Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscapes of Turtle Island
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Native American Turtle Mythology
"Turtles play positive roles in the folklore of many Native American tribes. In the creation myths of some East Coast tribes (such as the Iroquois and Lenape), the Great Spirit created their homeland by placing earth on the back of a giant turtle. This is why some contemporary Native Americans refer to North America as "Turtle Island." In Plains Indian tribes, turtles are associated with long life, protection, and fertility. In some Plains tribes, a newborn girl's umbilical cord was sewn into a figure in the shape of a turtle to ensure her health and safety. In other tribes, turtles are associated with healing, wisdom, and spirituality.
Turtles are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Turtle Clans include the Chippewa (whose Turtle Clan and its totem are called Mikinaak,) the Menominee (whose Mud Turtle Clan is named Maehkaenah,) the Huron-Wyandot (who at one point had four different turtle clans: mud turtle, water turtle, striped turtle, and great turtle,) and the Abenaki, Shawnee, and Iroquois tribes. The turtle was also the special tribal emblem of the Lenape Delawares, who have a Turtle Dance among their tribal dance traditions."