Native American Tales

Remaking the World

Remaking the WorldRemaking the World

Brule Sioux

There was a world before the world we have now, but the people on it did not know how to act like people. The Creating Power said he would bring water forth and drown the world. He brought out his pipe. He would sing three songs that would bring on heavy rains; he would sing a fourth song that would crack open the Earth and cause water to come up from within the Earth. He sang his songs and it was all as he said. Water was everywhere and it covered the Earth. The Creating Power floated on his pipe above it.

One thing had survived though. It was the crow. The crow told the Creating Power that he was getting tired and that he would need a place to land. The Creating Power made four animal which can stay under water for a long time–the loon, the otter, the beaver, and the turtle. The Creating Power wanted the animals to bring up earth from underneath all the water. The loon dove down first, but came up with nothing. The otter dove down second, but came up with nothing. The beaver dove down third, but came up with nothing. The turtle was the fourth to dive. He dove and dove; he was under the water so long that all the rest assumed he was dead. The turtle wasn’t dead though. He finally appeared with earth in his claws. The Creating Power took the Earth and began to pat it out so that there was dry land.

Soon everything was dry land, but the Creating Power decided that it was not good to have land and no water, nor was it good to have water and no land. He wept tears and these tears became the oceans, lakes and rivers. He took clays of different colors, red, white, yellow and black earth to create different people. He also brought many animals out of his bag that spread fourth on the Earth. The people were given language and understanding and told what tribes they belonged to. He told them that the first world had bad creatures, so he had destroyed it by fire. The second world had people who did not know how to act like people, so they were drowned. This was the third world. To the people the Creating Power gave the rainbow as a sign that he would not flood the Earth anymore. If they behaved themselves, the world would never be destroyed again.


This is very much like the flood story in the Bible. The problem with some of the Native American tales is that I don’t know if the stories existed before the coming of the Europeans or if the stories were adopted after the Europeans came. It’s true that many cultures have a flood story, but do all the stories say that the god involved gave the people a rainbow as a sign that he would not flood the Earth anymore?

I find it interesting how the story mentions that the first Earth was destroyed by fire. The first Earth apparently was not peopled either. The Creating Power mentions creatures. Dinosaurs? Who knows? That certainly fits in a way. There were dinosaurs, they sucked, and then god caused a giant meteorite to hit the Earth and kill them all. That’s fiery. If this story were true, we’d be living in the third Earth and if you believed the story of Noah in the Bible, Noah and his family would have been relics from the second Earth. This whole deal opens up a whole interesting set of thoughts. People in the beginning of the Bible used to live a heck of a long time and people now don’t live anywhere near that long. Maybe the people before Noah were a different kind of people, which is a really interesting concept.


The Creating Power destroyed the Earth, or rather the people on it, because they didn’t know how to act like people. He also gave a warning to the new people that they better behave as well. Obviously, our Earth hasn’t been destroyed yet, so maybe we’re still doing a good job of acting like people, or maybe he’s more patient this time around. With all the bad we know about other humans, this leaves me to ask the question–what in the heck were the second-Earth people doing that made them not act like people? What horrendous acts were they performing that made them so much worse than us? We’re pretty bad sometimes. Wars. Genocide. Discrimination. Racism. The list goes on. As bad as we can be, the people before must have been worse, and that’s hardly comprehensible. Maybe they were really awful. Then again, this whole conversation only has relevance if you believe in the idea of god who did actually flood the Earth.

I think acting like people is important. To me, acting like a person means knowing how to treat other people and be reasonable and respectful. That means treating other human beings with respect, but it also means treating animals, plants, and the Earth with respect. It means being reasonable with your usage of things on the Earth, including animals and other people. That may not be how this story meant it, but that’s how I look at it.


As long as we keep acting like people, maybe our Earth will not be destroyed.

Weigh In

What do you think the second-Earth people did that made them not act like people?

What do you think was on the first-Earth?


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