The World on the Turtles Back

“The World on the Turtles Back”
Iroquois Myth
Notes from pages 20-22:
A. More than 200 Native American Language Families
Recent studies support the idea that America was settled
by only three migrations over the Bering land bridge:
The Na-Dene
The Eskimos
The Aleuts
B. Everyone’s first exposure to Literature is oral:
Lullabies, bedtime stories, and nursery rhymes
Native American culture, oral tradition is the means by
which the young learned tribal history and beliefs.
Required long periods of memorization, so Native
Americans often used drum music as well as
pictographs, knotted string, and wampum belt as
memory aids.
 Notes
from pages 20-22:
C. Many Native American songs used rhythmic
repetition rather than rhyme.
Enable singer to communicate with animals, nature,
and the world of the spirit.
D. Many Native American peoples developed
animal clans or societies.
People attributed the animal characteristics to the
clan: Ex. Bear-strong, dangerous, people
Ex. The Mohawks with three animal clans:
1. Wolf
2. Bear
3. Turtle
Thematic Link
Explains how the world was created
 Expresses a Native American ideal of people living in
harmony in nature.
 Focusing
your Reading:
Literary Analysis: Myth and Creation Myth
Active Reading: Causes and Effects
 Creation
Myth-Attempt to describe how the
universe, the earth, and life on earth began
and that most of the world’s cultures have
their own stories explaining these mysteries.
 Myths were originally passed on through oral
many different versions of each myth
Causes and Effects:
Example One: What Exists: The Earth and what
caused it to be is when a woman walked in a circle
around dirt brought up from the ocean floor and
placed on a turtle’s back.
Symbolism: the woman’s actions symbolize the
development of agriculture, the geological formation of
the earth.
Example Two: Effects of the death of the twins’
 Causes: the left-handed twin wanted to head for the
light he saw; he was born through his mother’s armpit
 Effects: Useful plants grew from the mother’s grave;
the right-handed twin was angry at his brother for
killing their mother
 Creation
Myths provide answers about how
things came to be:
How was the earth created in this myth?
The muskrat brought soil from the bottom of the
ocean, and the woman grew the earth from it.
Why is the world made up of forces that seem to be in
opposition to one another?
 Transformation
of a Character:
Common element of mythology; often used to
explain natural phenomena
Example: Natural feature explained by the
grandmother’s transformation is the moon.
 Iroquois
seem to believe that human nature
is more reasonable or upright than it is
unreasonable or devious.
Belief is reflected by the fact that the righthanded brother, who is more upright, has a
greater hand in creating people.
 Iroquois
believe that human nature is
fundamentally constructive (right-handed
twin) and destructive (left-handed twin)
People cannot be only one or the other-offers
 Questions-pg.
 1.
What are your thoughts about the creation
Found the myth interesting or how well they
think it explained natural phenomena
 Comprehension
 How did the animals help the woman who
fell from the sky?
The birds broke her fall, the sea turtle gave her a
place to rest, and the muskrat brought her soil to
make the earth and grow plants.
 Comprehension
Check Continued:
 What are the differences between the twins?
One is devious and crooked (left-handed twin)
and the other is honest and upright (right-handed
 What
was the outcome of the duels between
the twins?
The right-handed twin won the final duel and
cast his brothers’ body off the earth.
He now rules the day, and the left-handed twin
rules the night.
 3.
What are the most important things you
learned about the values and way of life of
the Iroquois from reading this myth?
Respect for the balance of nature
Belief in the world’s creation by a higher power
Ritual dancing and prayer for plentiful harvests
 4.
Why do you think the Iroquois honor both
the left-handed twin and the right-handed
The Iroquois acknowledge “crooked” and
“straight minds” as being necessary to a
balanced world.
They see neither twin as wholly good or wholly
evil and give thanks to each for his creations.
They are the source of opposed forces in the
“The World on the Turtle’s Back” Writing Option 1 or 2-pg.
Header in right hand corner of first page indicating Name,
Date, Hour, TWTB Writing Option (1 or 2-State which one that
you decided to do)
See page 1283 in your textbook for Writing Option One
Essays need and Introduction, 3 Body Paragraphs, and
MLA Cite; will be citing the Textbook and page numbers
from the textbook. Only source to use; do not use any
other sources.
In-text citation example: In the Iroquois myth, it states, “still
keeps watch over the realm of her favorite grandson” (30).
 Keep in mind “The World on the Turtle’s Back” is in quotation
marks; not italicized because it is a myth.
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