The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/"How the World Was Made" by Kathi Smith Littlejohn

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Background[edit | edit source]

"How the World Was Made" is a Cherokee Cosmogonic Mythor creation story. Most Cherokee stories were originally oral stories, this means that instead of being spread through written word the story would pass through the generations via word of mouth. This method of storytelling allows each storyteller to add their own flourishes and style to the story. This also means the the story we hear today is not necessarily how it was originally told. A downside to oral storytelling is the ability for the story to change overtime. The specific version being analyzed on this page is a version told by and recorded by Kathi Smith Littlejohn. Littlejohn is a Cherokee Legend Teller known for writting and recording important Cherokee Stories. A written version of "How the World Was Made" is available in Living stories of the Cherokee collected and edited by Barbara R. Duncan or here. This page will take from the second version. There is also a summary available below.

Other Stories Recorded By Kathi Smith Littlejohn[1][edit | edit source]

  • Intro / How The Legends Came To Be
  • Legend Of The Woodpecker
  • The Bird That Was Ashamed Of His Feet
  • The Rabbit That Goes Duck Hunting
  • Me-Li And The Muddobber
  • How The Deer Got His Antlers
  • Origin Of The Smoky Mountains And The Indian Pipe
  • How The Hummingbird Brought Tobacco
  • Seven Dancing Boys (The Pleiades)
  • How The Redbird Got His Color
  • Why The Mole Lives Underground
  • Daughter Of The Sun
  • Rabbit Steals Fox's Fish
  • Rabbit And The Frog

Summary[edit | edit source]

The story takes place on rock in the middle of the ocean. On the rock lives two people and all of the animals. One of the people was a grandfather and the other his grandson. As the grandson grows older he begins to take up too much space on the rock. The grandfather and the animals decide that they should dive under water to find more land. After a failed attempt by a mystery animal the turtle volunteers and is underwater for seven days before he washes up on shore dead. They grieved over the turtle until they noticed mud at the bottom of it's feet which they collected and layed out to dry. The grandfather threw it out on the water and it became land. Because it was still to soft the buzzard flew over the land to dry it off with it's wings. When the bird's wings went down a valley formed, when they went up a mountain formed. The animals called the buzzard back before the land was too deformed and looked upon the world as it is today.

  1. Kathi Smith Littlejohn – Cherokee Legends 2 (1994, Cassette), retrieved 2021-02-27