The Oneida Creation Story


The Oneida Creation Story

Demus Elm and Harvey Antone
Translated and edited by Floyd G. Lounsbury and Bryan Gick

Sources of American Indian Oral Literature Series

174 pages


June 2000


$15.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Oneida Creation Story is the oldest tradition of the Onyota’aka (People of the Standing Stone) and is one of the greatest pieces of oral literature of Native North America. Ancient elements of Iroquoian cosmology are the heart of the saga: Sky-world, the fall of Sky-woman, the creation of Earth upon Turtle’s back, and the creation of mankind and early society by the twins. Various versions have been passed down from generation to generation, but the story has never before been published in the Oneida language. The Oneida Creation Story makes this majestic and beautiful story available in both Oneida and English for the first time. This special bilingual edition also features earlier translated versions of the Creation Story, a discussion of its cultural and historical contexts by Oneida Indian historian Anthony Wonderley, and lexicons cross-referenced to the story.

Author Bio

Oneida elder Demus Elm first told the Oneida Creation Story to the renowned linguist Floyd G. Lounsbury in 1971. Lounsbury is the author of Oneida Verb Morphology and other works. The transcription and translation of the story were completed with the assistance of Harvey Antone, a relative of Demus Elm, and Bryan Gick. Gick is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics and Speech Sciences at the University of British Columbia.


"This exemplary work of scholarship, attractively produced in a maximally useful format, is an important contribution to Iroquoian linguistic studies that will appeal to students and faculty in linguistics, anthropology, folklore, and history, as well as to a general audience interested in American Indians."—Choice

"This is the first time that the Oneida Creation Story, perhaps the most completely documented representation of human and world origins in North America, has been simultaneously reproduced in English and the Oneida language. . . . Lounsbury (Oneida Verb Morhology) and Gick (linguistics, Univ. of British Columbia) have done a great service to Oneida linguistic studies, the discipline of linguistics, and, most importantly, the efforts to preserve the Oneida language."—Library Journal

"This major study of a specific and essential Oneida text, including numerous aspects of linguistic analysis, includes references to the forty earlier translated versions of various Iroquoian creation stories."—Marshall Joseph Becker, Journal of American Folklore