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Native American Heritage Month: Sharing Tribe Creation Stories

ANAS Meeting

ANAS Meeting | Photo by Brett Hull | The Wright State Guardian

On Nov. 16, three Wright State University (WSU) members of Association of Native American Students (ANAS) held a panel discussing the creation stories of their tribes. 

The importance of creation stories

As part of Native American Heritage Month, ANAS held this event to educate the WSU community. 

“It was a good way for us to try and indicate and present the diversity of culture and mythology of various tribes because Ben, Ryan and I are from very different peoples. And I think Native Americans tend to get blended a lot into one monoculture. So we wanted to present three wholly unique creation stories,” Cameron Hendrix, ANAS president, said

The panel began with a land acknowledgment, which recognizes and respects indigenous people as the traditional stewards of the land. It recognizes the relationship between indigenous people and traditional territories. 

“Acknowledging the land is indigenous protocol. So the land acknowledgment is that we hold great respect for the land and original peoples of the areas from where we are physically situated,” Kevin Huang, Intercultural Specialist for the Asian & Native American Center, said. 

Three ANAS members spoke at the panel: Cameron Hendrix, Ben Osborne and Ryan Diaz. 

Inuit creation story

ANAS treasurer Osborne started by telling the creation story of his tribe, the Inuit.

“My Aka told me that eons ago, the Earth was just water, and then rocks fell from the sky,” Osborne said. 

At the same time, there was a raven deity who was lonely and wanted to create a companion. 

However, the being raven created was evil. Later, the raven met a sparrow and they formed a strong friendship. 

One day while they were flying around, the sparrow fell into an abyss and saw the development of humans. Raven went down to find the sparrow and also discovered humans, and decided to teach them how to hunt, fish and make shelter. 

Apache creation story

The next creation story was told by ANAS Vice President Ryan Diaz, a descendant of the Mescalero Apache.

Mountains are sacred to the Mescalero, especially the Sierra Blanca or White Mountain, Guadalupe, Three Sisters Mountain and Obscura Mountain Peak.

“The White Mountain is the most important mountain to the Mescalero people, as it’s where the Mescalero way of life began. The chief deity in Mescalero religion would be the white painted woman,” Diaz said.

She gave birth to two children, child of water and killer of enemies. Both were feared by the monsters inhabiting the earth at that time, so white painted woman trained her children to be capable warriors. 

When they became adults, they killed all the monsters, allowing humans to live in the mountains. 

Muskogee creation story

Finally, Hendrix spoke about the Muskogee Creek tribe’s creation story.

According to the Muskogee, before anything existed, humanity existed as clay. Eventually, the great creator infused humanity with energy but they still were not quite humans. 

Humanity eventually comes across a second world where there is only the ocean. Unable to continue forward, they are only able to continue when the turtle spirit finds humanity and offers them to ride on his back. 

They continue traveling across a third and fourth world until finally arriving at the fifth, which is modern day. 

After the final story, Hendrix spoke about the importance of sharing them. 

“When you’re hearing these creation stories, you might think that these sound a bit silly, pseudo-scientific stuff like that. But there is no difference for us between real history and spirituality. These stories help identify what we as Native Americans view of the world and how we identify with ourselves and how we treat the earth,” Hendrix said.

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