Mythology: Creation in the Americas

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

A look at creation legends throughout the Americas.
— Orly


In the Mexico of the Aztecs the sun was held to be the cause of all material force, and the gods the holders of the fluctuating fortunes of man. The sun, like man himself, was considered dependent upon food and drink; and according to Aztec cosmology several suns had perished through lack of provision, as had older races of men. The original sun had no other nourishment than the water it absorbed from the earth, and was thus nothing but a semi-liquid mass, designated Atonatiuh, the 'Water-Sun.' It was supposed to have absorbed enormous quantities during the course of centuries, and ultimately discharged the whole over the world, causing a complete destruction of animal and vegetable life. The Water-Sun was sometimes identified with Tlaloc, the god of moisture, but this is a comparatively recent addition to the popular account. The general destruction of terrestrial life by elementary physical forces was accompanied in Mexican belief by myths of other great catastrophes wrought by earthquake, wind-storms, or fire, and a tale of the collapse of the vault of heaven itself.  These holocausts were traced to some defect in the sun. Other accounts relate that the gods Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, and Xiuhtecutli each attempted the rôle of the god of day without success. At length it became evident that a special god must be created for the express purpose of fulfilling the functions of the office, so the existing sun was brought into being. However the Mexican myths may vary according to the method by which the creation of the sun was achieved authorities agree on these points of Aztec belief. The luminary was an animal which was originally a man, but, by the action of fire, became transformed, and received the intense vitality necessary for the performance of his functions from the blood of the gods, voluntarily shed for that purpose. The gods met at Teotihuacan in order to make a sun. They kindled a mighty fire, and signified to the worshippers that whosoever should first leap into it should become the new sun personified. One of them sacrificed himself by doing so; and arose as the sun from the midst of the fire, but was unable to ascend into the sky for lack of strength. In order to give him the necessary motive force the gods resolved to sacrifice themselves in the usual Mexican manner, by having their hearts torn out. This was done by the god Xolotl, who had in this way created man, and now performed the act of sacrifice upon himself. The sun then ascended the sky. According to another tradition, the creation of man was subsequent to that of the sun. Men were only created to be the food of the luminary, and were ordered to fight and slay one another so that the sun might be supplied with food. The Mayas of Yucatan increased the previous number of suns by one. Two solar epochs terminated by devastating plagues known as the 'sudden deaths.' So swift and mortal were the pests engendered by solar failure that vultures dwelt in the houses of the cities, and devoured the bodies of their former owners. The third epoch closed with a hurricane or inundation known as hun yecil, 'the inundation of the trees,' as all the forests were swept away.


The Kiches of Guatemala had a very complete creation story, which may be studied in the Popol Vuh, their sacred book. To begin with, there only existed the vast waste of primeval waters, in which slept "the Old Ones covered with Green Feathers," the father-and mother-deities, Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. Then came Hurakan the mighty, "he who hurls below," a Kiche variant of the Aztec deity Tezcatlipoca. He commanded light to be and the solid earth, by his spoken word. The gods in council created animals. They carved mannikins out of wood, but these were intractable and disobedient, so the gods resolved to destroy them. They sent a deluge upon the world, and the mannikins were drowned. The posterity of the few who were saved are the monkeys. After the catastrophe the earth-god Vukub-Cakix (Macaw) and his progeny gave more trouble to the gods, but were ultimately destroyed. Hurakan latterly created four perfect men from yellow and white maize, and supplied them with wives, after which the sun was created, and the cosmological scheme was complete.



Maya Codex

Maya Codex

The Incan Peruvians held that all things emanated from Pachacamac, the universal spirit, from whom proceeded the spirits of the animals or plants produced by the earth. The earth itself they designated Pachamama, or 'Earth-Mother'. Thus we have two distinct conceptions welded together—a general spirit of living things coalesced with the originally totally distinct Creator. The idea of a Great Spirit, a former and shaper, though not necessarily a Creator, is almost universal throughout America, but it must sooner or later occur to the barbarian mind that the making of living beings requires something more than matter: they must receive the breath of life. A true Creator the Peruvians found in Pachacamac, an anthropomorphic deity representing the creative mind. The conception of Pachacamac as a ruler and director of the universe belongs to a later period of Incan rule, when a shrine was built to him in the new aspect by Apu-Ccapac-Inca Pachacutec, at the north angle of Cuzco. The Peruvians declared that all things were made by the word of the spirit, by the mere exercise of will, or thought. In the prayers to the Creator, and in other fragments of aboriginal rite which have survived, we read, for example: "Let a man be: let a woman be," and such expressions as "the creative word." Occasionally the sun acts as a species of demiurge. For example, it is he who creates the city of Cuzco, and sends to earth the three eggs of gold, of silver, and of copper, from which issue the Curacos and their wives and the Mitayocs and their wives. Tiahuanaco was the theatre of the new creation of man which followed upon the Deluge. In that district the Creator made man of clay, and separated him into nations, making one for each nation, and painting the dresses that each was to wear, besides giving national songs, languages, seeds suitable to the soil of each, and food. Then he gave life and soul to each one, and ordered that they should pass under the earth. Thence each national type came up in the place to which he ordered it to go. This myth again is obviously an attempt to harmonize two conflicting creation stories, an original one of genesis from caves, and the later one of the creation in Tiahuanaco. We also find local creation myths in some of the Peruvian valleys. For example, Pachacamac, in the coast valley of Irma, was not considered the creator of the sun, but a descendant of it. Of the first human pair created by him the man perished of hunger, but the woman maintained herself upon roots. The sun took pity upon her and gave her a son, whom Pachacamac slew and buried, but from his teeth there grew maize, from his ribs the long white roots of the manioc, and from his flesh pumpkins and esculent plants.



In the preface to Creation Myths of Primitive America we find the following:

"The creation myths of America form a complete system: they give a detailed and circumstantial account of the origin of this world and of all things and creatures contained in it. In the course of the various narratives which compose this myth system an earlier world is described to us, with an order of existence and a method of conduct on which the life of primitive man in America was patterned.

"That earlier world had two periods of duration—one of complete and perfect harmony; another of violence, collision, and conflict. The result and outcome of the second period was the creation of all that is animated on earth except man. Man, in the American scheme of creation, stands apart and separate; he is quite alone, peculiar, and special. Above all, he belongs to this continent. The white man was unknown to American myth-makers, as were also men of every other race and of every region outside of the Western Hemisphere.

"Described briefly and by an Indian, the American myth system is as follows: 'There was a world before this one in which we are living at present; that was the world of the first people, who were different from us altogether. Those people were very numerous, so numerous that if a count could be made of all the stars in the sky, all the feathers on birds, all the hairs and fur on animals, all the hairs of our own heads, they would not be so numerous as the first people.'

"These people lived very long in peace, in concord, in harmony, in happiness. No man knows, no man can tell, how long they lived in that way. At last the minds of all except a very small number were changed; they fell into conflict—one offended another consciously or unconsciously, one injured another with or without intention, one wanted some special thing, another wanted that very thing also. Conflict set in, and because of this came a time of activity and struggle, to which there was no end or stop till the great majority of the first people—that is, all except a small number—were turned into the various kinds of living creatures that are on earth now or have ever been on earth, except man—that is, all kinds of beasts, birds, reptiles, fish, worms, and insects, as well as trees, plants, grasses, rocks, and some mountains; they were turned into everything that we see on the earth or in the sky.

"The small number of the former people who did not quarrel, those great first people of the old time who remained of one mind and harmonious, 'left the earth, sailed away westward, passed that line where the sky comes down to the earth and touches it, sailed to places beyond; stayed there or withdrew to upper regions and lived in them happily, lived in agreement, live so to-day, and will live in the same way hereafter.'

"The American system, as we see, begins with an unknown, great, indefinite number of uncreated beings—in other words, of self-existent personages or divinities. Those divinities were everything at first; there was nothing except them, nothing aside from them, nothing beyond them. They existed unchanged through untold periods, or rather through a duration which would be periods were there a measure by which to divide it. They lived side by side in perfect concord, in the repose of a primeval chaos of quiescent mind which presents a most remarkable analogy with the attenuated, quiescent, undifferentiated matter which, according to the nebular hypothesis, filled all points of space in the physical universe before the first impulse of motion was given to it.

"At last this long period is ended, there is mental difference among most of the first people, character is evolved and has become evident; rivalries, collisions, and conflicts begin.

"The American creation myths, as far as we know them, form simply a series of accounts of the conflicts, happenings, and various methods by which the first world was changed into the world now existing. This change was effected in various ways. In the myths of certain tribes or nations, it is mainly by struggles between hostile personages. One god of great power and character overcomes a vast number of opponents, and changes each into some beast, bird, plant, or insect; but always the resultant beast or other creature corresponds in some power of mind or in some leading quality of character with the god from whose position it has fallen. In certain single cases opponents are closely matched, they are nearly equal in combat; the struggle between them is long, uncertain, and difficult. At last, when one side is triumphant, the victor says, I Hereafter you shall be nothing but a——'; and he tells what the vanquished is to be. But at this point the vanquished turns on the victor and sends his retort like a Parthian arrow, 'You shall be nothing but a——'; and he declares what his enemy is to be. The metamorphosis takes place immediately on both sides, and each departs in the form which the enemy seemed to impose, but which really belonged to him....

"With the transformation of the last of the first people or divinities, which was finished only when the Indians or some sign of them appeared in every remote nook and corner in which a remnant of the first people had taken refuge, the present order of things is established completely. There are now in the world individualities of three distinct sets and orders. First, that small number of the first people whose minds had never changed, those gods who withdrew and who live in their original integrity and harmony, who retired to places outside the sky or above it; second, the great majority of the gods, who have become everything in the present world save and except only Indians. This cycle finished, there is a new point of departure, and we meet a second group of myths concerning the existent world as it is now with its happenings—myths containing accounts of conflicts which are ever recurrent, which began before all the first people were metamorphosed, conflicts which are going on at present and which will go on forever; struggles between light and darkness, heat and cold, summer and winter, struggles between winds that blow in opposite directions—in fact, accounts of various phenomena and processes which attract the attention of savage men more than others because savage men are living face to face with them always.

"This second group contains a large number of myths, many of them exceedingly beautiful and, so far as they are known, highly pleasing to cultivated people. Unfortunately few of these myths have been given to the world yet, for the sole and simple reason that comparatively few have been collected from the Indians."

[Jeremiah Curtin, American translator and folklorist.  Born: September 6, 1835, Detroit, Michigan, United States Died: December 14, 1906, Bristol, Vermont, United States]

Many and diverse indeed are the tales regarding creation current among native America; but, notwithstanding their variety, they possess a fundamental likeness to each other whether they hail from the pampas of Argentina or the region of the Great Lakes. Among the North American Indian myths we find the animal creator strongly in evidence. Thus among the Algonquin Indians we have the Creator Michabo or Manibozho, the Great Hare, who through philological confusion (the likeness of the words for 'light' and 'rabbit') has changed his original status of sun-god for that of an animal deity. While hunting he observed his dogs disappear in the waters of a mighty lake. He himself entered the waters, which suddenly overflowed and submerged 'the world.' The god dispatched a raven to discover a piece of earth, but it returned. Another was equally unlucky, whereupon Manibozho sent out a musk-rat, which returned with a sufficiency of earth to recreate the terrestrial sphere. Marrying the musk-rat, he peopled the world.


The Arawak family, inhabiting the Guianas, Northern Brazil, and part of Columbia, believe that in the beginning the animals were created by Makonaima, the great spirit, whom no man has seen. They had at that time the power of speech, and Sigu, the son of Makonaima, was placed to rule over them. Makonaima created a marvellous tree, each branch of which produced a different kind of fruit The agouti discovered it first, and, coming daily to the tree, ate his fill without apprising the other animals. Sigu, suspecting him, ordered the woodpecker to keep him in sight, but the bird failed to detect him, and he was ultimately convicted by the rat. The tree was now open to all, and the animals were about to consume the fruits in toto when Sigu determined to cut down the tree and extend it over the whole earth by planting every seed and slip which it would furnish. To this end he employed the birds and beasts, all of which assisted willingly, except Iwarrika, the monkey, who thwarted the labours of the others. The stump of the tree was discovered to be full of water containing the fry of every description of fresh-water fish. The water beginning to flow, Sigu covered the tree-stump with a closely woven basket, but the monkey removed this and precipitated a terrible flood. Sigu then led the animals to an eminence where some high cocorite palms grew, and these he made the birds and climbing animals ascend. Those which could not climb and were not amphibious he placed in a cave, and closed and sealed it with wax. He then ascended the cocorite palm himself. During the terrible period of darkness and storm which followed Sigu dropped the seeds of the cocorite into the water beneath to judge by the sound of its depth. When at length he heard them strike the soft earth he knew that the period of flood had passed. The Macusis believe that the only person who survived the deluge re-peopled the earth by converting stones into human beings, as did Deucalion and Pyrrha. The Tamanacs say that one man and one woman were saved by taking refuge on the lofty mountains of Tamanucu, and that they threw over their heads the fruits of the Mauritius palm, from the kernels of which sprang men and women. The Warrau tribe of the Arawaks possessed the following legend of their own origin and that of the Caribs. The Warraus originally dwelt in a pleasant region above the sky, where there were neither wicked men nor noxious animals. Okonorote, a young hunter, having wandered far in pursuit of a beautiful bird, espied it and discharged an arrow which missed its mark and disappeared. While searching for his arrow he found a hole through which it had fallen, and on looking through it descried the lower world. He made a rope by which he descended with his tribe, a corpulent woman, as in several of the North American myths, remaining fixed in the aperture, and filling it up. In answer to the people's cries for water the Great Spirit created the Essiquibo river. Later, Korobona, a Warrau maiden, produced the first Carib—a terrible warrior, who slew many Warraus. The Paressi tribe of the Arawaks believed that the neglect of certain customs was the origin of misfortune in the world. They also related that Maiso, a stone woman, produced all living beings and all rivers. Even the domestic animals and iron tools of the whites were borne by this original mother.

The Arawaks of Guiana had a myth that Aimon Kondi, the Great Spirit, scourged the world with fire, from which the survivors sought refuge in underground caverns. A great flood followed, and Marerewana and his followers saved themselves in a canoe. Still another Arawak myth relates that the Creator, having completed the cosmic scheme, seated himself in a great silk-cotton tree by a river side and cut off pieces of its bark, which he cast all around. Those which reached the water became fish, those which touched the air birds, those which alighted upon the earth animals and men.

The Athapascan Indians of North-west America believe the creator of the world to be Yetl, the bird from whose wings came thunder. The plane of earth arose from the waters as Yetl brooded thereon. The Athapascans trace their descent from Yetl, who, they believe, saved their ancestors from the flood and, like Prometheus, brought them fire from Heaven.



The Iroquois tribes believe that their female ancestress fell from Heaven into the waste of primeval waters; but the dry land bubbled up under her feet and quickly grew to the size of a continent. Several of these tribes, however, are of opinion that some amphibious animals, such as the otter, beaver, and musk-rat, noticed her fall, and hastened to break it by shovelling up earth from the mud beneath the waters. Indeed, the Indians of this family were wont to point to the mountain so raised near the falls of the Oswego river.



Although there are no less than twenty-one different linguistic divisions in California, the similarity of their myths is remarkable. The Maidu have a most intricate creation myth of Kodoyanpe, the Creator, and the Coyote, who discovered the world and rendered it habitable for men. The first human beings were small wooden images like those in the Popol Vuh, but these mannikins were no more tractable than were those of Guatemala, and were at last changed into animals. Kodoyanpe, the Beneficent, perceived that Coyote was bent upon evil courses, and conceived the idea of his destruction. In this he was aided by a being called the Conqueror, destroyer of many monsters and evil things which would have menaced the life of man still unborn; but at length Kodoyanpe was defeated by Coyote and fled eastward, as did Quetzalcoatl in Mexican myth. The Indians then sprang from the places where the mannikins of the first creation had been buried. Other versions of the myth tell of a primeval waste of waters upon which Kodoyanpe and Coyote dropped in a canoe. "Let this surf become sand!" cried Coyote, and it became sand.

The Achomawi, neighbours to the Maidu, state that the Creator originally emerged from a small cloud, and that Coyote sprang from a fog. The Aschochimi of California had a flood myth of the total destruction of humanity; but by planting the feathers of divers birds the Coyote grew a new crop of men of various tribes.

Mr W. Barbrook Grubb in his book on the Lengua Indians of South America describes their creation myth as follows:

"Their whole mythology is founded upon their idea of the Creation, of which we know only the bare outlines. The Creator of all things, spiritual and material, is symbolized bY a beetle. It seems that the Indian idea is that the material universe was first made. The Creator, in the guise of the beetle, then sent forth from its hole in the earth a race of powerful beings—according to many in an embodied state—who for a time appear to have ruled the universe.

"Afterwards the beetle formed man and woman from the clay which it threw up from its hole. These were sent forth on the earth, joined together like the Siamese twins. They met with persecution from their powerful predecessors, and accordingly appealed to the creating beetle to free them from their disadvantageous formation. He therefore separated them, and gave them power to propagate their species, so that they might become numerous enough to withstand their enemies. It then appears that some time after this, or at this time, the powerful beings first created became disembodied, as they never appear again in the tradition of the Indians in material form. The beetle then ceased to take any active part or interest in the governance of the world, but committed its fortunes to these two races, which have been antagonistic ever since.

"It is rather remarkable, when we consider that they have no written records, and no system of carefully transmitted tradition, that they should retain a belief in an original Creator, in the immortality of the soul, and in the existence of these powerful and numerous evil personifications which they call kilyikhama.

"That the Indian should regard the beetle as the symbol of creative power is, perhaps, the most remarkable feature in their mythology, for it closely resembles the Egyptian Scarabæus and the ideas associated with it."



Some American myths recount the manner in which mankind originally emerged from the earth. Thus the Caddoan family (Pawnees, Wichitu, etc.) believed that they came from the Underworld. Atius Tirawa, their creative agency, was omnipotent and invincible, dwelt in the upper air, and guided the constellations. A similar myth is that of the Mandan Sioux, who suppose that the progenitors of their 'nation' lived in a subterranean village near a vast lake. A grape-vine penetrated the earth, and clambering up this several of them gained the upper world.



The ancient Caribs of the Antilles, now extinct, regarded the earth, which they designated Mama Nono, as "the good mother, from which all things come." They believed that their original founder created the race by sowing the soil with stones, or with the fruit of the Mauritius palm, which sprouted forth into men and women (Müller, Amerikanische Urreligionen). The Bakairi Caribs possess a belief akin to that of the Zuñi Indians of New Mexico regarding the coming together of the Sky-Father and the Earth-Mother, originally in opposition to one another, communicating, then touching, and at last moving away from one another until they exchanged places. In the legends of the Bakairi, the mystical twin heroes Keri and Kame brought the first animals from the hollow trunk of a tree, which they connect with the Milky Way. The Caribs possess the same myth as the Arawaks regarding the efforts of the primitive culture-hero to gauge the depths of the volume of water which enshrouded the earth. Another Carib deluge myth related that excessive rains brought about a great flood, and that humanity was saved by the ibis, which had scooped up so much earth with its beak that hills could be formed from the heap. The Bakairi believe that the sun and moon were in the beginning aimlessly carried about by two birds, until at last Keri and Kame seized them by cunning, and made them proceed in a regular course. They aver that the luminaries are concealed by certain animals—lizards, birds, and spiders—which swallow the sun at night and the moon by day, disgorging them in the morning and evening respectively. Others believe that the moon is obscured at night by a shaman taking the form of a bird, and covering its disk with his wings. The Pleiades the Bakairi believe to be parakeets. In Orion they see a dried stick of manioc.



A twofold destruction befell the original Tupi-Guarani people of Brazil. According to the myth, Monan the Creator, vexed with mankind, attempted to destroy the world by fire; but one Irin Magé a magician of might, extinguished the conflagration by a heavy rain-storm. This in turn caused the rivers and lakes to overflow. When the flood subsided, a quarrel between the hero-brothers Tamandare and Aricoute precipitated another deluge, for the former stamped his foot so deeply into the ground that a flood of water issued therefrom, and the two brothers and their families were forced to take refuge in trees. The Mundruku tribe possesses a myth that a god Raini formed the world by placing it in the shape of a flat stone upon the head of another demiurge. Some other Tupi tribes believe in an interchange of Heaven and earth, as do the Zuñi Indians, while the Mundruku hero, Karu, creates mountains by blowing feathers about. The River Chaco Indians, cognate to the Guarani, believe that the universe was created by a gigantic beetle. After having made the plains, mountains, and forests, it scraped a hole in the ground and entered the earth. From this hole numerous living beings issued and covered the face of the earth. These beings after death became evil spirits, and constantly torment mankind. From the particles of soil thrown up by its excoriations the beetle constructed a man and woman, the progenitors of all human kind. Subsequently other evil spirits came from the hole, and attempted to overthrow the man and woman. The beetle gave power to the human beings to resist, but then withdrew, taking no further interest in their fate. An early traveller, Hans Staden, writing in 1550 of the Tupi-Guarani tribes, states their belief in the destruction of their ancestors by a powerful supernatural being, Maire, in an inundation from which but a few were saved by climbing trees and hiding in caves. The same authority gives the names of three brothers, Krimen, Hermitten, and Coem, from whom these tribes claimed descent. The southern tribes speak of four brothers, two of them called Tupi and Guarani respectively, and parents of the racial divisions designated after them. Among the northern Tupi proper a very definite cosmogony is discovered. Toru-shom-pek, the sun, is their principle of good, and Toru-guenket, the moon, the power of evil. The latter is supposed to fall periodically and destroy the earth, and from her emanate all baneful influences, such as thunder-storms and floods. Tupi cosmology rests primarily upon the idea that all created things possess a maker or 'mother' who is solely responsible for the scheme of creation, no male influence being traceable. There are three other superior deities, who made the various natural families and are generally known among the Tupi tribes as Guaracy, the sun, creator of all animals, Jacy, the moon, creator of plant-life, and Peruda or Ruda, the god of generation, who promotes the reproduction of human beings. Each of these has a number of demiurges under him, served by numerous spirits who protect every individual animal, plant, and person. But Tupi cosmology varies with locality, and this accounts for the conflicting notices of its several investigators. Like the Arawaks, the Tupi believe in Tupan, who alone of his four brothers survived the deluge, but he does not appear as a creative agency. The conception of natural phenomena among the Tupi-Guarani tribes is no less curious than their theories of creation. They believe the Pleiades to be a swarm of celestial bees. The Bororos Indians and other tribes believe the Southern Cross to be the track of an emu, and the Milky Way an ash-track.



During their voyage of exploration along the Rio Maraca, a tributary on the right bank of the Amazon, the mightiest river of the world, the leaders of the Croatian Scientific Mission in South America heard from native lips an interesting creation legend concerning the brothers Tupi and Guarani, the first forefathers of the tribes speaking the sister tongues called after them. This legend freely translated, runs as follows:

Tupi was once proceeding on a great journey to Pará, with his bow and arrow in his hands, and his inseparable companion, the wise parrot Maitá, on his shoulders. His younger brother Guarani followed in his track with the evil purpose of stealing Maitá, because Fortune (Toryba) had decreed that the possessor of this bird should have his daughter, the beautiful maiden Maricá ('fine leaf'), as his wife.

Maitá, endowed with all magic wisdom, was a unique bird. He spoke with his companion, knew exactly the spots in the primeval forest where game and fruits were to be found, and likewise kept watch and gave warning of the approach and the number of enemies. Tupi, although aware of the evil intentions of his younger brother, went cheerily and carelessly on his way, the magic bird shielding him against all surprise. The steps of the two brothers were to bring them to the banks of the Pará. Guarani, fitly known as 'the patient one,' did not fret. Maricá, the amiable daughter of Toryba, had long been in love with the younger of the brothers; their hearts had long been united in the primeval forest, where the world had often been forgotten in sweet kisses and embraces.

"Wait three days for me!" said the maiden, "I will bring you Maitá or be the prisoner of Tupi."

In the meantime Tupi reached the banks of the Pará and lay fast asleep under the shade of a great banana-tree (Pacobahyba).

"Awake, comrade!" cried Maitá. "The enemy is yet far distant, but the treacherous Maricá is in sight."

Hastily the warrior sprang up, and became aware of a mocking titter from the neighbouring bushes.

"Do not fear to come nearer, Maricá, my love. I will marry you, and you shall become the mother of my children,"

"Thou liest, Tupi!" answered the girl. "Give me thy bird and I will believe it!"

The eyes of the charming wood-nymph flashed alluringly upon the youth; he could not resist their magic and ordered the parrot to fly to the shoulder of his new companion; but the wise bird had no intention of furthering the false designs of the maiden, and did not move from the spot.

Tupi angrily repeated his order and made as if to strike the inattentive bird. Then Maitá flew to the very top of a slender palm, while the fleet-footed maiden endeavoured to disappear into the depths of the forest.

Tupi was by no means willing to lose the beauty, and set out after her with swinging strides, but in vain. Laughing heartily, the active little maid clambered up a thousand-year-old giant tree and would not be caught.

As if grown out of the earth Guarani suddenly appeared between them. The game of hide-and-seek came to an end, the rivals measured each other with glances of hatred, fell upon and grappled with one another. Like a squirrel the lovely Maricá climbed up a palm and seated herself beside the fugitive magic bird Maitá. Both desired to witness this unworthy fight between the twin brothers.

The day-star set, the moon arose, but the brothers did not move from the spot. They gripped each other fast, bloody sweat dripped from their brows, and their fiercely sparkling eyes declared that one of them must have no place on earth. The parrot screeched, and Maricá wept, for Guarani's strength seemed to be leaving him.

"Be gracious, mighty Tupan!" pleaded the daughter of Fate to the father of mankind. Tupan, the almighty, heard the maiden's prayer and ordered the bride of the Wind to separate the brothers. Forthwith the Flood (Pororoca) rose in storm amidst peals of thunder; uncanny crashings and rumblings broke the stillness of the primeval forest, the earth shook, and all the elements seemed to have broken loose. Trees and palms were overthrown, and fell into the foam-covered waves of the giant river. The parrot was lost in the skies, while Maricá was carried off by the wind and came to herself in her mother's hut. The terrified wrestlers ceased their struggle and looked in surprise at each other.

In the hope of catching Maricá, Tupi sprang upon a floating tree-trunk and entrusted his fate to the will of the waters, finally anchoring his ship of life to the opposite bank. There he settled down and became the ancestor of numerous Indian peoples, the Pitiguaras, Tupinambas, Tabajaras, Cahetes, Tupiniquias, and many others.

Guarani returned southward and founded the Guayanas, Carijos, Tapes, and many other generations of warlike Indian races.


Iroquois: The Iroquois Confederacy

Micmac: Glooscap