Possible Discussion question(s):
Compare and contrast this "Emergence" narrative (in which
humanity rises from an underworld to the daylight) to the Iroquois "Earth Diver"
stories, in which humanity falls from the sky to the earth below.
The Beginning of
Zuni (New Mexico)
 Before the beginning of the New-making,
the All-father Father alone had being. Through ages there was nothing else
except black darkness. [light-dark may recall
Genesis or earth's day-night cycle]
 In the beginning of the New-making,
the All-father Father thought outward in
space, and mists were created and up-lifted. Thus through his knowledge he
himself the Sun who was thus created and is the great Father. The dark spaces
brightened with light. The cloud mists thickened and became water.
 From his flesh, the Sun-father created the Seed-stuff of worlds, and he himself
rested upon the waters. And these two, the Four-fold-containing
Earth-mother and the All-covering
Sky-father, the surpassing beings,
with power of changing their forms
even as smoke changes in the wind, were the father and mother of the soul beings
[their children incl. people & others].
 Then as man and woman spoke these two together. "Behold!" said
Earth-mother, as a great terraced bowl appeared at hand, and within it water,
"This shall be the home of my tiny children. On the rim of each world-country in
which they wander, terraced mountains shall stand, making in one region many
mountains by which one country shall be known from another."
 Then she spat on the water and
struck it and stirred it with her fingers. Foam gathered about the terraced rim,
mounting higher and higher. Then with her warm breath she blew across the
terraces. White flecks of foam broke away and floated over the water. But the
cold breath of Sky-father shattered the foam and it fell downward in fine mist
[<spiritual version of water cycle>]
 Then Earth-mother spoke: "Even so shall white clouds float up from the great
waters at the borders of the world, and clustering about the mountain terraces
of the horizon, shall be broken and hardened by thy cold. Then will they shed
downward, in rain-spray, the water of life, even into the hollow places of my
lap. For in my lap shall nestle our children
metaphor after "Earth-mother"], man-kind and creature-kind, for
warmth in thy coldness."
 So even now the trees on high mountains near the clouds and Sky-father, crouch
low toward Earth mother for warmth and protection. Warm is Earth-mother, cold
 Then Sky-father said, "Even so. Yet I, too, will be helpful to our children."
Then he spread his hand out with the palm downward and into all the wrinkles of
his hand he set the semblance
of shining yellow corn-grains; in the dark of the
early world-dawn they gleamed like sparks of fire.
 "See," he said, pointing to the seven grains between his thumb and four fingers,
"our children shall be guided by these when the Sun-father is not near and thy
terraces are as darkness itself. Then shall our children be guided by
lights." So Sky-father created the stars. Then he said, "And even as these
grains gleam up from the water, so shall seed grain like them spring up from the
earth when touched by water, to nourish our children." And thus they created the
seed-corn. And in many other ways they devised for their children, the
 But the first children
[people], in a
cave of the earth, were unfinished. [<They
haven’t yet “emerged” because they are not “finished” transforming or evolving]
The cave was of sooty blackness, black as a chimney at night time, and
foul. Loud became their murmurings and lamentations, until
many sought to
escape, growing wiser and more man-like.
 But the earth was not then as
we now see it. Then Sun-father sent down two sons (sons also of the Foam-cap),
the Beloved Twain
[two of a kind], Twin Brothers of Light, yet Elder and Younger, the
Right and the Left, like to question and answer in deciding and doing. To
them the Sun-father imparted his own wisdom. . . . Then the Beloved Twain
[two or twins], with
their great cloud-bow lifted the Sky-father into the vault of the skies, that
the earth might become warm and fitter for men and creatures. Then along the
sun-seeking trail, they sped to the mountains westward.
With magic knives
they spread open the depths of the mountain and uncovered the cave in which
dwelt the unfinished men and creatures. So they dwelt with men, learning to know
them, and seeking to lead them out.
 Now there were
growing things in the depths, like grasses and vines. So
the Beloved Twain [twins] breathed on the stems, growing tall toward the light as grass
is wont to do, making them stronger, and twisting them upward until they
formed a great ladder by which men and creatures ascended to a second cave.
 Up the ladder into the second
cave-world, men and the beings crowded, following closely the Two Little but
[the twins]. Yet many fell back
and were lost in the darkness. They peopled the under-world from which they
escaped in after time, amid terrible earth shakings.
 In this
second cave it was as dark as the night of a stormy season, but
larger of space and higher. Here again men and the beings increased, and
their complainings grew loud. So the Twain again increased the growth of the
ladder, and again led men upward, not all at once, but in six bands, to
become the fathers of the six kinds of men, the yellow, the tawny gray, the red,
the white, the black, and the mingled. And this time also many were lost or
left behind. [formation of races and
 Now the third great cave was larger and lighter, like a valley in starlight.
And again they increased in number. And again the Two led them out into a fourth
cave. Here it was light like dawning, and men began to perceive and to learn
variously, according to their natures, wherefore the Twain taught them first
to seek the Sun-father.
 Then as the last cave became filled and men learned to understand, the Two led
them forth again into the great upper world, which is the World of Knowing
Anasazi / Navajo
Creation Story in Sand Painting
for Craig White's
Not a critical or
scholarly text but a reading text for a seminar
Changes may include paragraph
spelling updates, bracketed annotations, &
(marked by ellipses . . . )