How the People Came to the Middle Place

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There are various diverse creation myths from Native American cultures, though many hold similar characteristics. One of the more common forms of creation myth seems to be emergence myth. Generally, in the emergence myth, instead of seeing how the world is created, we see how the people arrive in an already created world. This particular story type is commonly found in Native American cultures from the southwest (Ryan). The Tewa Pueblo version of this myth, entitled How the People Came to the Middle Place, has been collected and written down by the anthropologists Alice Marriott and Carol K. Rachlin in their book, American Indian Mythology. The myth was told to them by two separate sources, Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso and Leonidas Vigil of Nambe Pueblo. This myth helps to illustrate important parts of their culture and probably held multiple functions for the Pueblo people.
The emergence myth differs greatly from the common western Christian way of thinking. In Christianity, humans were once in a perfect place until they disobeyed God and were sent into the current world, which is thought of as a punishment. In the Tewa Pueblo emergence myth, the people are stuck in a place of darkness until their friend, the Mole, helps lead them to a new world (Marriott, Rachlin 66-67). They do not view this world as their punishment but as a good place, improved from where they were before. Many of the things that appear in this myth are characteristic of other Native American myths as well. For example, Mole is an animal but talks and acts similarly to a human. This shows the great respect that the culture held for animals. They did not believe that they were superior to or dominant over the animals. They recognized their differences to th...

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...me to be and what the constellations are may have been told separately before they were a part of this story. It would not be surprising if this is what happened since most Native American mythology was told orally. In conclusion, this myth was probably very important to the Pueblo people and helps to illuminate some of the most important parts of their culture and beliefs.

Works Cited

Leeming, David. "Native North American Mythology." The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. N.p.: Oxford University Press, 2005. Oxford Reference. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.
Marriott, Alice, and Carol K. Rachlin. "How the People Came to the Middle Place -- Tewa."American Indian Mythology. New York: Crowell, 1968. 65-72. Print.
Ryan, John Barry. "Native American Creation Myths." Encyclopedia of American Studies. N.p.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.
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