The Anicinabe creation story is a long story.
Elders and storytellers talk about the story, by talking about
bits and pieces of the story. It takes a long time to hear the whole story because of the many teachings
within it. This is a simplified story. It is a ceremonial story, the little boy teachings which are told in the
sweat ceremony. This is being shared because it is sacred knowledge that belongs to the people. It is
every community member’s right to hear this story. This is how the storyteller heard it.
In the beginning, before creation, there was nothing. There was darkness: no universe, no planets. In the
dark and emptiness, the Creator made space with the use of His she-she-gun (rattle). The Creator shook
His rattle once very lightly and it barely made a sound because it was so faint. He paused, which was a
great, great length of time. Then He shook it again, and this time it was a little bit louder. Again, He
paused for a great amount of time. Then He shook His rattle again and this time it was a little bit louder.
NA KA CHI-TOOK KE DO DA MANG
Again, an unimaginable amount of time passed before He shook it for the fourth time, which made a
tremendous sound, an unimaginable sound. The sound was like millions and millions of multiplied
rattles, it was so loud. From that time on, Creators’ rattle sparked lightening and issued forth the stars in
the sky; filling the universe with the night sky, the moon, stars and planets. He sent forth the sacred fire,
the sun. This was Creator’s way of setting the stage for existence.
In order for life to exist in space, the Creator made thought, memory and knowledge to set the stage for
existence. This is the Creator’s knowledge, kind loving being, giving, sharing, and a pure honest being. It
is the Creator’s knowledge that gives us a way of existence. Creator’s knowledge is like the unfolding of
a piece of paper. In the unfolding, there is duality of existence. The first opening created the positive
and negative existence of life, which transcends to all fields of education. The paper was unfolded again
and more and more of the Creator’s creations began. This went on for a tremendous amount of time. It
is thought that the Creator’s knowledge is still unfolding to support and make life.
He placed all His sacred rocks (planets) before Him. He looked upon His rocks and noticed Aki (Mother
Earth). He took His tobacco and sent it to Mother Earth to ask her if He could place life upon her.
Mother Earth was still very young and it took her time to accept the tobacco. Once she did, life started
to grow upon her. Therefore, tobacco was the first plant to take root.
It took a long time for the process of growth to become a full green garden upon Mother Earth. All the
other plants descended from the stars and began to grow upon her and finally she was green and full of
life. Then He began to place animal beings upon her, the great ancestors of the animals we know today.
He went on to place penais-she-ok (birds) upon Mother Earth, and water to sustain all the plants,
animals and birds. He finished creating all the animal beings and they prospered. Many nations of birds
now lived upon Mother Earth. Again, this took a long time.
One day, the Creator was sitting, admiring the beauty of Mother Earth and the life that she supports. He
looked at the animals, plants and birds and how harmonious they were. He decided to make somebody
to experience what he was looking at and to take care of His creation, Atum Anicinabe (first man). To set
the stage and prepare the earth for the coming of Anicinabe, He sent down Nanaboozho (great teacher
and messenger), to inform the beings and to ask them if they would help Anicinabe because he would
be pitiful and much smaller than them.
Nanaboozho, the bird and animal beings had a big meeting and sharing circle to find helpers for
Anicinabe to survive, “Who among you will stand up for Anicinabe and help him live life? Who among
you are willing to adjust your size so, Anicinabe can co-exist with you?” All the being presents spoke in
the circle, with a willingness to adjust their enormous size for Anicinabe, they became smaller.
Nanaboozho learned that most of the earth beings were willing to feed, give knowledge and support
Anicinabe. He also learned that some of the beings had nothing to offer, by their enormous size and
nature however, they agreed to leave so, Anicinabe could survive. All this took place close by here,
where petro-forms are found. It took place to set the stage for the creation of Atum Anicinabe.
Our Anicinabe Nation was created when the Creator took Aki (earth/mud) and divided it into four parts
in the palm of His hand. He shaped a person, with a body, legs, arms and a head. In the center of the
being He placed a sacred ceremonial object, a megis (shell) and closed His hand. We were not called
He blew His breath into the palm of His hand. He blew it four times and He said, “A-ni-sha-nabe, I will
lower Anicinabe to Aki, the garden”. The Anicinabe was lowered from the star world, where the Creator
sits. On the way down, Anicinabe had to stop, because there were other creations above Aki. He had to
get to know who the others were. On his way down, he stopped four times before he came upon
Mother Earth. As he was being lowered, he could see a beautiful creation, Mother Earth. He stretched
out his foot to try to reach the ground and finally he was able to touch it. He was set upon a plain of
sweet-grass where Creator had placed him. He was Na-tum Anicinabe, the very first human.
The Creator spoke to Anicinabe, “Go out and experience all the directions. Go out and touch, smell, feel
and look at all of what I have created.” So Atum Anicinabe (first man), was given his first direction, to
experience the world. Atum Anicinabe went great distances to the east, north, west and south
observing, touching, smelling and experiencing the world. Atum Anicinabe was not empty but his
knowledge of the world was very limited. As he travelled, he soaked up life and all the knowledge that
had already been there for years. He travelled and he became more aware and bolder about life. Many
of the beings that were on Mother Earth welcomed him and fed him knowledge and life.
When Atum Anicinabe came back from his travels, he came to mountain ranges that were yellow, blue
white and red in colour. He had finished this great journey. He had returned to where the Creator had
placed him. The Creator asked him, “Do you like what I have created for you?” Atum Anicinabe said,
“Yes, this is a truly beautiful place you have created for me. As I travelled, I noticed all the animals,
plants, trees, and bird nations have partners and make more of their own kind. And, there is nobody like
me, I’m the only one of my kind here.”
The Creator made a partner for Anicinabe, and that partner was not yet male or female but still a
spiritual being. The Creator told them, “Go out and experience.” So, they ventured out and learned
great experiences on a sacred land where there was more of the Creator’s bundle.
As they travelled, they learned that the Creator has an opposite being, a trickster. Trickster talked to the
two while on the sacred land, “When you eat some of these berries and fruits on this sacred land, you
will be like the Creator and you too will create wonderful beings.” Trickster continued to coax them to
take from the sacred land.
The Creator came to see Atum Anicinabek (more than one person) and told them not to take from the
sacred land. Eventually, the trickster talked them into taking the berries and fruits from the sacred land.
One of the sacred beings had a berry in the mouth and the other was holding a piece of fruit. The
Creator came down and scolded the two for taking the berries and fruits. The Creator explained, “I
asked you not to take these berries and fruits and for this, life is going to change for the both of you.” He
said to one who swallowed the berry, “From this moment on, you will have the power to create.” That
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was the birth of woman. It is woman who is given the power to bring life, to create life. The other,
became a scha-be (helper), a man to support life.
From that moment on they became shy of one another. Anicinabek, began to cover themselves, to
conceal their differences, for they were ashamed. They left the sacred land to live and discover one
another upon Mother Earth. They settled and made camp. They had 10 children (five boys and five girls)
and their roles changed. They had become the first parents.
Anicinabek were sustained by the knowledge given to them by spirit, plants, trees, birds and animals;
that knowledge carried them forward, supported them and their children. They brought up their
children to live mino pamatiziwin (a good life). They were innocent and everything was innocent. The
first parents groomed and clothed their children well, because of their shame. Time went by and the
children grew up and became young adults and began to notice each other. The children were no longer
playmates. Their parents observed that their children were looking at each other as possible partners.
Atum Anicinabe (the first parents) became heavy-hearted by what they were noticing. There was
nobody in the world for their children to partner with. They knew it would be wrong if their children
became partners with each other, for this was not happening in the natural world.
The Creator came down again and spoke to the first parents. “I see that something is troubling you, I will
send your children a clan, a family. A bloodline for each of your children’s families. The bloodline will
change and your children will be safe from this moment on.” It was then that the Creator placed the
clans. The first four clans descended were pure white spiritual beings: bear, wolf, crane and turtle. Some
of these beings were in the world and, some came from the stars. The beings made connections with
the first children and had especially gifted and spiritual children, because they inherited a part of their
spiritual parents. Examples of gifts and spirituality are noticeable in the crane’s incredible vision and
ability to see far, not physical far but spiritually far. The wolf clan carries the gifts of humility and
incredible honour within the family clan. The clan family’s gifts go on and on.
Upon the descent of the clans, life for Anicinabe became tremendously spiritual and the people were
gifted. Life was good and flourishing. The people were still spiritual beings, meaning they could
communicate with the animal, bird, and plant beings. They grew into humans, nations and our clans.
The clan law did more for the families - it formed our governments. The Creator called it a clan law.
From the first Anicinabe, he said, “The passage of clan will follow the father. No clan can partner with
the same clan because it makes us sisters and brothers. The clan will keep you safe as long as you stay
within the law.” The clan system is a natural law and prevails for our people. “Always know your clan
before you partner with someone. Do not partner within your clan family: your sister or your brother.
You must know your clan teachings, your colours, how to honour, feast and make offerings to your clan;
for you are feasting your ancestors, the first parents and the spirituality they gave to you.”
For Anicinabe-speaking Nations across Turtle Island, the Creator lowered 10 original clans for families to
live. In our area, including Sagkeeng, Anicinabek were given 7 clans for life. The Creator stopped after he
lowered 44 clans for the world. He looked upon the people and knew they would be safe from the
original problem of interbreeding. He had stopped that from happening. The Creator’s law is not just for
the past. It is still talked about today. It is valid and current.