Latin American Indian Creation Myths

The Clouds  1  

Cloud let a raindrop fall on a woman’s body. Nine months later she gave birth to twins.
    When they grew up, they wanted to know who their father was.
    “Tomorrow morning,” she said, “look towards the east. There you will see him, erect in the sky like a tower.”
    Over the earth and the sky, the twins traveled in search of their father.
    Cloud was doubtful and demanded:
    “Show me that you are my children.”
    One of the twins sent a lightning bolt to the earth. The other, thunder. As cloud still had doubts, they walked through a flood and came out intact.
    Then cloud made a place for them at his side, between their many siblings and nephews.

The Wind  1

When God made the first Wawenock Indians, some mud was left over on the world’s ground. With these leftovers, Gluskabe made himself.
    “And you, where did you come from?” God asked, aghast, from the heights.
    “I am wonderful,” Gluskabe said. “No one made me.”
    God stood at his side and extended his hand towards the Universe.
    “Look at my work,” he defied him. “If you are so wonderful, show me the things you have invented.”
    “I can make the wind, if I want to.”
    And Gluskabe blew his lungs out.
    The wind was born and died immediately.
    “I can make the wind,” Gluskabe admitted, “but I can’t make it last.”
    The God blew, so powerfully that gluskabe fell down and lost all his hair.

The Rain 2

In the region of the great lakes in the North, a girl suddenly realized that she was alive. The wonder of the world opened her eyes and she set off to see it.
    Following the tracks of the hunters and woodsmen on the Menomini nation, she came to a big log cabin. Ten brothers and  the thunderbirds lived there, who offered her shelter and food.
    One unlucky morning, as the girl was fetching water from the spring, a furry serpent trapped her and carried her the depths of a mountain of rock. The serpents were about to devour her when the girl sang:
    From very far away the thunderbirds  heard the call. They attacked the rocky mountain with the lightning bolt, rescued the prisoner and killed the serpents.
    The thunderbirds left the girl in the fork of a tree.
    “Here you shall live,” they told her. “We will come whenever you sing.
    When the little green frog calls from the tree, the thunderbirds respond and it rains over the world.      

The Rainbow 3

The dwarves of the woods had surprised Yobuënahuaboshka in an ambush and had cut off his head.
Tumbling along, the head returned to the region of the Cashinahua.
      Although he had learned to skip and rock and roll gracefully, no one wanted a head without a body.
    “Mother, my brothers and sisters, countrymen,“ he lamented, “Why do you reject me? Why are you ashamed of me?”
    To end that rigmarole and to get rid of the head, the mother suggested that he transform himself into something, but the head refused to transform himself into something that already existed. The head thought, dreamed, invented. The moon did not exist. The rainbow did not exist.
    He asked for seven balls of wool, of all the colors.
    He took aim and threw the balls to the sky, one after the other. The balls stayed hung up beyond the clouds: the strands of wool unrolled, softly, towards the earth.
    Before going up, the head warned:
    “Whoever does not recognize me will be punished. When you see me up there, say: ‘There is the tall and beautiful Yobuënahuaboshka!’”
    Then he braided the seven strands that hung down and climbed on the rope up to the sky.
    That night a white slash appeared for the first time amongst the stars. A girl raised her eyes and asked, in wonder: “What is that?”
    Immediately a red macaw pounced on her, hopped quickly around and stung her between the legs with his pointy tail. From that moment on, women bleed when the moon so wishes.
    The following morning the rope of seven colors shone in the sky.
    A man pointed to it with his finger.
    “Look, look! How strange!”
    He said that and fell down.
    And that was the first time someone died.

1 - Péret, Benjamin, Anthologie des Mythes, légendes et contes poulaires d'Amérique, Paris, 1960
2 - El origen de las maneras de mesa, México, 1976
3 - D'Ans, André Marcel, La verdadera Biblia de los cashinahua, Lima, 1975

All of these myths were compiled by Eduardo Galeano in his book: Memoria del fuego - 1, Buenos Aires, 1984

Translated, from the Spanish, by Frank Thomas Smith