Every culture and tradition has its version of creation stories. According to my tradition, the Odawa-Ojibwe, the universe was created by Kitchi-Manitou with the express purpose of the ability to vision, to dream all that was possible – of manifesting everything we know and those unseen things and then birth it into being. Each part of Manitou’s creation supported the other and maintained balance: the four leggeds – the animals, those beings that lived in the sea and the winged ones of the air.
Manitou decided to create a special creature like himself, one who could dream. But to do this he had to pass his spiritual essence in a direct way. The male Manitou created was not capable or competent; he was not a whole person.
So it was that Manitou rose upward to Geezhigo-Quae (Sky Woman) – ascended to her because she lived on the moon. Though he was the Great Spirit, and greatest of all spirits, he had to ask a woman for help. He asked if she would join with him in bringing into being an image of himself by having his children and nourishing and nurturing them. She agreed. They joined and then he disappeared so Sky Woman had to go to earth and prepare for the birth herself. Word spread that she had joined with Manitou and that she was carrying his children. The animals were happy, but not everyone was.
The Water Manitous who controlled the water were outraged and jealous because every life form that lived on Mother Earth needed water. They knew Manitou was the most powerful, but if his children descended to the earth then the Water Manitous’ power would be diminished. To retaliate they used their powers in a destructive and negative way to cause a great flood. It destroyed Sky Woman’s camp and she had to return to the moon. She was left to handle the chaos herself and her man was gone. Does this sound familiar?
She saw that not all the animals were under the control of the Water Manitous. There were those who could swim so she enlisted the help of a giant turtle and she sat on his back. Some stories say she fell from the sky and landed on his back. The animals answered her call for help and the loon, the beaver and the little muskrat came to her aid. She told them she did not have all the powers of Manitou, but she said “I am a woman with a special gift; I have the power to re-create” and that she needed their help.
Sky Woman asked for a handful of the original soil Manitou created so she could re-create the Earth. But none of the animals were successful in bringing Sky Woman the handful of dirt and the only one who didn’t try was the muskrat because he couldn’t dive deep. Still he volunteered since no one else could do it. He took some deep breaths and dove into the deep waters. Everyone waited all night for his return. At sunrise and the beginning of a new day they saw him floating on the water. He was dead, but he had the handful of dirt in his hand. To show her thanks and honor the muskrat Sky Woman breathed life into him. This is why we still have muskrats today.
She took the soil from the muskrat’s hand and breathed life into it as well so that it would provide nourishment and shelter. Sky Woman gave a gift of teachings and instructions to the earth beings and while she moved the soil around in circles the turtle began to take shape. Thus the earth was created and it is why Native Americans call North America Turtle Island.
Just as the muskrat there are times in your life when you have to give up the story about what you can and cannot do and grow into more of a capable person; Spirit is simply a possibility; there is jealousy in the world; the female spirit prevails; the proper relationship between male and female; and there is always the dawn of a new day. Manitou eventually returned and gave Sky Woman a new name – Nokomis – the great Mother, creator of the Anishinabeg, the Good Beings, sometimes known as Ojibwe, Chippewa, Ottawa, Pottawaatomi and Mississauga, and eventually the people were known as Canadians.
All tribes have a similar creation story…stories so old they were born before the advent of the Bible.
Guest Author Bio
Wilika Matchweta Asimont
Ms. Asimont, sole proprietor Native American Travel Company, MBA, PhD candidate is a survivor of Canada’s First Nations boarding school legacy and foster care system. In her upcoming publication, Ms. Asimont will share her journey to self respect and empowerment. This quest is for all women – she will teach you principles of exploration, introspection, courage, fortitude, endurance, and honesty for inner peace and a delicious soulful journey in this world.
Visit her website, Going Home. Going Home is a soulful journey to self for abused women; who are survivors but continue to be used.