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Legendary Native American Figures: The Twin Gods

Name: The Twin Gods
Tribal affiliation: Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Huron, Tuscarora
Native names: Dehadikeh, Do-ya-da-no, Degnikhenh, Tikea, Tatikeah, Takeeh
Also known as: Sapling and Flint, Good Spirit and Bad Spirit, Good Mind and Bad Mind, Right-Handed Twin and Left-Handed Twin
Type: Culture heroes, Native American gods, mythical twins
Related figures in other tribes: Twin Heroes (Plains Tribes), Monster Slaying Twins (Navajo)

In Iroquois mythology, the Twin Gods are the grandsons (or in some versions, the sons) of the goddess Sky Woman.

In some Iroquois traditions, the twins personified good and evil: the good twin was born normally, helped the people, and brought good things to the world, while the bad twin burst through his mother's side and killed her, harmed the people, and brought dangerous and destructive things to the world. In some versions of this myth, the wicked twin was an adept liar and manipulated his grandmother into blaming his good brother for his own misdeeds. The two brothers coexisted for a while, each making their own changes to the world. In the end, though, the Twin Gods fought each other, and the good brother prevailed, imprisoning the evil one underground.

In other Iroquois traditions, the Twin Gods are not considered "good" and "evil" at all but instead represent day and night, summer and winter, and life and death. In some versions of that tradition, Flint is a trickster figure rather than a villain, and the brothers' relationship is one of rivalry rather than enmity.

According to some stories the Twin Gods created humankind together, explaining why people can have both good and evil natures and behave in both creative and destructive ways. In other stories Sapling/Good Spirit alone was the creator of humans, while Flint/Bad Spirit was the god of death.

Twin God Stories

* Three versions of the Iroquois Creation Story:
    A comparison of three Iroquois myths about the birth of the Twin Gods.
*The Birth of Good and Evil:
    Oneida myth about Sky Woman's twin grandchildren.
*Iroquoian Cosmogony:
    The Onondaga creation myth and the rivalry of the Twin Gods.
*The Creation:
    Cayuga myth about Sky Woman and her twin sons Good Spirit and Bad Spirit.
*Seek Your Father:
    Seneca legend about the Good-Minded and Bad-Minded Twins.

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Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

The Oneida Creation Story:
    Several versions of the Oneida myth of creation.
Legends of the Iroquois:
    Legends and traditional stories told by a Mohawk elder.
The Woman Who Fell from the Sky:
    Children's picture book telling the story of Sky Woman and her twin sons.
Iroquois Indian Myths And Legends:
    Collection of legends from the Cayuga, Oneida and other Iroquois tribes.
Legends, Traditions and Laws of the Iroquois:
    Collection of Iroquois legends and oral history told by a Tuscarora chief.
Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth, And History:
    Book of Oneida legends and oral history.

Additional Resources

 People of the Longhouse
 Iroquois mythology
 Iroquois Confederacy
 Iroquois languages
 New York Native tribes
 Northeastern Native Americans



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