Indian Creation Story

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Indian Creation Story


Karen Kupperman (professor of history at New York University) vividly retells the creation story of the Powhatan Indians. This audio clip is an excerpt from an interview originally aired during week of September 30, 2006 on the radio program With Good Reason, hosted by Sarah McConnell and produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.


VFH Radio, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


VFH Radio


September 30, 2006


Courtesy of VFH Radio




Potomac River

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Sarah McConell: Did the traditional Christian creation story and the Indian creation story have anything in common?

Karen Kupperman: Neither one of them of course is a completely straight-forward story and there is this incident in which Henry Spelman, who was one of these young boys left with Indians including the leader Japazeus who lived up on the Potomac. An English ship came into the Potomac and one of the men was reading the Bible and Japazeus said he would like to know what the book said. And so the captain took the book, turned it to a picture of the creation of the world, and told Spelman to explain this picture to Japazeus. We don’t know what he said, but then Japazeus said, ‘I will now tell you my people’s creation story” and Japazeus said that there had originally been five gods; the four winds and a mighty, great hare and that the four winds each ruled one section of the world, then the hare made people but put them in a great bag and then the hare went on to make the water and the land and stock the water with fish and put deer on the land and then the men and women he took out of the bag and placed them upon the earth and each area received one couple. So this is what the people in Jamestown knew of an Indian creation story.





VFH Radio, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Indian Creation Story,” Virginia Indian Archive, accessed August 12, 2022,

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