As stated in part one of our series, anthropology is the science dealing with human beings. This particular science reinforces the truths that are presented in the Bible from Genesis 1 through 11. We are able to say this boldly since nearly every culture on earth possesses its own story of creation, flood, and the dispersal of man. It is not until after these three key events that the cultures of mankind then begin developing independently of one another. This is exactly what we would expect if the Biblical account of God’s dispersing man were true. After man separated and settled different areas of our world, he would have then become free of the influence of others in the regards to his own people’s development. So then, he would only share in common with his global neighbors the history of their past. Last time, we saw this truth in the creation stories of Native Americans. The Native American stories were chosen in order to avoid the argument of liberal scholars that their beliefs could have been somehow influenced by the beliefs of the Mesopotamian cultures regarded as the oldest ones in the world.
As we saw in our last article, most Native American creation stories begin with a dark, watery world devoid of land. Some might interpret such as an amalgamation of the creation and flood stories of the Bible. These events, however, are presented as separate events in the Native American legends. Ake Hultkrantz states:
The myth of the primal sea should be kept separate from the legend (or myth) of the great flood, which is recorded in America from the Eskimos and Hare Indians in the north to the Araucanians in the south. The myth of the primal sea is a creation myth, whereas the tale of the flood is a legend (although dating to archaic times) of how all men except for a couple of individuals were drowned in a great deluge which covered all the land. The two who escaped took refuge on a raft or an oak log (common in North American versions) or on top of a mountain or a palm tree (frequent in the South American legends). The primal sea represents primordial chaos, while the great flood is chaos of a later date, caused, for example, by the wrath of a god or the transgression of a taboo (pp. 30-31).
Having established this truth, then, let us begin by examining the flood stories of the Native Americans living in North America.
Among the Cherokee, it is told that a man was warned by his dog of an impending flood (Mooney 1). Having been thus warned, the man built a raft upon which he and his family would escape the ravages of the flood (2). They filled the raft with provisions and it began to rain (3). The rain did not cease until the tops of all of the mountains were covered and all other people were drowned (4).
Similarities with the Cherokee story are seen in the stories of other North American tribes. The Natchez likewise relate that a man was warned of the impending flood by his dog (Swanton 1). This man’s dog, however, stated that the flood would occur in four days (2). The dog advised the man to build a raft upon which he could escape (3). Then the dog told him to gather all of the wood that he could so that he could keep a little fire burning on the raft to keep him warm (4). Once he had built the raft, the dog told him to secure his raft to the land using a hickory rope. Otherwise he said that the raft would drift into the ocean (5). After four days, the mountains burst open and water poured out from them flooding everything (6). The man and his dog climbed onto the raft (7). The dog warned the man that dangerous creatures would likewise emerge from the mountains that had burst open (8). In order to fend off anything that approached the raft, the dog told the man to take a forked stick from the sumac and to push all such intruders away (9). As the water rose, people climbed trees to get away from the water but the creatures from the mountains came and devoured those people (10). The raft was lifted by the flood waters to a point above the clouds (11). The dog told the man that he would have to return to where he had been by himself, cautioning that he would have to remain on the raft an additional seven days until the earth dried out (12). Then, the dog told the man to throw him off the raft (13).
Among the Alabama it was told that it was a frog that warned a particular man about an impending flood (14). The frog told the man to build a raft with a thick layer of grass underneath it so that the beavers could not cut holes in the wood (15). As he built the raft, others asked the man what he was doing (16). When he told them, they replied that nothing like that could happen (17). When the flood came, the man and his family got onto the raft with the frog (18). The water rose until all other people drowned (19). The birds flew up to the sky and took hold of it with their bills, leaving their tails in the water (20). Amongst the Koasati, the story is nearly identical except that the creature that provided the man a warning was a lizard rather than a frog (21).
The Pima from the Southwest relate a rather lengthy and confusing flood story. Amongst the Pima’s culture heroes was a being called Seeurhuh. Seeurhuh created a man that soon began marrying, impregnating, and divorcing many different women in swift succession (Lloyd 1). The gestation period of these pregnancies were unusually short (2). Seeurhuh and Juhwerta Mahkai (another culture hero—BP) perceived this as a “convulsion” of nature that would result in a great flood that would cover the world (3). To prepare for this flood, Seeurhuh made a vessel from the gum of the grease bush (4). He told the other culture heroes that when the flood came he would climb inside his vessel (5). Juhwerta Mahkai stated that he would climb inside his walking stick and would float upon the waters of the flood (6). Juhwerta Mahkai warned the people that the flood waters would gush out from under every tree and from every mountain (7). As the flood began, some of the people ran to Juhwerta Mahkai who allowed them to enter into his walking stick with him (8). All of the other people drowned. The birds escaped the flood by clinging to the sky with their bills (9). It was the birds that would eventually cause the flood waters to be abated by their singing (10).
The Cochiti, also of the American Southwest, state that the people, knowing that there would be a great flood, built a great boat in the north among the high mountains (Benedict 1). When it was almost time for the water to rise, they filled their boat with corn and loaded onto it all of the different animals including a white pigeon (2). Once inside, the people took pitch and covered all of the cracks of the boat (3). Every living thing that was not in the boat drowned (4). When the waters subsided, the boat grounded on a high place in the mountains to the north (5). The chief sent out the white pigeon to see if the earth was uncovered again (6). The pigeon returned and told him that the water had gone but that it was a terrible sight (7). The bodies of the drowned people were pilled all over the ground (8). There was aboard the boat a crow as well (9). It was white like the pigeon (10). The crow left the boat and saw what the pigeon had described but decided that she would pick out the eyes of the dead (11). This caused her to turn black (12). When she returned to the boat, the people knew that she had done something wrong because of her altered color (13). The pigeon was sent out again and returned with a flower blossom (14). In this manner, the Cochiti state, the people were saved from “the first-ending-of-the-world-by-flood” (15). [It should be noted that these who were saved from the flood were not the Cochiti. The Cochiti believed that they emerged from the underworld after the flood (16). The narrator of the Cochiti related to Ruth Benedict that the people of their flood story were known as “last year’s crop people” (17). He said that they were Chinese and Japanese (18). They called them “last year’s crop people” because they were yellow like last year’s corn and their hair was curled up in queues (they had pigtails—BP) on their head like last year’s husks (19). The Cochiti likewise stated that another destruction of the world was coming but that it would be of fire rather than water (20).]
From a source questioned by some scholars is the flood story of the Lenâpé (Delaware—BP) as recorded in the “Walam Olum.” They state that a mighty snake, resolved to harm man, brought rushing water into the valleys where it destroyed much (Brinton 1). Nanabush, grandfather of all, survived the flood along with the Lenâpé on the back of a turtle (2). Frightened, the people prayed that what was spoiled would be restored (3). In response to their prayers, the water ran off, the earth dried, the lakes rested, all became silent, and the mighty snake departed (4).
The Miwok of California speak of their culture hero, Prairie Falcon, warning his people of an impending flood (Gifford 1). The water overtook the mountains before receding (2). The water, however, rose again until the entire world was flooded (3). Prairie Falcon and Eagle, along with the Miwok, found a piece of dry land (4). They sent out Dove to survey the situation and see how the rest of humanity fared (5). Dove reported that all human beings were dead (6). Prairie Falcon dispatched Dove and Hummingbird to bring back mud so that more earth could be created (7). This, the Miwok say, happened after all human beings had drowned and the great mountains were changed (8).
The Olamentko of California relate that Coyote-man and Falcon-man quarreled (Merriam 1). Coyote-man took all of the people across the ocean and caused it to rain until all the world was covered with water (2). Falcon-man could find no place to rest and had to fly and fly until he was tired out (3). When he could no longer fly, he fell on the water and floated around nearly dead until his wing caught on a stick (4). The stick was sticking up from the roof of the roundhouse of one of Falcon-man’s relatives. The relative found Falcon-man and pulled him inside (5). After this, Coyote-man let the water down and brought the people back (6).
Now let us look at the stories from Mexico and South America. We begin in Mexico of which Lewis Spence states:
Flood myths, curiously enough, are of more common occurrence among the Nahua and kindred peoples than creation myths (1).
In one of the stories from the Mexican aborigines, Titlacahuan warns Nata and his wife, Nena, of an impending flood (2). Nata is commanded to hollow out a large cypress and to enter it when the “water shall approach the sky” (3). When Nata and his wife entered their “ark,” Titlacahuan closed the door.
In Peru, the native population say that a man was warned by his llama that the sea would rise and engulf the earth in five days (4). The llama told the man to climb to the top of Villa-Coto and take with him enough provisions for five days (5). When the man and the llama reached the summit, they found that all kinds of birds and animals were already there (6). After five days, the water fell, and only the one man remained of the human race (7). The Peruvian natives believe that the present human race is descended from him (8).
Finally, the Incans state that Viracocha created mankind and commanded them to live without quarrelling while serving him (De Gamboa 1). Despite this admonition, though, the people became full of the vice of pride and covetousness (2). Angered by their conduct, Viracocha brought about a flood that killed all but two brothers that were spared when they climbed to the top of Gusano (3). The flood persisted for 60 days (4). Once atop the mountain, Viracocha provided for the brothers by having two women prepare and leave food for them (5). One of the brothers later drowned in a lake (6). The remaining brother married one of the women and took the other as his concubine (7). They had ten sons that formed two lineages of five each (8).
Note how these various accounts compare to God’s revelation recorded in Genesis 6 through 8. First, an individual (or individuals) are singled out in order to be spared the ravages of the flood. Genesis 6:5-8 says: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (ESV).
Second, in most of these accounts, the one that has found favor of the culture hero is told to prepare a vessel. Perhaps he is even told to fill that vessel with food and animals. At least one of the stories referred to likewise mention that pitch was used to make the vessel waterproof. Genesis 6:14 says: “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch” (ESV). Genesis 6:19-21 states, in regards to the contents of the ark:
And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them. (ESV)
Third, at least one of the stories that was related says that it was the culture hero that closed up the “ark.” This is consistent with Genesis 7:16. Note that passage: “And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in” (ESV).
Fourth, several of these stories show that the flood was caused by the “sins” of man. Note Genesis 6:5-7:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (ESV).
Fifth, the stories relate that the flood waters came in the form of rain as well as from sources under and within the earth. Notice Genesis 7:11: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” (ESV).
Sixth, the vast majority of the stories presented show that the flood was global. Note Genesis 7:18-20:
The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. (ESV)
Seventh, all living things not in the vessel or atop the one lone mountain that was not fully overcome by the water were drowned. Notice Genesis 7:21-23:
And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. (ESV)
Eighth, a bird (or birds) is sent out to survey the status of the earth. In several of the stories the birds represented are a dove and a crow (which is in the same genus as the raven though a separate bird). Genesis 8:6-11 states:
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. (ESV)
Ninth, the present people in the world are descended from the flood survivors. Genesis 8:15-19 states:
Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark. (ESV)
There are several other things related in the stories of Native Americans that seem to parallel various passages in the Bible. For example, the Miwok of California said that the mountains were changed by the flood. Notice Psalm 104:5-9:
He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. (ESV)
The Lenâpé (Delaware—BP) said that the flood was caused because the “mighty serpent” had determined to harm mankind (Brinton 5). Note the possible relation to Genesis 3:14-15:
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; (emphasis mine—BP) he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (ESV).
Finally, there is the amazing correlation between the Cochiti “prophecy” that the world would be destroyed again by fire rather than water and 2 Peter 3:5-7. Note that passage:
For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (ESV)
What are the odds that such correlations between these stories and the revealed Biblical account could be a coincidence? I think that such odds would be quite infinitesimal. These stories of the Native Americans bear testimony to the fact that there is a universal and absolute truth that was observed by all of mankind in their common past before the dispersal recorded in Genesis 11:9. The differences in the accounts result from the corruption of this truth by the Native American cultures. Paul relates how such happens in Romans 1:19-23:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (emphasis mine—BP). (ESV)
I hope that this anthropological evidence serves to strengthen your faith that the Bible is indeed God’s revelation to man.
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Hultkrantz, Ake. The Religions of the American Indians. Trans. Monica Setterwall. Los Angeles: University of Californian Press, 1979.
Mooney, James. “14. The Deluge.” Myths of the Cherokee. January-February 2001. Sacred-Texts. 15 September 2006.
Swanton, John R. “Myths and Tales of the Sotheastern Indians: Natchez Stories: 1. The Flood (2).” Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians. 1929. Sacred-Texts. 15 September 2006.
Lloyd, J. William. “Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights (Myths and Legends of the Pimas): The Story of the Flood.” Aw-aw-tam Indian Nights: Myths and Legends of the Pimas. 1911. Sacred-Texts. 15 September 2006.
Benedict, Ruth. “Tales of the Cochiti Indians: I. Origin Tales and Stories of the Katcinas: The Flood.” Tales of the Cochiti Indians. 1932. Sacred-Texts. 15 September 2006.
Brinton, Daniel G. “The Walam Olum: Part II.” The Walam Olum excerpt from The Lenâpé and Their Legends. July 2003. Sacred-Texts. 16 September 2006.
Gifford, Edward Winslow. “6. The Flood.” Miwok Myths. 1917. Sacred-Texts. 16 September 2006.
Merriam, C. Hart. “Dawn of the World: Part I: Ancient Myths: How Wek-wek Was Saved From The Flood.” The Dawn of the World. 1910. Sacred-Texts. 16 September 2006.
Spence, Lewis. “Chapter III: Myths and Legends of the Ancient Mexicans.” The Myths of Mexico and Peru. 1913. Sacred-Texts. 15 September 2006.
De Gamboa, Pedro Sarmiento. Trans. Clements Markham. “Viracocha and the Coming of the Incas.” Viracocha And The Coming Of The Incas from “History of the Incas.” 1907. Sacred-Texts. 19 September 2006.