Cave paintings were hand-drawn paintings of Iroquois origin. They were located in various caves across the American colonies, and depicted the Legend of the Sky Woman.

Cave paintings

In the first days of the world, the Earth was covered with water. There was no light in the sky, neither sun at day nor stars or moon at night.

Under the surface lived the water animals. Loon, Kingfisher, Otter, Muckrat... they all live in darkness.

In the sky, the Great Spirit sat beneath the branches of a glowing apple tree with roots that sank into the clouds.

One day, the Great Spirit called to his daughter, the Sky Woman. He pulled up the tree so she could look down to the Earth.

"How can they live in such darkness and chaos?" asked the Sky Woman. The Great Spirit replied, "If you desire you can bring them light and order."

The Great Spirit gathered up the Sky Woman in his hands and gently lowered her down. When he let go, she began to fall slowly towards the earth.

The water animals lifted their heads and looked up in wonder at the glowing woman in the sky. “What will happen when she reaches the water?” they asked one another.

All the animals dove as deep as they could to find land. None could hold their breath long enough until finally, Muskrat brought up a little bit of earth in his paws.

A great turtle arrived, and Muskrat put the earth on his back. The turtle grew and the earth multiplied until they became a great island, which men now call North America.

From beneath the water, the swans flew up to meet The Sky Woman. They caught her and carefully set her down upon the new land.

The Sky Woman thanked the animals. “How I can give this land spirit,” she said. She then gave birth to twin sons.

The son who was born first was born laughing, and was called the Good Spirit. The son who was born second caused the Sky Woman so much pain that she died. He was called the Evil Spirit.

The Good Spirit grieved for his mother. But he took her eyes and raised them into the sky, so one could become the sun and the other the moon. Her tears became the stars. This way, the world would no longer be in darkness.

The Good Spirit buried what was left of his mother under the earth to nourish the soil. All the trees and plants would grow out of her.

Meanwhile, while the Good Spirit Worked in the light, the Evil Spirit did mischief within the shadows.

The Evil Spirit crossed the land, moving from shadow to shadow. “I will ruin everything my brother has made!” he said.

And so, when the Good Spirit made strong trees and swift deer, the Evil Spirit made poisonous berries and stinging insects.

Finally, the Good Spirit took red clay from the earth and made humans. He taught humans how to speak and live together. The jealous Evil Spirit made himself servants out of sea foam.

The Good Spirit saw that his creations heeded his words, and were capable of wisdom. He wished that they might live forever in harmony.

The Good Spirit saw the mischief that his brother did and knew that even his help would not be enough. He told his brother to stop making trouble, but the Evil Spirit Refused.

Knowing that his brother would respect only violence, the Good Spirit reluctantly challenged the Evil Spirit to combat. The winner would rule the world.

The Good Spirit and his people united and triumphed over the Evil Spirit. He banished his brother to a cave beneath the earth.

On the surface, though, some of the Evil Spirit’s servants swill wandered from shadow to shadow. Their influence causes men to do evil things.

This is why there is still evil in the world. But people can also cast out this evil and find the good spirit within. All people can choose the path they follow.


  • The Legend of the Sky Woman is narrated by Onatah.