The Creation Story of three of the Nations of the Haudenosaunee - Part 3
Many people may be familiar with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Creation Story, at least in its short version - Submitted by Kyle Delisle
As the young girl leaves her village carrying on her back a forehead strap basket with the bread inside, she heads east towards the rising sun. She crosses a river where a maple log lies across the river that people use to get to the other side of the river. But before she gets to the river, two man-beings try to stop her. In the Buck version, the first man-being that tries to stop her is Aurora Borealis and the second man-being was Fire Dragon of the Storm. (In the Newhouse version, it only mentions that two male man-beings try to get her to stop and talk to them and in the Gibson version, there is no mention of anyone or anything that tries to stop her.) But she ignores them and keeps on walking, just as her father/uncle told her to do. When she reaches the river, the chief, her future husband, stands there and he tries to get her to stop and rest, but she also ignores him and continues on with her journey. She then crosses the maple log to get across the river and keeps heading east. She eventually reaches the lodge of her future husband. She knows it is the right lodge as her father told her there would be a large tree beside his lodge, and that this tree’s flowers provide light for the people that reside in the area.
The young girl enters the lodge of her soon to be husband, Rarón:tote, and she introduces herself as Iottsi’tsíson (which in Kanien’kéha means “Matured or Blossomed Flower”). She sees that he is laying down on a mat in the room, just as her father told him he would be. She walks up to him with the basket of bread and says that they are to be married and gives him the basket of food. He says nothing but when it is time to sleep, he rolls out a mat at the foot of his mat for her to sleep.
In the morning, Rarón:tote tells Iottsi’tsíson that she has to cook corn and tells her the exact manner in which she has to do it. She takes off all her garments and boils the corn, washes it, pounds it, and stirs it, all the while it is splattering all over her, but she is not allowed to flinch, and she must not show any pain. By the time she is done she is covered in boiling hot mush. Rarón:tote then calls his two slaves into the room. The slaves enter the room, and they are two large white dogs. He tells them to clean the mush from Iottsi’tsíson by licking it off her. This they do, but their tongues are very sharp and wherever they lick her, they cut her, and she bleeds. By the time they are done, Iottsi’tsíson is covered in blood. At this time, she then gets dressed again and puts on her garments.
There are several constellations and other features in the night sky that are tied to this part of the story. The first area that is identifiable in this part of the story is the river that she must cross. The river is represented by the Milky Way. Secondly, the log that she uses to cross the river is the section of the Milky Way known as the Dark Rift. This is a section of the Milky Way that has very few stars and crosses the Milky Way at an angle starting around the constellation Cyngus on the bottom side of the Milky Way and angles towards Ophiuchus and ends just above Aquila.
I believe at this part of the story Rarón:tote is represented by Boötes and Ophiuchus represents the large tree in the story. It is interesting to note a couple of things at this point of the story. The first is that it says that the tree provides the light for this area and the people who live in the vicinity of the tree. The reason that I believe that the tree is represented by Ophiuchus is because Ophiuchus is located right by the brightest region of the Milky Way. Thus, providing the light for those who dwell around the tree. Secondly, in Kanien’kéha, Rarón:tote means “Guardian (male) of the Standing Tree.” Boötes is right beside Ophiuchus and appears to be guarding the tree by looking outwards.
(To be continued)
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