Category Archives: Technology

Cyberterrorism vs. WMD

Perhaps in an Orwellian society where computers are independant and there is very little human-to-computer interaction could a cyberterrorist cause such an impact as to be equal with a weapon of mass destruction. This is not true, however, regarding the technology of today. According to James Lewis (2002) from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “cyber attacks are less effective and less disruptive than physical attacks. Their only advantage is that they are cheaper and easier to carry out than a physical attack” (p. 2). Studies of the implementation of efforts to reduce the effectiveness of infrastructure during war show a resiliency that is poorly respected. Redundant systems in conjunction with a focused human response provides mitigation to reduce the impact of disruptive efforts on infrastructure (Wilson, 2005). It seems the more important the system, the larger and focalized the response.

The northeast blackout of 2003 provides a decent case study, although the cause was a systems failure and not related to terrorism. According to the article by Minkle (2008), within an hour and a half, 50-million subscribers lost power in eight states and parts of Canada for a few days, yet it only contributed to about 11 deaths within the affected area. While the impact was significant, geographically, it was more or less a nuisance for most people.


Lewis, J. A. (2002, December). Assessing the risks of cyber terrorism, cyber war and other cyber threats. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved from

Minkle, J. R. (2008, August 13). The 2003 northeast blackout — five years later. Scientific American. Retrieved from

Wilson, C. (2005, April 1). Computer attack and cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and policy issues for Congress (CRS Congressional report No. RL32114). Retrieved from

Planning a Terrorist Attack

Planning a clandestine attack using a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is not simple. First, in order to promote an attack, the target needs to be viewed to have violated some ideology, policy, or other deeply held belief (“Terrorism, definition and history of,” 2002). Usually, a symbol of the offense will be chosen as either a specific target, such as the case of the World Trade Center, or as a vehicle or vector for the attack, as in the case of the U.S. Postal Service anthrax attacks (“Biological terrorism,” 2002; Marshall, 2002; “Weapons of mass destruction,” 2002). The dollar is an international symbol of capitalism and the might of the United States. In the current climate, especially with the declining U.S. economy, I would expect the money supply, itself, to be a viable vector for disseminating some sort of substance capable of causing terror. A dollar bill has a circulating life of 42 months and changes hands, on average, twice a day, and by impregnating paper money with a chosen substance, a single dollar bill could potentially harm more than 2,500 people during its circulation (U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving, n.d.).

Almost as important as the vehicle is the impregnating substance. Chemical and radiological substances would be too easy to eventually detect, and the amount dispersed on each dollar bill might not be enough to cause harm. A live biological agent suspended in an aqueous nutrient solution could easily coat a dollar bill without detection and easily transfer to hands, surfaces, and other bills. According to Winfield and Groisman (2003), Salmonella enterica might prove to be a hardy pathogen capable of existing in such a solution for months. S. enterica is responsible for typhoid fever in humans. Escherichia coli, though a highly pathenogenic mycobacterium, does not have the same persistance outside of a living host. Both S. enterica and E. coli have detrimental health effects, especially for those with deficient immune systems.

Delivery and dispersion of the weapon would be the next consideration. This would have to be accomplished using a number of distribution points, geographically distant, that transfer small denomination bills easily both in and out, such as gasoline stations, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, and liquor stores. Using a website designed to track dollar bills (, a single bill has been tracked in about two and a half years, as follows: Florida, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Arizona, Oregon, New York, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Another has been documented as travelling from Ohio to Michigan via Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Texas, and Utah in a mere 212 days. This is evidence that general dispersion techniques will work well if initially geographically distributed.

Additionally, as the Salmonella bills are being dispersed, I would encourage a technological attack on various credit card networks. If the hacking results in increased network downtime, the American citizenry would be encouraged to use paper money more often, potentiating the transfer of the Salmonella bills. As a final coup de grace, when the American populace finally begin to realize that the money supply, itself, is tainted, I would encourage conventional attacks on banking institutions to include random bombings, shootings, and threats of the same. This would further drive the message against the U.S. money supply and could crash the economy.

This plan was developed in about twenty minutes. The terrorists of the day have had decades to consider such plans, and I for one am glad that they tend to be grandiose. When the terrorists realize the simplicity required of causing terror in the U.S., we need to be very wary.


Biological terrorism. (2002). Encyclopedia of terrorism. Retrieved from

Marshall, P. (2002, February 22). Policing the borders. CQ Researcher, 12, 145-168. Retrieved from

Terrorism, definition and history of. (2002). Encyclopedia of terrorism. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving. (n.d.). FAQ library. Retrieved from

Weapons of mass destruction. (2002). Encyclopedia of terrorism. Retrieved from

Winfield, M. D. & Groisman, E. A. (2003). Role of Nonhost Environments in the Lifestyles of Salmonella and Escherichia coli. Applied Environmental Microbiology, 69(7), 3687-3694. doi:10.1128/AEM.69.7.3687-3694.2003

National Incident Management System

The National Incident Management System [NIMS] is a dynamic continuum of interrelated processes designed to allow for the systematic response to any incident, large or small, using standardized practices that transcend political and geographical boundaries and can be adopted easily without regard to specialty or professional focus (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], n.d.; Walsh et al., 2012). The five component philosophies of NIMS are:

  1. preparedness,
  2. communications and information management,
  3. resource management,
  4. command and management, and
  5. ongoing management and maintenance.

I have not included ‘supporting technologies’ as a component of NIMS merely because it is supportive in both description and function.

Supporting technologies are used to further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of NIMS by providing tools that help to streamline processes (Walsh et al., 2012). Supporting technologies has to be the least important on the list as it can be used to facilitate each of the others, but the effectiveness of NIMS is not contingent on this component.

The strongest, or most important component, is arguably preparedness. Kirkwood (2008) outlines the importance of training when dealing with large and small events across multiple jurisdictions and demonstrates how preparing for the eventuality of an emergency allows for a greater degree of critical thinking without the burden of the emergency, itself. However, as NIMS is a continuum of systems and processes, each of the five components is strikingly important to the others and can be either complimentary or detrimental in the end.


Kirkwood, S. (2008). NIMS and ICS: from compliance to competence. EMS Magazine, 37(2), 51-2, 54-7. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency. (n.d.). NIMS FAQ. Retrieved from

Walsh, D. W., Christen, H. T., Callsen, C. E., Miller, G. T., Maniscalco, P. M., Lord, G. C., & Dolan, N. J. (2012). National Incident Management System: principles and practice (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Scrutinizing the Literature of EMR

 As I scrutinize Dimitropoulos and Rizk (2009) for possible inclusion in a literature review for my research, I find it both promising and troubling. The article appears to be pertinent to my research question of how various laws and practices might adversely affect shared access of electronic health records; however, it is important to understand if this article is a documentation of primary research or a review of existing research, and as I describe below, this is unclear. This lack of clarity obscures other facets of the article that important to a researcher. These are also described below.

Initially, the work of Dimitropoulos and Rizk appears to be pertinent to my research based on the title and the publication in which it appears. Health Affairs is a respected journal within the realm of public health research, practice, and instruction, and it is ranked seventh of all health policy and service journals by Journal Ranking ( Publication within Health Affairs does not degrade the reputation of the authors and serves only to promote their work to their peers. As my research is within the realm of public health, Health Affairs is an obvious avenue to pursue for relevant work, and as this article by Dimitropoulos and Rizk appears to reflect a specific focus on the relationship between privacy laws and the ability, or lack thereof, to share health information, it appears to have relevance.

According to the abstract, Dimitropoulos and Rizk (2009) examine how variations is state (and, territorial) privacy laws might inhibit sharing health information via an central exchange, or repository. Though it would seem plausible for Dimitropoulos and Rizk to conduct their own research, the abstract seems to imply that they are merely reporting on the findings of a committee charged with examining such irregularities in privacy laws amongst the states and territories, presumably, of Canada. After reading the report, though, I find a disconnect between the abstract and the article. In the abstract, it appears more as if the authors are detached reporters, but within the body of the article, it seems as though they appear to take ownership of the primary research. This is confusing as it was plainly stated that the research was conducted by a large consortium of state officials: “the project initially engaged organizations in thirty-four … and later … forty-two jurisdictions. This collaborative work is commonly referred to as the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration (HISPC)” (p. 429).

This report is confusing to read as the perspective shifts frequently between first- and third-person. Additionally, the authors describe opinions formed and emotions felt during the primary research (opinions and emotions that only the primary researchers could know), yet it is unclear if these were transmitted through other writing or if the authors formed and felt these themselves. It is unclear whether the authors, Dimitropoulos and Rizk (2009), were participating researchers or merely reporters.

Both authors are noted to work for RTI International’s Survey Research Division, yet this corporation is not credited with any of the original research (Dimitropoulos & Rizk, 2009). I would have to conduct further research into the authors, their employer, and the project, itself, in order to make a final determination of the credibility of this article. This research would, hopefully, give the authors’ words better context, also. Complicating this is the absence of clearly delineated references, although a few appear within the Notes section that appear to be worth investigating.

Dimitropoulos and Rizk (2009) describe an effort to create a cohesive environment that will enhance the ability to share health information throughout a number of jurisdictions. As such, there is no scientific inquiry and it follows that adherence to the scientific method would be inappropriate. Again, however, it is unclear if this research is original or not.

In closing, it appears that Dimitropoulos and Rizk (2009) are credible in their writing; however, as each article must be able to stand on its own, and the article is lacking in form and perspective, I question the origination, application, and utility of this article, at least as it pertains to my original research question. Privacy in computing has been a major concern in the past two decades (Johnson, 2004). I feel that I could find more pertinent literature by expanding my search beyond this article.


Dimitropoulos, L. & Rizk, S. (2009).A state-based approach to privacy and security for interoperable health information exchange.Health Affairs, 28(2), 428-434. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.28.2.428

Johnson, D. G. (2004). Computer ethics. In L. Floridi (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to the philosophy of computing and information (pp. 65-75). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Using Intelligence in ePCR Database Design

The intelligence of a database design begins with the intelligent approach in which the developer focuses on the particular need the database is to fulfill. It is especially important to constrain, or specialize, a database used in health care, else the database can quickly grow beyond the bounds of efficiency. Efficiency can be found directly from table design, and it can be further achieved with business rules and logic. Designing a database for storing patients’ medical records also has some risk of increasing the likelihood of medical errors and statistical incongruities if done improperly; therefore, a qualified database administrator should be consulted (Campbell, 2004; McGlynn, Damberg, Kerr, & Brook, 1998). However, a preliminary needs assessment can be accomplished by asking a few simple questions: Who? What? Where? Why?

Who needs to use the database? For whom is the data useful? By identifying the scope, or domain, of each database user, the developer can gain a sense of which data points are important (McGlynn et al., 1998; Thede, 2002). For instance, in health care, a purely diagnostic database should efficiently offer comparative differential diagnoses to aid a physician in caring for patients; however, a database of this type will not offer much to the administrative arm of the practice. By understanding the relationship between physician diagnosis and billing, relational techniques can serve to ensure greater accuracy in billing procedures.

What data needs to be stored and retrieved? By listing the specific data to be stored, the developer has an opportunity to optimize the storage methods by creating an efficient and normal relational table foundation (Kent, 1983; Sen, 2009). A patient care reporting database, for instance, must be able to store patient identifying information, or demographics. Depending on the specific needs of the practice, demographic data can usually be stored in a single table. Other relational tables could be used to store references between the patient demographic record and pertinent medical information, thereby minimizing duplication (Thede, 2002).

From where does the data need to be accessed? Does this database require authentication for use on a local area network or a complex security policy for wide area network access (Campbell, 2004; McGlynn et al., 1998)? More importantly, however, is portability of the data. If the data is going to be replicated in a large composite database, the data needs to meet the specifications of the repository. This is often achieved by the publication of a template, or a clear set of directives on how data is to be formatted before transmitting data to the repository. An example of this is the Medicare electronic records requirements set forth in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. By accounting for common templates in the design phase, the developer can avoid having to parse data prior to transmitting the data over the network.

Why are we storing the data? Today, it is very common to store data if merely for purposes of recording an interaction, such as a patient contact. However, it is important to understand how the data will be used in the future. Will the data need to be immediately accessible, such as in emergency or critical care areas, or could the data be compiled and batch processed during times of off-peak network load, such as in billing or logistics. Could paper reporting fulfill the immediate need better? If so, should the data on the paper report be entered in a database later? Regarding transcription, it is important to be knowledgeable about the available technology for creating scanned images, portable electronic documents, and the use of optical character recognition in order to properly prepare for the storage of each.

By answering the who, what, where, and why of the database needs assessment, we ultimately answer the question of how to design and implement the database. As an example, in order to design an ambulance run form, we must take into consideration demographics, the history of present illness (or, the reason for the ambulance request), past and pertinent medical history, including, but not limited to: medications, past medical problems and surgeries, and allergies to medications and environment. It is also important to store the assessment, care, and outcome, as well as the disposition of the incident and the destination facility. Additionally, medical standards, such as diagnostic codes, medications, protocols, and algorithms, could be stored in reference tables for preventing redundancy within the data model (Kent, 1983; McGlynn et al., 1988; Sen, 2009, Thede, 2002). Ambulances are mobile; therefore, network access is an important consideration when designing an electronic ambulance patient care reporting database. For this type of database schema, I would recommend using a small, efficient database locally with a mechanism in place to replicate the data to the larger repository when the network is accessible.

Another challenge in creating a database is learning how not to store information. Information is made of of data, but only data should be stored (Collins, 2009). Programming logic can be used to synthesize data into information and, further, into knowledge. Many database designers mistakenly store information, or even knowledge, quickly inflating the size of the database and decreasing its efficiency and normalcy (Kent, 1983; Sen, 2009).

In conclusion, developing an electronic patient care reporting database for a physician practice has some inherent risk if done poorly; however, a knowledgeable member of the office team can highlight the project requirements by performing the needs analysis.


Campbell, R. J. (2004). Database design: What HIM professionals need to know. Perspectives in Health Information Management, 1(6), 1-15. Retrieved from

Collins, K. (2009). Managing information technology. Exploring Business (pp. 122-130). Retrieved from

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, P.L.104-191. (1996).

Kent, W. (1983). A simple guide to five normal forms in relational database theory. Communications of the ACM, 26(2), 120-125. Retrieved from simple5.htm

McGlynn, E. A., Damberg, C. L., Kerr, E. A., & Brook, R. H. (1998). Health information systems: design issues and analytical applications. Retrieved from

Sen, A. (2009, May 7). Facts and fallacies about first normal form. Retrieved from

Thede, L. Q. (2002). Understanding databases. In S. P. Englebardt & R. Nelson, Health care informatics: an interdisciplinary approach (pp. 55-80). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Information Theory in Health Informatics

Contemporary information theory has its roots in the development of telephony. During the middle of last century, an engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Dr. Claude E. Shannon, innovated information theory by extending the mathematical observations of Boltzmann, Szilard, von Neumann, and Wiener in the area of physics, quantum mechanics, and particle physics (Weaver, 1949). Dr. Shannon, however, applied the theory to communication technology, introducing entropy to the theory (Nelson, 2002; Weaver, 1949).

Weaver, who worked at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, adopted Shannon’s technical message transmission observations and adapted them with his understanding of the semantics of a messages meaning (as cited in Nelson, 2002). Shannon and Weaver’s Information and Communication Model details both the components of a message and the requirements of delivery. An example, as it would relate to health care informatics, would be when a nurse charts a patient’s medical history by encoding it via a desktop client application and the same data is viewable by the same nurse at other computer terminals, other nurses, and the treating physician. The data is also stored along the communication pathway for future retrieval and delivery when the patient presented again. Though this example satisfies Shannon, if the intended recipient were blind, the information shown on a computer screen would be meaningless, according to Weaver, and would indicate a limitation to overcome.

Evaluating hospital information systems developed, in part, from the Shannon and Weaver model, Bruce I. Blum (1986) conducted analysis of object (data, information, and knowledge) processing in both hospital and ambulatory care settings. He concluded that system designs should reflect the artificial delineation between these three types of objects and that these systems will benefit practitioners and patients by improving the overall health care process. Blum (1986) called for the “integration of existing systems with medical knowledge and knowledge-based paradigms” (p. 797) in order to have a positive impact on health care delivery in the coming decades.

Information theory is concerned with the adaptability of a message through a particular channel for optimum transmission. In health informatics, as Blum (1986) points out, information theory can be a benefit by improving “[1)] structure — the capacity of the facilities and the capacity and qualification of the personnel and organization, [2)] process — the changes in the volume, cost and appropriateness of activities, [and 3)] outcome — the change in health care status attributed to the object being evaluated” (p. 794). The major challenges, however, would be initial implementation and acceptance (Blum, 1986).


Blum, B. I. (1986). Clinical information systems. The Western Journal of Medicine, 145(6), 791-797. Retrieved from westjmed00160-0055.pdf

Nelson, R. (2002). Major theories supporting health care informatics. In S. P. Englebardt & R. Nelson (Eds.), Health care informatics: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 3-27). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Weaver, W. (1949, September). Recent contributions to the mathematical theory of communication. Retrieved from weaver/weaver.pdf

Implementing an EMR system

Electronic records streamline the flow of many of the components of patient care. EMRs and ePCRs are very useful in lowering costs, simplifying business processes, and increasing patient safety, as well as overall efficiency, if implemented correctly (Smith, 2003).

Currently, I work as a critical care paramedic providing patient care in acute settings, whether prehospital of interfacility. Within this capacity, I also teach classes to other health care providers, including first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, nurses, physicians, and allied health personnel. I am familiar with the concepts of electronic patient care reporting (ePCR) and the importance and utility of electronic medical records (EMR); however, the only means of electronic reporting available in my capacity as a paramedic is poorly developed ePCR software coupled with intermittent network connectivity, so I still choose to utilize paper reporting. My part-time job with a local municipal ambulance provider relies on a widely available third-party ePCR system that seems to work well. I do utilize this ePCR system when working for this provider.

I have also gained experience with information technology and object-oriented programming concepts while developing platform-independent, client-server distributive applications designed for the internet and intranets. I also have experience with Windows and Unix/Linux platforms.


Smith, P. D. (2003). Implementing an EMR system: One clinic’s experience. Family Practice Management, 10(5), 37-42. Retrieved from

Drawn into Politics

When I reflect on my realization that I had to be more politically and economically fluent, I recall a number of campaigns designed to urge the younger generation of voters to the polls. The most prolific one was Rock The Vote! (RTV!). In the midst of the current debates, I draw a correlation to how the younger voters were urged to the polls and how today’s Tea Party movement is drawing political commentary from the older and younger generations, alike.

RTV!, created at the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London in early 1996, has advocated comprehensive voter registration focusing on the younger demographics (Cloonan & Street, 1998; Hoover & Orr, 2007). The result, in some minds, is a prevalence of uneducated and uninvolved voters; however, according to Hoover and Orr (2007), the Rock the Vote campaign did little to increase the voter turnout within the 18 to 24 year-old demographic. Though I did vote following the RTV! campaign, I cannot say that the campaign had any effect on my likelihood to visit the polls. Instead, RTV! appeared to revive party politics by appealing to popularity-driven politicians in an environment of “the affection and admiration which audiences give to their idols” (Cloonan & Street, 1998, p. 36). RTV! may have reached its goal of 20 million votes from the younger demographic, but it was still only 10% of all voters as every demographic turned out in higher numbers for both the 2000 and 2004 elections (Hoover & Orr, 2007).

Though a bunch of individuals with their own ideologies, the Tea Party formed through a grass-roots movement to promote very simple founding principles of the American experiment: Constitutionally limited goverment, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and free markets (Tea Party Patriots, 2010). Discussing the impetus of the Tea Party, Marcuse (2010) counters that “if the displacement could be countered and redirected towards its actual causes, it might strengthen rather than conflict with progressive resistance” (para. 1). He seems to miss the mark.

In both instances, groups of individuals band together to promote a goal. For RTV! it is to maximize youthful voting. For the Tea Party, it is to underscore the purpose of our government. These are just two fine examples of individuals gathering together to have their voices heard in a way that might not be possible without the others. Whether you wish to change society or maintain its importance, groups are typically heard faster and louder than individuals, but integrity and honesty both demand that you act in accordance with your ideals, first, before rabble-rousing a group into action.


Cloonan, M. & Street, J. (1998). Rock The Vote: Popular culture and politics. Politics, 18(1), 33-38. doi:10.1111/1467-9256.00058.

Hoover, M. & Orr, S. (2007). Youth political engagement: why rock the vote hits the wrong note [Excerpt]. In D. M. Shea & J. C. Green (Eds.), Fountain of youth: strategies and tactics for mobilizing America’s young voters (pp. 141-162). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Retrieved from

Marcuse, P. (2010). The need for critical theory in everyday life: Why the tea parties have popular support [Abstract]. City, 14(4), 355-369. doi:10.1080/13604813.2010.496229

Tea Party Patriots. (2010). Mission Statement. Retrieved from

Free Market

I have purchased many products developed in other countries in the past, including electronics, clothing, and vehicles. To be honest, I have never considered the multi-dimensional ramifications of such purchases. In my view, the purchase of any product that is made available for purchase, whether imported or domestic, contributes to the economy of the United States. In Free to Choose, Milton Friedman (1990) outlines how a free market, driven by personal interest, creates a paradigm where interaction serves only to benefit each party of a transaction. Under Friedman’s concept, the market ultimately causes responsible purchasing, as the consumer drives the market. This differs greatly to the capitalism engaged in the United States, which promotes what is refered to as crony-capitalism. This is certainly an abomination of what the free market is intended to provide. As Friedman purports, “a predominantly voluntary exchange economy … has within it the potential to promote both prosperity and human freedom” (p. 11). Consideration of special interest over general interest will degrade this ideal.

According to Ridgeway (2007), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have destroyed cultures in their attempts to provide for participation in the international markets. Unfortunately, opportunistic people have taken advantage of the situations created. This is what laws are for. Proper legislation and political pressure would allow a government to interact on the world market utilizing methods acceptable to the people. The sovereign government of a people is responsible to and for the people. Governments trade with other governments and their people. It is the choice of both governments, and ultimately the consumers, to do business with each specific entity. I posit that if a certain government abused the governed populace for the sake of increasing world trade, then the responsible governments of the world should, in fact, put pressure on the producing government to alter its model. This would require a moral commitment, however.

Whenever an opportunity for growth presents itself to a community, the community is going to change. Technology will change landscapes as certain needs prevail over lesser needs. It is the responsibility of each culture, whether indigenous or colonial, to preserve their history and culture. Abuses, though, should not be tolerated. I believe that it would be important to not purchase products produced in such manner that would offend one’s sensibilities. For example, the genocide of a people is not excusable solely for the use of the wood on their land. I, for one, would not allow that producer to profit from me.


Friedman, M. & Friedman, R. D. (1990). Free to choose: A personal statement (First Harvest ed.). Retrieved from

Ridgeway, S. (2007, July). Globalization from the subsistence perspective. Peace Review, 19, 297–304. doi:10.1080/10402650701524659

Creationism of the Iroquois League

First, it should be mentioned that the Iroquois, despite popular belief, was not a tribe in itself but a league of five Native American tribes: the Cayuga, Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, and Tuscarora (Converse, 2006). I believe that it is this amalgamation of heritage and culture that lends to such a diverse and rich mythology. The creation story of the Iroquois is not a single story but a selection of variations upon a common theme. This story has been handed down in oral fashion well before colonial times. As such, the variations have grown with the inflections and understanding of each storyteller. Some of the common themes in this story describe a heavenly island in space upon which there is no suffering, no war, and no death, only eternal peace and abundance. This island hovers above an earth covered in water. On the floating island there is a tree, the tree of light or the council tree. This tree was “perpetually laden with fruit and blossoms” (Converse, 2006, p. 32). One day, the ruler, the Great Creative Being, decided to create a new place for the people to grow. In knowing that the world of the cloud sea (earth) existed under the council tree, he commanded the tree uprooted so that the cloud sea might be nurtured to grow. After uprooting the tree, the Great Creative Being sent a woman who was with child down to the cloud sea. As she descended, the animals of the cloud sea created a place for her to rest upon the back of Great Turtle.

At this point, the story breaks into many of the known variations (Converse, 2006; Iroquois Indian Museum, 2010; Williams College, 1997). In some tellings, the woman gives birth to twins, one good and one evil. In at least one account, the woman gives birth to a girl who in turn gives birth to the hero and villain of the story. In all versions, ultimately, the twins are born and the good twin creates beauty and abundance while the bad twin attempts to destroy these things that his brother has created. The brothers eventually take up battle against each other, with the good twin victorious, and life goes on. Each facet of life and nature being a personified allusion of spirit-beings. The story varies so much at this point that to continue in detail would bring this discussion outside of its purview.

The Iroquois creation story, as so many others, tells of a beginning of life on earth, but it fails to tell the story from the initial creation. In this story, there is already a civilization of beings in existence that bears our ancestors. What this story does accomplish, however, is tying a primeval importance to the creatures and land that they rely upon. This story teaches to nourish the land and respect the animals, probably instilling a sense of responsibility because they understand, if not fully, that their existence and quality of life is dependent on the abundance of the land. Parallels can be drawn to some of the interpretations of the Sumerian creation story (Langdon, 1915) and the variations leading to the classical religions’ (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) telling of creation (Al-Baqarah 30, Qu’ran; Al-Hijr 28, Qu’ran; Al-A’raf 54, Qu’ran; Ar-Rahman 14, Qu’ran; Al-Sajdah 4, Qu’ran; Genesis 1-11, King James Bible; Genesis 1-11, Torah).


Converse, H. M. (2006). In A. C. Parker (Ed.), Myths and legends of the New York State Iroquois. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger. Retrieved from

Iroquois Indian Museum. (2010). Creation story I. Retrieved from

Langdon, S. (1915). Sumerian epic of paradise, the flood and the fall of man. The University Museum Publications of the Babylonian Section, 10(1-4). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Museum. Retrieved from

Williams College, Computer Science Department. (1997). Iroquois creation myth. Retrieved from