A crafty and cunning person, called Wisagatuck, planned to capture a beaver.
He dammed a stream, causing water to flood around the beaver’s lodge. Wisagatuck hoped to surprise the beaver when it was forced to swim out of its home.
After sitting for several hours, Wisagatuck finally spotted the beaver swimming toward him. He raised his spear and waited for the precise moment to strike.
But the beaver spied Wisagatuck with his weapon, and he chanted a spell to make a muskrat bite Wisagatuck. Startled by the sharp pain from the muskrat’s teeth, Wisagatuck jerked his arm, and the spear splashed harmlessly into the water.
Despite escaping injury, the beaver wanted to punish Wisagatuck for trying to kill him. The next morning, Wisagatuck dismantled his dam but was surprised to discover that the water level did not drop.
Instead, it rose higher and higher. This happened because all the beavers in the world were using their magic to make the water rise. Wisagatuck quickly built a raft and invited other animals to take shelter with him.
For two weeks, the water rose, drowning every living thing except for those on the raft. At one point, an impatient muskrat dove into the water to search for land. Sadly, there was no land to be found, and he drowned.
Next, a raven flew into the air, looking for dry ground. He returned to the raft disappointed.
Desperate, Wisagatuck and a wolf chanted spells to make moss grow on their raft. The wolf ran around the outside edge of the raft, causing the moss to magically swell and expand.
He circled the raft until a whole new land had been created on top of the water. But even today, water still seeps through the holes in the raft as rivers. lakes, and springs.
Sky Woman, a 20th-century painting by artist Ernest Smith, depicts the Iroquois creation myth. Above is the land of the gods and spirits, surrounding a giant tree. Below is the watery world of earth at the beginning of time.
Sky Woman, pregnant with humankind, falls to earth, where a turtle rises from the depths of the sea bearing soil for her to land on.