An Aboriginal Presence

Our Origins

Origin Stories - Sky Woman

For the Haudenosaunee, the earth was created through the interplay of elements from the sky and waters. The different Iroquoian-speaking peoples tell slightly different versions of the creation story, which begins with Sky Woman falling from the sky.

Kanien'kehaka (Mohawk)
Made By Shelley Niro (1954)
Foam, fiberglass resin, oil paint, canvas and metal
Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2000.129.1.1-10, D2004-11229
Skywoman - 2000.129.1.1-10 - D2004-11229

Long before the world was created, there was an island in the sky inhabited by sky people. One day a pregnant sky woman drops through a hole created by an uprooted tree and begins to fall for what seems like eternity.

Coming out of darkness, she eventually sees oceans. The animals from this world congregate, trying to understand what they see in the sky. A flock of birds is sent to help her. The birds catch her and gently guide her down onto the back of Great Turtle. The water animals like otter and beaver have prepared a place for her on turtle's back. They bring mud from the bottom of the ocean and place it on turtle's back until solid earth begins to form and increase in size.

Turtle's back becomes Sky Woman's home and the plants she's brought down with her from Skyworld, including tobacco and strawberries, are her medicine. She makes a life for herself and becomes the mother of Haudenosaunee life, as we know it today.

Shelley Niro, Kanien'kehaka, 1999
Keller George, Oneida Haudenosaunee, 2001
Alan Brant, Tyendinaga, 2001

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