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
“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
“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
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
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
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,
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