Cherokee Creation Myth - Native American Stories
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Cherokee Creation Myth

Atlantic Ocean

Long ago, the earth was just a big island, floating in a bigger ocean. The earth was hanging from four cords coming down from the sky, which was made of solid rock. It was dark all the time and the animals couldn't see where they were going, so they got the sun and set it in a track to go over the island every day, from east to west, as it does now.

georgia owl

Now there were days and there were nights. God told the animals and plants to all stay awake for seven days and seven nights. But most of the animals and plants couldn't do it. They fell asleep. God rewarded the animals who stayed awake and let them see in the dark, so they could go around all night - these were the owls and the panthers.

Georgia pine tree

And God rewarded the plants that had stayed awake, and let them keep their leaves all year - these were the pine trees and laurels and cedars. God told the other trees that they would have to lose their leaves every winter.

Last came people, after all this. But once there were a few people, they had too many children and there were too many people. So the people decided that each woman would have only one child a year.

When the world gets old and worn-out, the people will all die and the cords that hold the earth up will break and let the earth sink down into the ocean, and it will all be water again.

(This is only one version of this story, and there are many others.)

More about the Cherokee
A Chinook Creation Story

Bibliography and further reading about the Cherokee creation myth:

Inuit creation myth
More Native American creation myths
Native American religion
Native Americans
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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