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Mandan Creation

This version of the legend comes from Katherine Judson's 1914 collection Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.

The Mandans were the People of the Pheasants. They were the first people in the world. At first they lived in the earth. Now, in the dark Earth-land, they had many vines. Then at last one vine grew up through a hole in the Earth-plain, far above their heads. One of their young men at once went up the vine until he came out on the Earth-plain. He came out on the prairies, on the bank of a river, just where the Mandan village now stands.

He looked all about him. The Earth-plain was very beautiful. There were many buffalos there. He killed one with his bow and arrow, and found it was good for food.

Then the young man returned to his people under the ground. He told them all he had seen. They held a council, and then they began to climb up the vine to the Earth-plain. Some of the chiefs, and the young warriors, and many of the women went up. Then came a very fat woman. The chiefs said, "Do not go up." But she did, so the vine broke.

The Mandans were very sorry about this. Because no more could go up, the tribe on the Earth-plain is not very large. And no one could return to his village in the ground. Therefore the Mandans built their village on the banks of the river. But the rest of the people remained underground.

More stories to read:

 Native American creation stories
 Legends about the earth
 Legends about the first people

Learn more about:

 Mandan mythology
 The Mandan language
 The Mandan Indians



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