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The Relationship of Animals and Humans

Animals played key roles in many creation myths. They were viewed as equals by the humans. The myths told of Ňa time in which men and animals lived together...and no sexual, social or economic tensions are presentÓ (Long 20). The roles of the animals in the myths may have reflected the feelings of the individual culture for animals.

The water animals in the Iroquois creation myth save the Sky Woman from falling into the ocean that covered the Earth. After saving the Woman the animals built an island for her to live on. Without their help the Sky Woman may have perished and the human race never have existed. Iroquois Native Americans respected animals very much. They acknowledge how greatly they rely on animals to support their needs.

According to the African Bushmen all the creatures of the earth once lived in an underground world. In this place humans and animals lived together peacefully. They could understand each other and did not fear each other. Later all this changed, but at one time there was equality among animals and people. Similar to the Iroquois people, the Bushmen did not waste nature's gifts. They only hunted and gathered what was necessary to their survival. The Bushmen recognize animals as being more important than the Western world deemed them.

In these two myths the animals played an essential role. Without them the creation myths would lack a major element; the creation of land in the Iroquois myth and the creation of suffering in the Bushmen myth. Their role represented the necessity animals played in the lives of these groups of people.

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