Turtle Island Brothers and Sisters
Acoustic Turtle Island - Creation Story
Music by The Atoll
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The Story of Turtle Island
Traditional Story of Onondaga
(The Earth on Turtle's Back)
This is just one story about Turtle Island. Perhaps you have others you wish to share with us. The following presents an educational opportunity to relate First Nations concepts about our existence and the world around us, especially our deteriorating environment.
Long ago, before the Earth was here, all was water. Many creatures lived in the water, swimming about.
Far above the clouds, there was, however, a land where lived a powerful chief. His wife was going to have a baby. In that Sky land was a great tree with four large roots, stretching out to each of the four sacred directions, and bearing many kinds of fruits and flowers. One night the chief's wife dreamed that
the great tree had been uprooted. The chief perceived that this was a dream of great power, and thus must be fulfilled. With great effort, the tree was uprooted, leaving a large hole in the sky. The chief's wife leaned to look through the hole, but lost her balance and fell. Grasping at the tree as she fell, she only managed to hold onto a handful of seeds. The water creatures
below saw her falling. They realized that she was not a water creature and tried desperately to think of a way to help her.
"I have heard," said one, "that there is earth far below the waters. Perhaps we should try to get some for her to stand upon." One by one the animals tried to dive down far enough to retrieve land, but one by one they failed. Finally brave little muskrat tried one last time.
Deeper and deeper she dove until her little lungs almost burst. Suddenly she found a bit of land. Scooping it up, she frantically swam to the surface. But alas, where to put the land?
Turtle said, "Put it on my back. I will hold up the Land and the Sky Woman."
And so they did. Sky woman landed safely on Turtle's back and was very thankful. She cast the seeds about. The Land became ever so beautiful. Some people call that land "America."
Others call it, in honor of the brave
and faithful Turtle, "Turtle Island."
Why is the turtle an appropriate symbol for the joining of air, earth, and water?
How are earth, air, and water related to each other and to man's survival?
How is Planet Earth like an Island?
Pick out words from the following quote which are used to describe the turtle and the Earth. Discuss the meanings of these words.
"Unhurried and wise, (the turtle) carries the world upon her back. Changeless, the turtle, the wise old turtle, is the symbol of longevity and eternal life. As the primary symbol of the mother, the turtle expresses the belief that Indians have of Mother Earth's renewal."
(From Turtle Island Alphabet)
Identify endangered organisms whose survival directly depends on wise water policies.
Discuss the importance of water to life.
Describe how the usefulness of water to organisms has been decreased by the activities of humans.
Analyze the causes of water pollution.
Design a plan of action to conserve water and improve the quality of available water.
Evaluate the effect of humans on water quality.