Native American Tales

Emerging Into the Upper World

Emerging Into the Upper WorldEmerging Into the Upper World


There were once two sisters. The Earth existed already, but they were under the ground. They asked the spirit Tsitctinako if they would ever see each other or know each other’s names. Tsitctinako taught them many things. One day they woke up and found two baskets full of gifts. They were from their father, Utc’tsiti. He wanted them to take his gifts up into the light.

First they were to plant four trees. They could not see the seeds in their baskets but Tsitctinake guided them. The seeds sprouted but grew very slowly. The sisters slept for a long time. A pine grew faster than the other trees and made a hole in the surface, that let in light, but it was not big enough for the sisters to go through.

The sisters looked in their baskets and took out the gift of a badger. They told the badger to enlarge the hole so they could fit though it, and in return, it would go with them into the light. They then created the locust and told it to smooth the hole. They told it that it could not go out of the hole, but it did. They asked it three times whether or not it had went out, but each time it said no. They asked it what the Earth was like, and it said it was just laid out flat. They knew it had been disobedient so they cursed the locust and said it could only see the sun for a short time then it had to go back underground.

It was finally time to go out, but Tsitctinako said they had to wait for the sun. The spirit taught them the prayers to say and the songs to sing for worship and for creating the gifts that were in their baskets. They climbed up into the light with the badger and the locust. The spirit told them the four directions and said that their father was up above in the sky. They were then to name one another. One sister was Ia’tik, bringing to life, and the other was Nao’tsiti, more of everything in the basket.

The sisters learned about the sun and how it went down each night and came back up. They learned that their guiding spirit was female. They each chose a nation to belong to. The spirit told them that they must plant corn so they could eat. They did. They also learned how to cook corn and offer cornmeal up each morning as a sacrifice. The sisters soon brought many more creations to life, salt, mice, grass, and other animals were soon created.

Nao’tsiti soon became selfish of the things in her basket and said she was older. Neither knew which was older, but they decided that whichever sister was touched by the sun first the next day was the oldest, but Ia’tik cheated. She had a magpie fly in front of the sun to shield her sister from it. The two sisters became selfish over other things. The spirit told them that they were not to thing about having children. Nao’tsiti went off on her own and the snake told her that if she had a child she would not be so sad. The rainbow would show her how to make a child. She let some rain drops fall on her in a rain and she soon conceived.

Nao’tsiti had two boys. The sisters tried to raise the boys together, but Nao’tsiti didn’t like one of the boys. They decided to separate when the boys were grown. They divided up the things in their baskets and each took a son, who later became their husbands.

Ia’tik went on to create the seasons and the gods. The people multiplied over the Earth, just as it should be.


So the women made the Earth huh? Why not? There are so many religions that subscribe to the idea that there is a great female spirit somewhere, whether it’s Mother Earth, Heavenly Mother, or even the Holy Spirit. Some native societies were ruled by women versus being ruled by men. You didn’t leave your family when you got married if you were a woman, your man came to live with your family and the kids were considered as belonging to your side of the family.

Women definitely seem to be on the more creative side of things. Why can’t two women be part of our creation story? Women tend to be the more creative sex, at least outwardly. It makes sense that a woman could be among our creators.


What happened to the other sister? It seems that Ia’tik made most of our human conventions, but Nao’tsiti just went off somewhere. What were the things in her basket? Did they get created? Were they bad things like sickness and famine?

Neither of the sisters seemed inherently good or bad. They just were, but bad things crept into their life. They began to be selfish. They listened to snakes. Good Lord, if a snake starts talking to you, bad things are probably afoot; we’ve learned this from the Bible, Harry Potter, and now this story. Don’t talk to snakes, people.

We can be good, we can be very good, but as we are fallible, just as the sisters were, we let little things creep into our lives. Maybe we thought a jealous thought. Maybe we momentarily wanted to strangle someone. Maybe we told a lie. Then we have to realize that we did that bad things and repent. If we are not on constant vigilance with our morality, we slip. These sisters slipped, a bit, in their obedience to their worship practices and harkening to their father’s words. Ultimately, they ended up living apart and having sex with their sons because they let a few bad things into their lives.

This myth has probably been touched by Christianity and as a result we have native lessons and Christian lessons mixing.


Don’t talk to snakes.

Weigh In

What do you think about the idea of a female creator?

Do you think the sisters may have possibly made-up at some point?


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