This booklet is a compilation of stories about the creation of the earth. I have compiled these stories to illustrate the many ways that people have traditionally explained the origin of the earth and its life. Some persons would select one of these as a literal recounting of the origin of the earth, and they would select that one story as the only correct and only acceptable explanation of that origin. Regardless of which one they choose, I would ask how they justify their choice of one and their exclusion of the others. Such a choice seems debatable because all the stories seem equally improbable as literal accounts, although many are attractive as metaphorical or mythical treatments. Choosing one story as literal truth and exclusion of the others also seems problematic in view of the dignity and sanctity with which all the other stories have been regarded for centuries, if not millennia, in various parts of the world.

      I have paraphrased these stories to make them more intelligible and relevant to modern readers. In doing so, I have also undoubtedly Westernized the stories. Thus much of their flavor and perhaps some of their meaning have been lost in translation by others and in paraphrasing by me. I encourage readers to consult the original translations cited in the text or, better, the stories as told in their original languages.

      The fourth edition differs from the third in having a Potawatomi rather than Winnebago story, and in having a Menominee story. The third differed from the first two in having two Hebrew creation stories. The first two editions sought consistency with their treatment of other cultures' stories by melding the two main Hebrew creation stories into one. The third and later editions violate that consistency, but more adequately address the two Hebrew stories, by recounting the two separately. The third and later editions also have a more authentic version of Chief Seattle's speech as their Afterword.

      Two colleagues should be thanked for their help. Dr. Sally Walker loaned her copy of the Hopi story that begins this collection, and Barbara Ruff kindly read the entire collection and marked the errors that marred the first edition.

      These stories are best read one at time. I have kept them short to suit the tastes of modern readers, but they are best taken singly and savored, rather than read in quick succession. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have enjoyed preparing them.



Back to the Table of Contents of Creation Stories from around the World.  




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