Creation Story of the AniYuntikwalaski
The following creation account was from a letter (Reminiscences of the Indians, Cephas Washburn) to the Presbytery by Presbyterian missionary Cephas Washburn, about 1830. He was the first missionary to the Chickamaugan peoples of Arkansas who had moved to Arkansas in the late 1700's and early 1800's. This account is from Ta-ka-e-tuh a high spiritual leader of the Aniyuntikwalaski.
In the beginning, first the earth was created; next, the sun, moon, and stars; then man, then birds, then land animals, then fishes and beasts. The period of time occupied in creation was six days, or rather six nights, after which was a day of rest. The elder people observed this day of rest. At first there was one man and one woman created. The first pair were red and the varieties in thecolor of the human race was because of the influence of climate.
The first human pair were placed in a most beautiful country, which spontaneously yielded the most delicious fruits, was adorned with the most delicate and fragrant herbs and flowers, and enlivened and made delightful by the music of birds. It was so perfectly healthy that disease and death were unknown. When asked where that country was situated, such was the whole Earth at that happy time: but that the human race at first lived in a country very far to the West, on the other side on of very large salt lake. At that time the days and nights were of the same length; that the temperature was always the same; never too hot nor too cold. There were no violent storms; the rain fell in gentle showers; and only pleasant and refreshing breezes swept over the earth. There were no thunderings and lightning's, nor earthquakes. The birds were all sweet singers and could all sing together in concert; and the voices of all animals were sweetly harmonious. No harsh or unpleasant sound was heard on earth, and every vegetable was pleasant and useful. All the animals that now exist existed then, except serpents and such as are a cross of different races, like the mule; but that very many species of animals have ceased to exist. Then the animals could understand each other's language; and man could converse with all beasts and birds and fishes.
The creator then often came down to earth, and conversed most familiarly with man; and all the earth was piece and love and happiness. When asked how long this happy state continued, the old man did not know but all supposed it was about a few years as there was no increase of the race during this happy period.
What caused this sad reverse?
Man's transgression of the law of the creator. To this, man was tempted by woman. The snake tempted the woman. One serpent was at first created, but he was not allowed to associate with the other creatures, but was shut up in a dark cavern in a rock. The first woman was walking by herself, and she went past this rock, when the serpent started a sweet, soothing musical tone, which attracted her notice, and she paused to look and listen. Soon the serpent addressed her in a friendly voice, then opened a fissure in the rock, and came into view. He had a long talk with the woman, and spoke with a voice so enchanting, that though what he proposed at first shocked her, yet at last he prevailed, and induced her to tempt her husband; and it was the serpent that gave her power to prevail over the man and cause him to transgress. What was the nature of the transgression? Some say it was eating the fruit of a tree, which the creator had forbidden. They disobeyed the command of their maker, and it makes no difference what that transgression was.
God was very angry, and he punished them in a great many ways. The whole Earth was changed.
Noxious weeds and poisonous vegetables were produced; dreadful storms and winds and earthquakes took place, and man was now exposed to burning heat, and then to freezing cold.
The earth became unhealthy and all kinds of disease and plagues prevailed. The beasts were fighting each other, and became unfriendly to man. The man and his wife often the quarreled, and were very unhappy, and ever since, all kinds of pains and sufferings have prevailed everywhere, and all have to die.
Ever sensed this fatal disobedience to the creator, serpents have multiplied, and have, and will be, the terror of all men.
How did the disposition to do evil pass from the first pair of their children, and thus become universal? When the serpent prevailed to lead the first pair into straying, a part of his own disposition was infused into them; and this same disposition has been transmitted to all their posteriority.
Did God infuse this malignant nature into man? No! God is perfect, and he never does evil, or influences anyone to evil; it was done by the serpent.
Man thus fallen and depraved manifested no tendency to reform but to progress from bad to worse, and this in a constantly accelerating rapidity. The life of man at that time was protracted to a very great number of years, and this fact aided in multiplying crimes, and carrying out schemes of wickedness, and of course very greatly added to the miseries of life. At last man
became so bad that God could bear with him no longer , and determined to destroy all the race, except a single family. This one family alone of all the human race was good.
How did it happen, amidst universal wickedness, that this family were not corrupt also? God took away from this family of disposition of the serpent, and gave them a disposition to do right; but he had to keep them good by his constant influence, for the nature of the serpent still remained in them, so that if they should be left to themselves, they would be wicked like all others. Then God told his family that he would bring a great flood of water, and drown the whole world; and directed this family to build a very great raft, which covered many acres, and to make a house on the raft for the family, and a store house for food; and then he told a pair of all kinds of animals, that could not live in the water, to go on the raft with the good family, and so they were saved alive when the flood came.
But where did enough water to cover all the earth come from? God could easily create water at anytime to drown the world, but our old men have told us it rained very hard for a longtime.
Before the flood, the island we now live on, the entire Western Part of the continent, was down very deep in the great salt lake and God caused it to rise, and the water roll to those parts of the earth where man in beasts were living so that part of the world was covered with water to a great depth.
But where did all this water go when the earth again became dry? The God had made great hollows or caves in the earth and the water went into these. Or he might have made it into something else.
Many red people believe that rocks and minerals were made out of the waters of the flood.
When every living thing, except those that could live in the water and those that were on the raft, was destroyed, God caused the waters to retire and the dry land appeared; in this family and all beasts left the raft and lived on the land as they had done before. It took a great many years for the earth to be re-populated, as it was before the flood. Ever since then the live span of man has been shorter. Man soon forgot the punishment of the flood, and became very wicked again. So,
God gave them all up to be wicked, but one man and his wife. This man he commanded to go away from all his relations and all other people, and live by themselves. This was the first of the Indian peoples. When this man's posterity had become very numerous, the other nations found out where that lived, and they made war on them, and often subdued them as a punishment for
their sins. At last God paused them to come to this island, to separate them from the other nations, and to keep them from becoming entirely corrupt. But here they became wicked and bad, had wars, and that last God lead white man to find out where they lived and they came to this island to take our lands, teach us a great deal of evil, had made tools of us with the fire water and cheated us out of our lands. They are driving is further in further to the West towards the very salt lake on the other side of which our fathers once lived.
We still hope for better times, when our people will be delivered from their enemies, and restored to their former superiority to all other people and again God will delight in us and dwell with us.
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