In the beginning there was no light, and everywhere there was water.
From the north a raft came, carrying Turtle. A feather rope fell down from the sky. Earth Starter came down the rope, tied it to the raft, and boarded it. He wore a mask, but through it his face shone like the very sun. Earth starter sat there quietly, looking at Turtle.
‘Where did you come from?’ Turtle asked.
‘From way up there.’ said Earth Starter, pointing at the sky.
‘I would like it if you would make me some dry land to stand on now and then,’ said Turtle. ‘Will you be putting people on the earth?’
‘Yes, I will.’ Earth Starter replied.
‘When will you do that?’
‘Sometime. If you want me to make you some dry land, though, you will have to get me some earth.’
Turtle got ready to dive under the water to find some earth. Earth Starter tied a rock around Turtle’s wrist and tied the feather rope to Turtle’s leg.
‘If the rope is not long enough, I’ll give it a single tug.’ Turtle said. ‘If it is long enough, I’ll get some earth and then tug on the rope twice, and then you can pull me up.’
Then he dove over the side. But he stayed down there under the water for six years. When he came up he was covered with mud. He had only a little bit of earth, stuck under his claws. Earth Starter scraped this earth form Turtle’s claws and rolled it in his hands. The little ball grew and grew until it was as big as the world.
‘Good’, said Turtle. ‘Now can you make some light?’
So Earth Starter called his sister, the Sun, from the east and his brother, the Moon, from the west. And so the earth and its light were created.
(recorded in the early 1900s by Anthropologist A. E. Kroeber: creation of the Maidu a native people of central california)