The Ojibwe Creation Story: Turtle Island

Creation Story - Urban Hermits

Hi all,

I was recently introduced to the Ojibwe creation story and was fascinated by its contrasts, as well as similarities to the christian creation story. Thus, I thought I would share a little bit about it. The tale is often referred to as “Turtle Island” and consists of a flood that destroys a previous land. The animals, along with a human, are aware of a need for a new land to survive and thus come together to create a new world, thanks to various creatures and a turtle, in particular, who bears the weight of this new land. Here is a quote:

Nanaboozhoo took the piece of Earth from Muskrat’s paw. Just then, the turtle swam forward and said, “Use my back to bear the weight of this piece of Earth. With the help of Kitchi-Manitou, we can make a new Earth.” Nanaboozhoo put the piece of Earth on the turtle’s back. Suddenly, the wind blew from each of the Four Directions, The tiny piece of Earth on the turtle’s back began to grow. It grew and grew and grew until it formed a mi-ni-si’, or island in the water. The island grew larger and larger, but still the turtle bore the weight of the Earth on his back. Nanaboozhoo and the animals all sang and danced in a widening circle on the growing island. After a while, the Four Winds ceased to blow and the waters became still. A huge island sat in the middle of the water, and today that island is known as North America” (The Grand Council Treaty #3)

I found the theme of creatures coming together very interesting and contrasting to the theme of a god creating a world to be dominated by humans. The altruism of the turtle is also inspiring. It makes me contemplate how fundamental beliefs such as these can affect how we perceive our surroundings and our role as stewards to the earth and its inhabitants. I encourage you to take a look at the complete story, by clicking this link. It is brief but interesting.

To go along with this story, our own Lauren has created an illustration of the turtle. Thanks to the Grand Central Treaty #3 website, the government for the Anishinaabe Nation #3 of Canada for hosting the story.

Illustration: Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits, September 2013

One thought on “The Ojibwe Creation Story: Turtle Island

  1. Pingback: Viewing the Michigan Petroglyphs | Artwork and Musings by Angie Kidd

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