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Native American Origin Myths

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Prior to the Pilgrims arrival in the Americas in the 15th century, the Americas were inhabited by many Native American Tribes long before. It is estimated that their arrival in the Americas may "have been as recently as 12,000 years ago or as long ago as 70,000 years."(2) Assuming the shorter estimate, the Native Americans would still "have been on the continent 30 times longer than the Europeans."(2) During this time each Native American tribe developed their own rich and extensive cultures, each with their own sets of beliefs and myths, particular to that tribe. One noteworthy attribute that is shared by almost every Native American tribe is the existence of a Creation story that is part of their folklore. The prevalence of Creation and Origin Myths make them the perfect model to use to compare and contrast the different Native American tribes' cultures. I will use this common attribute to demonstrate the similarities and differences between the Native American Tribes in relation to their beliefs concerning the Creation of the Almighty Power, the relationship between man and this Almighty power, and Man's oneness and reliance on nature as illustrated by their Origin Myths. The origin myths I will be focusing on are the Delaware tribe's, The Walum Olum and the Navaho Tribe's, The Navaho Origin Legend.

Both literary works, The Walum Olum and The Navaho Origin Legend, share the existence of an Almighty Power. All Native American tribes believe in the existence these nature spirits, called, by the Algonquian people, Manito.(21) The American Experience tells us that Manitos came in many different forms and each had a different amount of influence on nature.(21) Lines 1-3 of The Walum Olum states:

"At first in that place, at all times above the Earth,

On the Earth was an extended fog, and there the great Manito was.

At first, forever, lost in space, everywhere, the Great Manito was."(22)

This tells the reader that the Delaware people believed in the existence of a "Great Manito" and that this Manito existed as an omnipresent being on an empty earth. This contrasts with The Navaho Origin Legend which tells of the existence of four great god



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