[Flood Myths IMAGE]

Last Updated:Wednesday, February 21st, 1996

Native North American Flood Myths

North American Indians generally:

The primordial environment is for almost all tribes a watery one, from which different beings bring up mud to make the earth. [Erdoes & Ortiz, p. 75]

Netsilik Eskimo

A flood killed all animals and humans except for two Shaman. They copulated, and their offspring included the world's first women. [Balikci]

Micmac

Kuloscap defeated the cruel Ice Giants at various contests. Then he stomped on the ground, and foaming water rushed down from the mountains. He sang a song which changed how everyone looks, and the Ice Giants became large fish. [Norman]

Haida (Queen Charlotte Is., British Columbia):

The tide just kept rising until it covered all but the highest mountains. The people saved themselves on rafts. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Kootenay (southeast British Columbia):

A small gray bird, despite the prohibition of her husband (a chiken hawk), bathed in a certain lake. There she was seized and raped by a giant in the lake. The bird's husband shot the monster, who swallowed up all the water. The woman pulled out the arrow, and the water rushed forth in a torrent. [Kelsen, in Dundes]

Algonquin

Long ago, when men had become evil, the powerful serpent _Maskanako_ came and fought with them. The serpent brought the snake-water rushing, spreading everywhere, destroying everything. Then the waters ran off, and the great evil went away through a cave. [Kelsen, in Dundes]

Northern California Coast:

Humans and animals were all washed away by a flood which covered everything. Later, the gods recreated them. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Cheyenne:

One particularly hard winter had "great floods" in addition to earthquakes and volcanoes. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Tsetsaut:

A man and his wife went up the hills to hunt marmots. There, they saw that the water was still rising. They enclosed their children, along with supplies, in hollow trees. All other people drowned. [Roheim, in Dundes]

Yuma:

Komashtam'ho caused a great rain and started to flood out the large dangerous animals, but he was persuaded that people needed some of the animals for food. He evaporated the waters with a great fire, turning the land to desert in the process. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Navajo:

For their sins, the gods expelled the Insect People from the first world by sending a wall of water from all directions. The Insect People flew up into the second world. Later, in the fourth world, descendents of these people were likewise punished. They escaped the floodwaters by climbing into a fast-growing reed. Cicada dug an entrance into the fifth world, where people live today. [Capinera]

Pima (SW Arizona):

A great green wall of water roared down the valley and destroyed everything in it. Szeukha, Earth maker's son, rescued a few people from the great eagle, who had kidnapped them earlier and kept them in his nest. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Papago (Arizona):

Coyote and Montezuma survived, in their separate crafts, a flood which covered all the land. They met again on the top of Monte Rosa, which rose above the flood waters. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Caddo (Okalhoma, Arkansas):

Four monsters grew large and powerful until they were high enough to touch the sky. One man heard a voice telling him to plant a hollow reed. He did so, and it quickly grew very big. He, his wife, and pairs of all good animals entered the reed. Waters rose to cover everything but the top of the reed and the heads of the monsters. Turtle destroyed the monsters by digging under them and uprooting them. The waters subsided, and winds dried the earth. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Sioux:

Unktehi, a water monster, fought the people and caused a great flood. The people retreated to a hill, but the water swept over them, killing them all. The blood jelled and turned to pipestone. Unktehi was also turned to stone; her bones are in the Badlands now. A giant eagle, Wanblee Galeshka, swept down, saved one girl from the flood, and made her his wife. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

In another version, the thunderbirds fought and defeated Unktehi and her children before the waters washed over the highest mountain. [Erdoes & Ortiz]

Ojibway:

The evil serpent Meshekenabek carried off Manobozho's cousin into a deep lake. Manobozho caused the sun to shine fiercely on the lake to drive out Meshekenabek and his companions. When they emerged, Manobozho shot an arrow into the serpent's heart. The serpent, in his dying rage, stirred up the waters of the lake and spread waves over the land. Fleeing, Manobozho warned the Indians also to retreat to a mountain top. The waters still rose, though, and Manobozho made a raft for them to take refuge on. However, Manobozho couldn't disperse the flood without some earth to use as a nucleus. Muskrat finally succeeded in diving for some dirt, and Manobozho used it to make the waters receed. [Howey]
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