Creation of the World

- Ojibwa -


Wenebojo, having outwitted the evil manidog by trickery, at last found himself stranded in the pine tree. He crept higher, begging the tree to stretch as tall as it could. Finally the waters stopped just below Wenebojo's nose. He saw lots of animals swimming around and asked them all, in turn, to dive down and bring up a little earth, so that he and they might live. The loon tried, then the otter and the beaver, but all of them were drowned before they could bring back any earth. Finally, the muskrat went down, but he too passed out as he came to the surface.

"Poor little fellow, " said Wenebojo, "You tried hard." But he saw the muskrat clutching something in his paw: a few grains of sand and a bit of mud. Wenebojo breathed on the muskrat and restored his life, then he took the mud and rolled it in his hands. Soon he had enough for a small island and he called the other animals to climb out of the water. He sent a huge bird to fly around the island and enlarge it. The bird was gone four days [four is a magic number], but Wenebojo said that was not enough and he sent out the eagle to make the land larger. Having created the world, Wenebojo said "Here is where my aunts and uncles and all my relatives can make their home."

Then Wenebojo cut up the body of one of the evil manidog and fed part of it to the woodchuck, who had once saved his life. Into a hollow he put the rest of the food and when some of it turned into oil or fat, and Wenebojo told the animals to help themselves. The woodchuck was told to work only in the summertime; in the winter he could rest in a snug den and sleep, and each spring he would have a new coat. Before that, most of the animals had lived on grass and other plants, but now they could eat meat if they wished. The rabbit came and took a little stick with which he touched himself high on the back. The deer and other animals that eat grass all touched themselves on their flanks. Wenebojo told the deer he could eat moss. The bear drank some of the fat, as did the smaller animals who eat meat. All those who sipped the fat were turned into manidog and are the guardian spirits of every Indian who fasts. Wenebojo then named the plants, herbs, and roots and instructed the Indians in the use of these plants. Wenebojo's grandmother, Nokomis, also has a lodge somewhere in that land.

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