Stories & Songs: Creation Story

Dreamers & The Land | CREATION STORY


Just like the creation story in the Bible, we Dane-zaa people have our own story about how the world was created. This story has been passed along through our oral tradition. It is sacred to us, and provides a base for all our other stories about the land, people, and animals.

Our children today still enjoy listening to these stories. As they hear our "wise stories," and personal experiences from their parents and grandparents, our children come to understand the history and culture of our people. In this way, we keep our oral traditions alive.

Charlie Yahey told us about Tsááyaa, our culture hero, who overcame giant animals that used to hunt people by placing them beneath the earth. Yahey also explained that oil and gas extraction releases the grease of the giant animals from below our land; and through this industrial oil and gas extraction, our people and our way of life are under threat.

This is a translation of what Charlie Yahey said in 1968:

That guy - Tsááyaa - started to work on the world so everything would be straight for today. Some of the giant animals he didn't kill. He just chased them under that place. That's why the ground goes high. He also sent giant fish underneath and that is why even today white men drill a hole to them to get their fat. The oil that they get is the fat of the giant animals.

Tsááyaa made everything straight for this world of ours. He knew it before. That is why they get gas from down under the ground. They look all over for it and then find it underneath. God made that for the white people. That is what the person and I know. I tell the story - true story.

(excerpt from R. Ridington, Trail to Heaven 1988:121-122)

In the beginning, there was only water. The Creator drew a cross on the water. He invited the animals to dive down and bring back dirt from the bottom. Muskrat finally succeeded and floated to the surface with a speck of dirt under his fingernail. The Creator placed that dirt at the center of the cross and told it to grow. It grew until it was large enough to support people and animals.

Summary of Charlie Yahey's Creation Story, 1968.