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turtles and snakes

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  • Vince
    This Chief tells me of a number of their traditions about Turtles, Snakes, and the power of a particular rock or cave on the next river which informs of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2007
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      "This Chief tells me of a number of their traditions about Turtles,
      Snakes, and the power of a particular rock or cave on the next river
      which informs of everything¬Ö none of those I think worth while
      mentioning." William Clark. 17th October Wednesday 1804.

      A Delaware Creation Story From Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-
      1680, edited by Bartlett Burleigh James and J. Franklin Jameson (New
      York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1913), 76-77.

      A native of the Netherlands, Jasper Danckaerts traveled through the
      Hudson and Delaware valleys in the late seventeenth century. In his
      journal, he recorded an encounter with a Delaware Indian who told him
      the following creation story.

      "We [Danckaerts and his companion] asked him, where he believed he
      came from? He answered from his father. "And where did your father
      come from?" we said, "and your grandfather and great-grandfather, and
      so on to the first of the race?" He was silent for a little while,
      either as if unable to climb up at once so high with his thoughts, or
      to express them without help, and then took a piece of coal out of
      the fire where we sat, and began to write upon the floor. He first
      drew a circle, a little oval, to which he made four paws or feet, a
      head and a tail. "This," said he, "is a tortoise, lying in the water
      around it," and he moved his hand round the figure, continuing, "This
      was or is all water, and so at first was the world or the earth, when
      the tortoise gradually raised its round back up high, and the water
      ran off it, and thus the earth became dry." He then took a little
      straw and placed it on end in the middle of the figure, and
      proceeded, "The earth was now dry, and there grew a tree in the
      middle of the earth, and the root of this tree sent forth a sprout
      beside it and there grew upon it a man, who was the first male. This
      man was then alone, and would have remained alone; but the tree bent
      over until its top touched the earth, and there shot therein another
      root, from which came forth another sprout, and there grew upon it
      the woman, and from these two are all men produced."

      "We acknowledge, he said, a supreme first power, some cause of all
      things, which is known by all the Indians of North America,
      hereabouts, whether Mahatans Sinnekes, Maquaas, Minquaas, southern or
      northern Indians, not only by the name of Sackamacher or Sachamor
      (which the Dutch for the sake of convenience will pervert into
      Sackemacher), that is to say, lord, captain, or chief, wich all
      persons bear who have any power or authority among them, especially
      any government or rule over other persons and affairs, and that name,
      it appeared to him, was used by others to express God, more than by
      themselves; but the true name by which they call this Supreme Being,
      the first and great beginning of all things, and nothing is done
      without his aid and direction. "And," he continued, "I, who am a
      sakemaker among the Indians, and also a medicine man (which was
      true), and have performed many good cures among them, experience
      every day that all medicines do not cure, if it do not please him to
      cause them to work; that he will cure one and not another thereby;
      that sickness is bad, but he sends it upon whom he pleases, because
      those upon whom he visits it are bad; but we did not have so much
      sickness and death before the Christians came into the country, who
      have taught the people debauchery and excess; they are therefore much
      more miserable than they were before. The devil, who is wicked,
      instigates and urges them on, to all kinds of evil, drunkenness and
      excess, to fighting and war, and to strife and violence amongst
      themselves, by which many men are wounded and killed. He thus does
      all kind of evil to them." (p175) I told him I had conversed with
      Jasper or Tantaque, another old Indian, on the subject, from whence
      all things had come, and he had told me they came from a tortoise;
      that this tortoise has brought forth the world, or that all things
      had come from it; that from the middle of the tortoise there had
      sprung up a tree, upon whose branches men had grown. That was true,
      he replied, but Kickeron was the tortoise, and the tortoise had a
      power and a nature to produce all things, such as earth, trees, and
      the like, Which God wished through it to produce, or have produced."
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