The Anishinabek Creation Story
There is more than one creation story for Indigenous Peoples around North America, including more than one story for each nation. Not to say any of one the stories is the ‘right’ one, they are versions adapted by the people in different parts of the land. The Creation story we have chosen to adapt, comes from Darlene Johnston, an Anishinabekwe, who is a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto, in a report she prepared for the Ipperwash Commission of Inquiry; “Connecting People to Place: Great Lakes Aboriginal History in Cultural Context”.
Other creation stories are similar to the one recounted by Dr. Johnston. Most elements are similar to a version by Anishinabek scholar and author Basil Johnston, of Cape Croker. For example, a flood and a grain of sand are a common thread, along with Muskrat being the successful diver of that grain of sand. The difference in Basil Johnston’s story, is in the beginning, a pregnant Sky Woman lands on Giant Turtle’s back, and rubs the rim of Turtle’s back with the grain of sand from Muskrat, creating ‘Turtle Island’ or what is now, North America, where she gives birth to twins - the Anishnaubaek.
A Starting Point for Our Creation Story – French River and Henvey Inlet First Nations
The birds, animals and fish were created before human beings. Human beings were created after the big flood. While the earth was flooded, the land animals floated upon a large wooden raft. The leader, the Great Hare “Michabous”, knew there was land somewhere under the water, and the animals needed it if they were to survive. Michabous asks many animals to dive into the water to bring up only a little soil. He promises that if he can get but a small grain, he will be able to make enough land to support all the animals.
First, Beaver is asked to dive for the sand, after a long time, he comes up empty-handed. Next is, Otter is called upon. Otter is also unsuccessful. Finally, Muskrat volunteers to dive down for sand. Since Beaver and Otter are strong and failed, the other animals don’t have much faith in Muskrat.
Muskrat dives, and stays under water for a whole day, and finally shows up at the edge of the raft, nearly drowned. The animals pull him onto the raft, and open all his tightly closed paws. In the last paw they find a grain of sand.
Good to his promise, Michabous, took the grain of sand, and let it fall on the raft, where it grew in size.
Once it began to grow, the Great Hare took more grains from there, and scattered them about, which caused the mass of soil to grow larger and larger. It grew to the size of a mountain, and Michabous walked around it to enlarge it still. When he thought it large enough, he sent Wagosh (Fox) to inspect the work, with power to enlarge it more, Wagosh obeyed, and found the place was large enough for him to hunt his own prey, and told Michabous the place was large enough for all the animals. Upon hearing this, the Great Hare toured his own creation and found it incomplete, and since then he hasn’t been able to trust any of the other animals, and to this day he continues to increase what he’s made and is on constant move around the earth.
After Michabous’ creation of the earth, the other animals found places most favoured by them for pasture or hunting prey. When the first ones died, Michabous caused the birth of men from their carcasses. Appropriately, those early men, derived their origins from a bear, others from a moose and still others from various animals.
Our Clans and historical connections to the land and each other is revealed in the study of the Clan system, and the threads it weaves through our Band and families to this day .