Forget Noah, Here’s A Better Flood Story.

Epic floods are part of  the mythology of peoples around the world.  In North America, they are part of both Christianity and many Native peoples.

The stories are almost identical.  There was an upheaval, a leader prepared for a flood, the flood came, but the leader’s clan and all animals were saved.

Here in the Manitoba Museum is the myth of a flood experienced by the first peoples to inhabit North America, the Algonkia or Angonquins.  Their great spiritual figure, Wee-Sa-Kay-Jac, called on the Thunderbird to give people warning the flood was coming.

The Thunderbird, in turn, called to Nekomas, daughter of the moon and of the Great Chiefs, it was coming.  Nekomas called to the moon to delay the flood until she had time to prepare.

One raft was built for the people, another for the world’s animals.  The flood came for a long time.

When Nekomas thought it might be ending, she tossed a beaver overboard to see if it could find land.  It was unsuccessful.  Before she tossed in a muskrat, the muskrat told her if he died, she should look in his mouth to see if he had a bite soil–a sign the flood was ending.

The dead muskrat floated to the top with soil in its mouth.  In the Noah story, a raven and dove with an olive branch were substituted for the beaver and muskrat with mud in its mouth.

All of these myths, that of Noah and a different native one attached below, are fun to read.


11 Responses

  1. Wanna B Sure

    I can see why the natives had to use beavers and muskrats. Ravens would have been a nice touch instead of a dove. Then too, olives, especially Russian olive trees are not native to Canada, in spite of any time line you come up with, as they are considered alien and invasive “up nort”. I don’t believe the olives implied with the Noaic epic are viable across the border. Could it be that they Washed up” during the flood?” (just joking of course). I can see a paralell to the Canadian epic from Minnesota; Ole and Lena had rebelious children that wouldn’ eat their lefse, and they mated with their sisters because it was too far to row a boat across Otter Tail Lake for romance. They put their long house on a log raft, and finally setteled at Insperation Peak south of Fergus Falls. They let out a grey Jay, and it came back with a sprig of buckthorn. Ole then made a crock of mead, knocked up Lena and started all over again. Let me see now, If I remember right in the first English translation, due to the fact that lions were not rightly understood to be the top of the food chain, so wolves were used instead, because the English understood wolves, but not lions. The content and intent would have been the same, and I suppose wolves would have been just as scary to an Englishman. At least that’s how I understand it to be at this current time.

    1. Wanna 2:05 “how I understand it to be a this current time.”

      I have to confess I’m not certain I got the Nokomas flood story precisely right. The story was displayed among lots of other information by a mock up of a native scene in the Mueseum. When I saw it I took out some 3X5 cards I carry and started writing. My wife was rolling her eyes and tapping her foot while I hurried, but the beaver and muskrat parts I got right.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Winnipeg musiem right? Been there. Good show. Is the ship still there? Take the River Rouge up through the locks at Lockport to the reconstructed fort Garry, and the double decker buss back to Winnipeg with a stop at St. Andrew’s church. Nice area. Stay away from Stone Mountain, (federal prison). When we were there, the Mills Brothers were performing at the International Inn by the Airport. Had a nice lamb supper at the Old Bailey. Lots of oriental dining spots. Superb. One week isn’t enough. The Festival of Nations is worth a couple more weeks.

      2. Stan

        Love the Nunsuch Museum. What fascinates me about the flood stories in so many cultures is that there ARE so many matching stories. With so much handed down in so many places could there have been a time of traumatic flooding? Not to a depth where the tallest mountains were covered but enough that each cultures “known world” was affected. That know world does not have to be a large area either. When the population is limited to the speed of the slowest walker the world gets pretty small.

        1. entech

          Stan, I think that is a leap, a huge leap – I won’t bore you with details, fascinating as they are, of the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories, their creation stories, except to say that they had no concept of the monotheistic God or Adam and Eve. In no way can they be described as a MATCH.

          Given the long term history of the planet, of times when a lot of the water was ice, when the limits of the ice reached as far south as the Mediterranean and sea levels were so low that you the Bering Strait was a land bridge and you could walk from England to Sri Lanka without getting your feet wet, when the Middle East gulf was dry (there is a theory that the location of the actual Garden IN Eden is located in the Gulf, but inundated). Without being to Jungian about it, could there be some kind of racial memory of the time when the water levels did rise with catastrophic effect. This would explain the widespread flood stories and the differences between them, based on local conditions and mythologies.

          1. Stan

            I did say “so many matching”. I didn’t say ALL matched did I? And I made no claims about the religiosity of them being part of monotheism. I would say you are doing the stretching my friend.

            “Without being to Jungian about it, could there be some kind of racial memory of the time when the water levels did rise with catastrophic effect. This would explain the widespread flood stories and the differences between them, based on local conditions and mythologies.”

            Same thing I said with fancier words.

  2. Michael Ross

    “A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to: and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obligated to imagine one.”
    ~George Washington

    1. entech

      And imagine one he did. A failure of imagination when faced with the awe inspiring reality, too much for my little mind, therefore God.

    2. Michael 5:55 “…that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obligated to imagine one.”

      In all due respect for our President George, who disliked sitting in church and left before communion, there had to have been those alive during his time, and there are many today, who are awed by nature but do not feel obligated to make up a god to explain it all.