Sacred Texts  Native American  Iroquois 

Iroquoian Cosmology

By J. N. B. Hewitt

[ARBAE 21:127-339]


This is a set of literal translations of three Iroquois creation myths, from the Onondaga, Seneca and Mohawk tribes respectively. The interlinear translations in the original have been omitted for technical reasons. These myths are of great interest for several reasons. The Iroquois Confederation was the dominant culture group in the northeastern region at the time of European contact, and as such has maintained its traditions in a fairly intact state. There are minor infiltrations of Biblical elements in the narrative, which are, however, easy to recognize.

The Iroquois had a matrilinear culture in which men and women shared power, which is reflected in this myth by the strong participation of female demi-gods in the creation. The translation is by an experienced anthropologist writing for an academic audience and so it is almost completely free of the sentimentality and prudishness that infected other contemporary books about Native American mythology and folklore.

John Bruno Hare, June 23, 2004

Title Page
An Onondaga Version
A Seneca Version
A Mohawk Version