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Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Nanticoke People's legend.

The Nanticoke People's legend.

Hi dear friends and followers, we begin another Native American legend as told by the Nanticoke People.  

The Nanticoke People were the original inhabitants of the western shore of the Delaware Bay and that part of the State of Maryland known as the Eastern Shore

They lived off the land as hunters, fishermen, trappers and, to some extent, farmers.

The Nanticoke enjoyed the best of native lifestyles. They were proficient farmers, planting corn and beans, and drying them for later use. Women and children cared for lush gardens of corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, and tobacco. They gathered nuts, berries, birds' eggs, and edible plants in season. As they lived close to the rivers, in warmer months, they dined on delicious seafood, including clams, oysters, mussels, crabs, eels, and fish. Nets, snares, baskets, weirs, and spears were fashioned by the men to harvest the water's bounty. The men hunted the forests and meadows of the Eastern Shore for squirrels, turkeys, deer, opossums, rabbits, bear, partridges, ducks and geese.

Food was roasted over open fires or boiled in clay pots as a stew. Bows, arrows, and spears were used for larger game and snares or traps were set for smaller animals. All parts of the animals and sea creatures were utilized. Shells were used for spoons, bowls, wampum, and ornate decorations. Porcupine quills, furs, skins, sinew, and bones were used for clothing and tool implements.

Nanticoke housing was a wigwam that was made very much like those made by the Iroquois or other northeastern peoples. Groups lived in a longhouse. They established villages as well.

I searched many sources for legends told by the Nanticoke People, and found but one that was called “reliable” by its source. It is a Creation Mythology that might seem familiar to you. I can only guess that there was some sort of Great Flood and Native American diaspora because of the similarity of creation myths.
This retelling, which is one of the versions currently told among the Nanticoke-Lenape tribal communities of the Delaware Bay region, also includes the role of Muskrat, which is recorded to have traditionally been an animal of some mythological significance among the Nanticoke, as documented by James Athearn Jones [Traditions of the North American Indians: Tales of an Indian Camp, vol.II. London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830. pp. 49-91].

After the Great Spirit and creator of all, “He-Who-Creates-Us-By-Thought,” brought the world into being, there came a time very long ago when the animals were living in deep water with no dry land. They grew weary of being wet and wanted to find a way to bring up the mud from under the water.

From the greatest to the least, each one dove under the water. One by one they tried to dive deep enough to bring up some of the mud. And, one by one, they failed, being unable to dive so deep and so long. It seemed as though none could bring up the mud from the bottom. All came back to the surface, gasping for air. It seemed an impossible task, for none was willing to risk their life to bring up the mud.

Finally, after all the others had tried and failed, humble Muskrat took his turn. Muskrat dove deep and was under the water for a very long, long time. The other animals feared that Muskrat had drowned, for he stayed below the water much longer than any of them had. When Muskrat finally came back up to the surface, he was exhausted and close to death. The animals saw that there was a clump of mud scraped from the bottom in Muskrat’s paw. Humble Muskrat had risked his life to dive deeper than any of them had in order to bring the mud up from the bottom.

“He-Who-Creates-Us-By-Thought” summoned Turtle to the surface of the water and placed the mud from Muskrat’s paw upon the back of Turtle. “He-Who-Creates-Us-By-Thought” caused the mud to grow, covering Turtle’s back. As Turtle continued to raise his back, more water drained off and the mud that grew and grew became dry, becoming the land. And the animals had dry land to live upon.

One day, in the middle of the land upon Turtle’s back, there grew a tree. From that tree grew a shoot. And, from that shoot sprouted a man. The man would have been all alone, but then the tree grew another shoot. And, from that shoot sprouted a woman. This was the first man and the first woman. They are the ancestors of us all.

Thank you again for dropping in to read this Native American legend. I hope you have enjoyed. I would appreciate knowing what your thoughts are on this topic. Thank you and have a wonderful week.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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