The Earth On Turtle’S Back Power Point 111109


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The Earth On Turtle’S Back Power Point 111109

  1. 2. Customs I (Which behavior suggests a cultural pattern?) <ul><li>Believed in powerful dreams which had to be “made” true  deep belief in mysticalism </li></ul><ul><li>Their respect for qualities such as perseverance, kindness, selfnessness, and quick thinking (not necessarily size or strength) is shown by the glorification of Muskrat’s accomplishment. </li></ul><ul><li>The important role of animals in the myth suggests that the Onondaga respected animals: animals did serve humans, but also helped them greatly by doing things impossible for humans. Animals weren’t inferiors. </li></ul>
  2. 3. Institutions (Are there any group social behaviors suggested in the animals’ behavior?) <ul><li>institution - a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture [Merriam-Webster] </li></ul><ul><li>Teamwork and communal striving, without regard for danger if it were to help another: the swans worked together to support the Sky Woman, all the water animals took turns to dive for Earth for the Sky Woman, and Muskrat is willing to sacrifice her life to help her. </li></ul><ul><li>The institution of male authority: the two strongest and most authoritative figures in the story, the Ancient Chief and the Great Turtle, were male. Therefore men were considered superior to women in Onondaga culture. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Muskrat was a small, weak female and was still able to accomplish a great feat, for which the others respected her. (The other animals were male.) This shows that gender doesn’t trump true greatness. </li></ul>
  3. 4. Religious Rites & Ceremonies <ul><li>The Ancient Chief’s interpretation of his wife’s dream: he concludes that he must fulfill this powerful dream, “as is our way.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ancient Chief and young men gather to pull up the Great Tree to fulfill the dream </li></ul><ul><li>Not many obvious rites . Possible rites : </li></ul><ul><li>-The animals each dive to try and gather Earth from far below the waters. This seems a ritualistic test of the strength of one’s body and spirit, as each animal attempts it. </li></ul><ul><li>-Muskrat’s placing of the handful of dirt on the Great Turtle’s shell. Essentially, Muskrat is creating the world. </li></ul><ul><li>No Heaven or God, but there is Skyland (location similar to that of Heaven) and a supernatural influence. </li></ul>
  4. 6. Natural Landmarks (Are there physical or natural objects explained?) <ul><li>The Earth itself </li></ul><ul><li>-The myth’s purpose is to explain Earth’s origin and creation. </li></ul><ul><li>-Earlier, below Skyland was only water. To help the Sky Woman, who couldn’t live in water, the Muskrat was able to bring up a pawful of dirt. </li></ul><ul><li>-The dirt, when placed on the Great Turtle’s shell, grew to become the EarthThe turtle’s shell was marked by Muskrat’s paw. </li></ul><ul><li>-All Earth’s plants came from the seeds which the Sky Woman had taken from the Great Tree, and had accidentally dropped on the barren dirt. </li></ul><ul><li>Other landmarks : </li></ul><ul><li>-Skyland in the clouds and the water below </li></ul><ul><li>-The Great Tree (covered in fruits and flowers, had four roots stretching in the four cardinal directions) </li></ul><ul><li>Significance : The Onondaga couldn’t explain natural phenomena, so they had to rely on myths to explain things such as the designs on a turtle’s shell, the Earth’s existence, and the plants on it. </li></ul>
  5. 7. Events Beyond Human Control (magic, spiritual events) <ul><li>The Sky Woman’s “dream of great power” in which she saw the Great Tree uprooted </li></ul><ul><li>The Sky Woman’s falling through the hole </li></ul><ul><li>The handful of dirt magically growing into the Earth </li></ul><ul><li>The Sky Woman’s accidental dropping of seeds from the Sky World, which became Earth’s plants </li></ul><ul><li>Significance : There are many inexplicable and mystical elements in the myth. The events which involve spiritual or magical circumstances often have the most important consequences: each of the events above is a major catalyst or plot event. </li></ul><ul><li>-These events show the importance of the mystical in Onondaga life and their belief that there is something beyond the physical which humans cannot control. </li></ul>
  6. 8. Summary and Overall Significance <ul><li>The myth’s stated purpose was to explain the Earth’s creation and its current location (on the back of the Great Turtle) as well as other natural phenomena. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a creation or origin myth of the Onondaga tribe. </li></ul><ul><li>The myth contains clues about the Onondaga mindset and culture. They believed males were superior, respected qualities such as perseverance and selflessness, and possessed a strong belief in the supernatural. </li></ul>
  7. 9. end. Skywoman Descending Great Turtle Island by Arnold Jacobs (Onondaga)