The passage being described is a story map based around what's called an "origin myth", or a fictional story that explains how the world, traditions, and customs came to existence. Described is a tale told by the Onondaga, known as the "People of the Hills", are one of the 5 nations of the Iroquois along with the Seneca, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, and the Tuscarora called the "People of the Longhouse" collectively.

Setting of the Turtle Tale

Where? The Earth on Turtle's back was set in two places at different intervals in the story. The first was in the Skyland, where they was an enormous tree, then there was the Great Ocean where animals lived in the water.

When? This origin myth took place before, and arguably, during the creation of Earth.

Major and Minor Characters of Intrigue

Who? Major characters in this tale include the Sky Woman who fell, the Muskrat who could, and the Great Turtle who was given the weight of the world.

A few of the minor characters would by the Sky Chief who uprooted the tree, the two swans who catch the woman, and the diving animals: the loom, the duck, and a beaver.

Plot of Origins

Why? The Sky Chief's pregnant wife prophesied the uprooting of magnificent Great Tree, so the Chief, who believed this to be a sign of change, tore the tree out from the ground with his own two hands. This did not come with a cost, however. As the Sky Chief's wife leaned over into where the tree was, she slipped. Plummeting down towards the ocean below with nothing but a handful of seeds. The animals, seeing her in distress, decided to help. Two looms snatched her out of the wind on their wings, three brave animals searched for Earth to place on the Great Turtle's back, and one determined animal who managed to do so.

Event 1: The Sky Chief ripped the tree from the ground.
Event 2: Sky Chief's wife fell into the hole into the ocean below. Event 3: Brave creatures of the water dived deep to find earth for the woman to walk upon and eventually succeeded.

The Final Outcome

The last and final outcome of the story is that the Earth we live upon was born on the Great Turtle's back, the Sky Chief's fallen wife delivered her child, and both flora and fauna flourished upon the rich land from the bottom of the ocean.

Works Cited

Bruchac, Joseph. Songs from This Earth on Turtle's Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry. Greenfield Center, NY: Greenfield Review, 1983. Print.

"The World on the Turtle's back." Online image. Deviantart. 18 November 2013 <>

"Muskrat" Online image. MyHusbandIsAnnoying. 18 November 2013 <>

"Free Falling Dream" Online image. Photoshopcreative. 18 November 2013 <>

"Giant Turtle" Online image. Lynx-travel. 18 November 2013 <>

"TurtLady" Online image. StoryTellerTurtleFoot. 18 November 2013 <>

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