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The Winnebago Origin Myth

In the beginning Earthmaker was sitting in space. When he came to consciousness, nothing was there anywhere. He began to think of what he should do, and finally he began to cry and tears flowed from his eyes and fell below him. After a while he looked below him and saw something bright. The bright object below him represented his tears. As they fell they formed the present waters. When the tears flowed they became the seas as they are now. Earthmaker began to think again. He thought, "It is thus: If I wish anything it will become as I wish, just as my tears have become seas." Thus he thought. So he wished for light and it became light. Then he thought: "It is as I thought, the things that I have wished for have come into existence as I desired." Then again he thought and wished for the earth, and the earth cam into existence. Earthmaker looked at the earth and he liked it; but it was not quiet. It moved about as do the waters of the seas. Then he made the trees and he liked them but they did not make the earth quiet. Then he made some grass but it likewise did not cause the earth to become quiet. Then he made rocks and stones but still the earth was not quiet. It was however almost quiet. Then he made the four directions and the four winds. At the four corners of the earth he placed them as great and powerful people, to act as island weights. Yet still the earth was not quiet. Then he made four large beings and threw them down towards the earth, and they pierced through the earth with their heads eastward. They were snakes. Then the earth became very still and quiet. Then he looked at the earth and he liked it.

Then again he thought of how it was that things came into being just as he desired. Then for the first time he began to talk and he said, "As things are just as I wish them I shall make a being in my own likeness." So he took a piece of clay and made it like himself. Then he talked to what he had created but it did not answer. He looked at it and saw that it had no mind or thought. So he made a mind for it. Again he talked to it but it did not answer. So he looked at it again and saw that it had no tongue. Then he made it a tongue. Then he spoke to it but still it did not answer. He looked at it and saw that it had no soul. So he made it a soul. Then he talked to it again and it very nearly said something, but it could not make itself intelligible. So Earthmaker breathed into its mouth and then talked to it and it answered.

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More stories to read:

 Native American creation legends
 Stories about the earth
 Stories about the first people

Learn more about:

 Winnebago mythology
 The Winnebago language
 The Ho-Chunk people



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