​The Earth on Turtle's Back

(Onondaga-Northeast Woodlands)

Retold by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac


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1. What is the time period and how does it affect the literary style?

This story is a legend that was written by the Onondaga Tribe. It was most likely written before the Europeans came to America in the late 1400’s. There is no exact time period in which it was written. This legend was passed down from generation to generation. The time in which it was written affected the literary style by making it an origin myth. At that time Native Americans would tell stories about how things were created, and each story also had something to teach.

2. What is the author's purpose in writing the selected piece?

The author’s purpose in writing this legend is to describe the creation of the earth. The author also shows that weaker and smaller animals can accomplish things that larger and stronger animals have failed to complete. The author wants to teach people that just because you are larger and stronger doesn’t mean you will always complete every task, but if you have determination nothing will stand in your way.

3. What literary techniques does the author employ in achieving his or her purpose?

The author uses imagery to help the reader imagine what is happening. This helps the reader understand the story more by being able to picture it in their head. The author also used repetition. For example, when the Muskrat was swimming the author repeated the idea of swimming deeper. This showed how much determination the Muskrat had to have to keep going.

4. How is the literature characteristic of the time period?

This literature shows the Onondaga Tribe's beliefs on how the earth was created. At this time there wasn’t a scientific explanation for how the earth was created. People would just come up with their own theories. The author felt that this was how the earth was created.

Section 1
1. The Earth on Turtle's Back 2. When Grizzlies Walked Upright 3. from The Navajo Origin Legend 4. from The Iroquois Constitution
Section 2
1. A Journey Through Texas 2. Boulders Taller Than the Great Tower of Seville 3. from The interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano 4. Diamond Island: Alcatraz
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