"Myths"of the Americas

by Mary Nell Wyatt

(First published in newsletter # 15 in April 1996)

The Americas, (North, Central and South) remained isolated from the rest of the world until the advent of the Spanish in the 1500s. Yet, the mythology, religious beliefs and legends passed down through the ages (especially those about the creation of man and a massive flood) are absolutely fascinating and present evidence that is impossible to explain except in the context of the Biblical account.

"The tradition of Paradise and the Fall has been disseminated in one form or another among virtually all the races on earth since time immemorial. It should not be forgotten that the idea of evolution is only a thing of yesterday, unconnected with the thoughts and verbal traditions of past peoples and periods and diametrically opposed to the ideas of primitive races still alive today." (MGM, p. 70).

Knowledge of the True Creator

Soon after arriving at Plymouth Rock, Edward Winslow was authorized, on March 22, 1621, to negotiate with the Indian "king" Massassoit and form a treaty. In later discussions with the Indians,: "When Winslow told the natives of the God of the Christians they replied that this was very good, because they believed the same things of their own god, Kiehtan. Kiehtan... was the creator of all things and dwelt far away in the western skies. He also created one man and one woman, and through them the whole of humanity, but it was not known how mankind had become so widely scattered." (MGM, p. 94).

More was learned about the religion of the natives of the Americas, and these beliefs were recorded BEFORE any missionaries had come to "enlighten" the "poor savages". The Alacaluf who inhabited the islands at the southern tip of South America "believed in a supreme being whom they called Xolas or Kolas. The word Xolas means "star"... The Alacaluf's supreme being is a pure spirit. God, who has never possessed a body, existed before the creation of the world, plants, animals and human beings, and is an independent, self-sustaining spirit. The Alacaluf believed in the perpetuity of this supreme being and in his fundamental kindliness." (ibid., p. 115).

The Selknam (South America) spoke of their high god, Temaukl, with deep sincerity and great conviction. He is also referred to as "The One in heaven" or "That One There Above", who, being a spirit, requires no food, drink, sleep, etc. He lives above the firmament, beyond the stars and never comes down to earth; yet he knows all that happens. "He created the earth and the empty void, but the various forms of existence were created by the first man, K'enos" (Adam). (It seems as if somewhere along the line, Adam got credit for actually "creating" when in actuality all he did was "name" everything). They further believe that their god "gave his people laws, precepts and commandments which were transmitted to them by K'enos". And that "All men's subsequently acquired knowledge and abilities were transmitted to them by K'enos". (MGM, p. 118, 1190).

"Among the native peoples of the American continent, a firmly anchored belief in the supreme being exists principally among tribes whose culture has preserved its ancient cast." (Ibid., p. 87) "The Deity of the Pawnees is Atius Tirawa (father spirit). He is an intangible spirit, omnipotent and beneficent. He pervades the universe, and is its supreme ruler. Upon his will depends everything that happens. He can bring good luck or bad; he can give success of failure. Everything rests with him. As a natural consequence of this conception of the Deity, the Pawnees are a very religious people. Nothing is undertaken without a prayer to the Father for assistance. (George Bird Grinnell, "Pawnee Mythology", Journal of American Folk-Lore, VI, 1893, p. 114.)

In the myths of the Wiyot, the supreme being, Gudatrigakwitl, (Above Old Man), is the creator, who needed "no sand, earth, clay or sticks for the creation of man. God merely thought, and man was there." God also "thought" a woman for him. They also believe the first men were bad and had to die. "God still lives today", they say. He is immortal. (MGM, p. 88).

The East Pomo of northern California called the supreme being Marumda. He lived alone in a house of clouds in the North and created all things. But, the first men were evil and had acquired too much power- "they could fly". So, Marumda summoned the great waters and only a few families escaped destruction, and God admonished these to "do better in the future". (ibid. , p. 89).

The Thompson Indians, the Lillooet and the Shuswap all have a profound belief in the supreme god whom they call the "Old One", or "Old Man". They also referred to him as the "Great Chief" or "Mystery". Their beliefs go a step further (as do many others) and include a "mediator" called "Coyote".

There is literally no end to the list of native people, from the Eskimos in the far north to the natives at the south end of South America, whose original beliefs were of a god who can only be the True God, the Creator. Yet, these people had no contact with the rest of the world when these beliefs were first discovered by the Europeans.

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