On Sun, 19 Aug 2001, Jesse Bangs wrote:

> I don't need to take the Biblical story literally, but I wonder if there
> are any better explanations for the origin of the Babel myth.  Doesn't an
> equivalent myth occur in many Native American cultures, too?


In the Choctaw version, the people wanted to know what the sky
and clouds were. They began building a mound out of rocks so they could
get up there and find out. That night while they slept, a great wind came
and blew the mound down. So the next day they started again. That night,
the winds against scattered the rocks. The third morning, they started
again. That night, the winds hurled the rocks down onto the sleeping
people. When they awoke, they found that they spoke various langauges, and
could not speak to each other. The people who continued to speak the
original language are the Choctaw. The people who could not understand
Choctaw started fighting each other. They separated to the north, east,
and west, and started their own tribes.

The overall story is quite similar to the Babel story, but there are some
significant differences. First of all, the people were not trying to reach
Heaven (captial H), but were curious about the heavens (small h).
Presumablly the winds came from some deity, but we never get told why.

The version this is a synopsis of was recorded in 1909. By that time, the
Choctaw had been Christian for a few generations. Undoubtablly, the Babel
story influenced this myth, but I do not know how much.