According to “the world on turtle’s back,” which best demonstrates the iroquois view of women?

According to “the world on turtle’s back,” which best demonstrates the iroquois view of women?

Unveiling the Iroquois Matriarchy

The Iroquois, a Native American confederacy consisting of six tribes, holds a rich cultural tapestry with profound insights into the roles and significance of women. Central to their cultural understanding is the creation story, ‘The World on Turtle’s Back,’ which serves as a gateway to unraveling the Iroquois vision of women as wise and revered keepers of knowledge.


The Skyworld and the Birth of Humanity

In the Iroquois creation narrative, the Skyworld is a celestial realm where life unfolds. The story tells of a pregnant Sky Woman who falls from this ethereal space, landing on the back of a giant turtle. Symbolizing the Earth, the turtle becomes the canvas upon which creation is painted. This act of falling from the Skyworld is not a mere event but an intentional descent, embodying the concept of divine purpose.

Women as Life Givers and Nurturers

Life-giving is a central theme in ‘The World on Turtle’s Back,’ and women are the vessels through which life is perpetuated. The Iroquois view women as more than biological mothers; they are spiritual conduits connecting the human realm to the divine. In this context, women are revered as the nurturers of both physical and spiritual well-being. The act of Sky Woman giving birth to twins, one representing good and the other evil, symbolizes the dualities inherent in life and the role of women in balancing these forces.

The Sacred Femininity

Harmony in Duality

The Iroquois see the world as a delicate balance of opposing forces. Women, as depicted in the creation story, are instrumental in maintaining this equilibrium. The twins born to Sky Woman, embodying contrasting principles, reflect the duality inherent in nature. Women, therefore, are the mediators of this duality, possessing the innate ability to reconcile opposites and bring about harmony. Their role extends beyond the domestic sphere, positioning them as crucial agents in preserving the cosmic balance.

The Symbolism of Mother Earth

In ‘The World on Turtle’s Back,’ the Earth is not merely a physical entity but a living, breathing being. The turtle, upon whose back the world is created, is a symbolic representation of Mother Earth. Women, in the Iroquois worldview, are closely associated with the Earth—they are its stewards and protectors. The connection between women and the environment is profound, emphasizing a holistic approach to life where the well-being of humanity is intricately intertwined with the health of the Earth.


Beyond Creation: Women as Guardians of Wisdom

The Oral Tradition

Central to the Iroquois culture is the transmission of knowledge through oral tradition. Women, as the primary caretakers of children, play a pivotal role in passing down the cultural heritage from one generation to the next. The wisdom encapsulated in stories, rituals, and traditions is entrusted to women, positioning them as the guardians of the collective Iroquois consciousness.

The Council of Wise Women

The Iroquois Confederacy is renowned for its democratic governance structure, and at the heart of this structure lies the influence of women. The Clan Mothers, a group of elder women, hold significant sway in decision-making processes. Their wisdom, earned through a lifetime of experience and connection to the spiritual realm, ensures a balanced and just society. In this way, the Iroquois honor and recognize the unique perspective that women bring to matters of governance and community well-being.


In ‘The World on Turtle’s Back,’ the Iroquois offer us a profound glimpse into their worldview—one where women are not just bearers of life but are essential participants in the cosmic dance of creation and maintenance. The symbolic richness of the creation story reveals the depth of the Iroquois vision of women as Wisdom Keepers. From the sacred act of birth to the guardianship of knowledge and governance, women are integral to the intricate tapestry of Iroquois culture. Understanding this vision allows us to appreciate the significance of women as not only contributors to their community but as essential agents in sustaining the delicate balance of life itself.