The Anishinaabe Creation Story
In the beginning there was a Great Black Void and in that void there was a spirit, The Great Mystery, who sent his thoughts out into the Universe, when no response happened, those thoughts were called back and The Great Mystery said “Create light in The Universe as you come back to me”. All the stars were born and from them the planets were formed. It is at that moment we had light and dark in the Universe. The Anishinaabe people believe that we are all made of light and dark, the physical and the spirit.
Miigwetch to Edward Benton-Banai
The Mural I created for CentreCourt Condos located at Jarvis and Dundas is entitled “The Original Family”. It is a depiction of one of our oldest stories, The Anishinaabe Creation Story which was brought down through oral traditions and pictographic images drawn on birch-bark scrolls. This mural is in my own Contemporary Style of Woodland Painting and begins with The First man and The First Woman and their sacred union and the beginning of The Creation Story.
It is said that The First Man (Waynaboozhoo) came down from the sky and was lowered and the first thing he did was to travel across the land and began naming everything, all the plants, all the trees, all the animals, all the insects, all the fish, and all the birds, etc. The Anishinaabe Elders say this is where our naming ceremony came from and this is also where our Anishinaabe language comes from. This is why all the animals have gathered around The First Man and The First Woman as a reminder of how our story is closely connected to all life on Earth.
The next thing First Man is asked to do by The Creator is to travel to the Fire Keeper in the East and learn about The Sacred Fire and all it’s connections to the heart and to the Universe and in doing so he meets the Fire Keepers Daughter who we now know as The Morning Star. It is their sacred union that is the beginning of humanity here on Turtle Island.
In the West is the First Thunderbird who is The Co-Creator and protector of the people and helping them to remember that we all have gifts and that we should always be humble and know that those gifts came from our ancestors. The fish reminds us of our close connection to the Underworld/Spirit World for the fish is the guardian or gate keeper, the otter is the helper who brought the teachings of the four directions and knowledge of what we know today as the Medicine Wheel Teachings. The moose represents the hoofed beings and the teacher of the forest and the teacher of the children. The birds are reminders of spiritual connections to our hearts (our Sacred Fire) and to the Universe. The rabbit is here to remember the trickster and that not everything can always go as planned. Last is the bear, a reminder that we are in changing times of which our prophets predicted as The Seven Fires Prophecy.
The Prophets also gave us teachings about The Eighth Fire, a time we are now in. It is said that in this time our stories and ancient wisdom will come to the surface and be shared with the western peoples and a new beginning will happen called The Eighth Fire. A new people will emerge and it will become the beginning of The Golden Age.
Philip H. Cote, MFA
Young Spiritual Elder