How it all began
An Ojibwe Creation Story, as interpreted by Aboriginal Outfitters
Creation stories offer a glimpse into the world view of people. Of how they understand themselves, their place in the world, and the ideals to which they aspire.
In the beginning, the earth was young and only had water. Above the earth, somewhere in space, there was a more ancient world, known as the Skyworld. In that world, there was a curious, pregnant woman. She was craving a red fern root that grew under the oldest trees. To find the roots she was craving, she started digging under the tree of light. Beaver told her to stop digging but she refused. She kept digging until she dug so far that she created an opening to the young, water world. She poked her head through the hole out of curiosity but looked too far and fell through.
She was falling from the Skyworld towards the earth. All of the water animals of earth saw her falling and the geese caught her with their wings and nurtured her. Turtle offered their back for the woman to rest on because it was the only flat surface they could think of.
After months of being on the turtle’s back, the animals noticed that Skywoman was going to have her baby so they had a meeting. In this meeting, Skywoman explains to them how she needs land but they didn’t know what this was. She explains how they would need to dive to the bottom of the ocean to get a handful of mud. After almost all of the animals attempted this, none of them succeeded.
The last to try was the weakest diver of them all, the uninterested Otter. Before she agrees to dive down, she asks the Skywoman why needs mud. Skywoman answers, “because of the magic”. Otter says “the magic better be worth it” and she dives down into the water. She is gone for four days before finally floating to the top. The animals believe she is dead so they hoist her up onto the back of the turtle and unclench her hands. While unclenching her hands, they discover she is only tired and out of breath but still alive, and in her hands is the mud.
Skywoman takes the mud from Otter and puts it on Turtle’s back. She starts singing and dancing in thanks. The mud turns into huge lumps of mud as far as they could see in every direction. The animals mentioned how it was a good trick, but they weren’t satisfied because there wasn’t enough room for all of them in the water. Some of them were going to have to live on the land.
Skywoman then has her twins, two girls. One light and one dark, one left-handed and one right-handed.
The Right-Handed twin smoothed all the mud lumps until the land was flat. The Left-Handed twin stomped around the mud, creating deep valleys and tall mountains. The Right-Handed twin dug nice, straight trenches and filled them with water. The Left-Handed twin made the rivers crooked with rocks and only made them flow in one direction. The Right-Handed twin created forests where trees lined up so you know where you are in the forest. The Left-Handed twin came along and moved the trees around so that the forests were dense and hard to navigate but other parts were open and easy.
The animals suggested food like nuts and fruit so the Right-Handed twin gave it to them. The Right-Handed twin also created roses and the Left-handed twin put thorns on the stems. The Left-Handed twin created winter and the Right-Handed twin created summer. The animals asked about human beings and the twins replied “why not,” so the Right-Handed twin created women, and the Left-Handed twin created men. The animals replied, “they don’t look too bright… we hope they won’t be a problem…” then the twins said, “Don’t worry, you guys will get along just fine.”
Everyone gathered and admired the world they had created. The Left-Handed twin said…. “This is as good as it gets… this is one beautiful world.”