I’m just writing a brief post to back up something I said on The Atheist Experience this weekend, because it’s something I’ve found funny for years, but I had a hard time finding afterwards.
While talking about creation myths with a caller, I mentioned that there was a Native American tribe whose myth involved creating humans by baking them like cookies. Actually, it turns out it was clay, but I was pretty close.
This story comes from the The Potawatomi tribe of Wisconsin. According to the source, it was copied from a 1947 book called Indian Fireside Tales.
Earthmaker made the world with trees and fields, with rivers, lakes, and springs, and with hills and valleys. It was beautiful. However, there weren’t any humans, and so one day he decided to make some.
He scooped out a hole in a stream bank and lined the hole with stones to make a hearth, and he built a fire there. Then he took some clay and made a small figure that he put in the hearth. While it baked, he took some twigs and made tongs. When he pulled the figure out of the fire and had let it cool, he moved its limbs and breathed life into it, and it walked away. Earthmaker nonetheless realized that it was only half-baked. That figure became the white people.
Earthmaker decided to try again, and so he made another figure and put it on the hearth. This time he took a nap under a tree while the figure baked, and he slept longer than he intended. When he pulled the second figure out of the fire and had let it cool, he moved its limbs and breathed life into it, and it walked away. Earthmaker realized that this figure was overbaked, and it became the black people.
Earthmaker decided to try one more time. He cleaned the ashes out of the hearth and built a new fire. Then he scooped up some clay and cleaned it of any twigs or leaves, so that it was pure. He made a little figure and put it on the hearth, and this time he sat by the hearth and watched carefully as the figure baked. When this figure was done, he pulled it out of the fire and let it cool. Then he moved its limbs and breathed life into it, and it walked away. This figure was baked just right, and it became the red people.
So, yeah, as the caller was saying, I’m sure the ancients had massive amounts of wisdom that is now lost to us. All the same, I’d rather stick to scientific investigation over putting unreasoning trust in things people said, just because they said them a long time ago.