The Story of Creation
By Adrian Levesque
Long ago, there lived a mighty warrior. He was considered mighty because of his strength, and his ability to shape the earth, but not because he was a good person. No, in fact, the warrior wasn’t at all altruistic, as the creator had hope that he would be. The warrior was placed in charge of the races of animals and men. And the warrior was responsible for ensuring that the animals and the humans got along. But night after night, and day after day, the warrior would play pranks on the animals and the humans. And when either group would get upset, the warrior would blame the other group, and caused great animosity between the races of animals and men.
One day, the animosity grew so great, that the animals and the humans started to attack one another. Not long after, the ground was covered in blood as far as the eye could see. And the creator, furious, said to the warrior, “look at what you have done! I asked you to lead the animals and the humans. And all you did was pit them against each other and cause great bloodshed. Now I must bring the rains to wash away all this bloodshed.” And with that, the sky began to darken, and rain began to fall. And for days and days it rained. The rivers swelled, the oceans covered the land, and soon there was no ground for the warrior to walk on. The warrior floated on his back for days. Not sure if he would ever see the ground beneath his feet ever again.
After some time, an otter swam up to the warrior, still floating on his back, and the warrior said, “Otter, my companion, I fear that I can not float forever. If only there was a piece of land that I could use to create an island. Dive down and collect a patch of earth for me. And I will make us an island where we can rest.”
The otter dove down, down, down. And after being under the water for a long time, the otter returned. Paws empty. The warrior said, “Was the water so deep that even the clever otter can’t even dive down to the bottom? Come, try again. And if you succeed, I promise that I will make you a wife. And you can spend the rest of your days with a loving family.”
So again, otter dove down, deep, deep, deep below the surface of the water. And after a long time, otter finally returned, exhausted. Paws empty, again. And for a time, the warrior and the otter floated together in silence. After a while, a beaver swam up. And the warrior said, “Resourceful beaver, I fear that I will not be able to float on my back like this for much longer. Please, do me the favor. Dive down deep below the surface, and retrieve for me a piece of earth, that I might fashion us an island to rest on.”
And with that, the beaver dove down deep, deep, deep below the surface of the water. And after a long while, the beaver returned. But it did not have the earth that the warrior had asked for. And the warrior said, “Was the water so deep that the resourceful beaver couldn’t even reach the bottom? Come, try again. And if you succeed, I will fashion for you a wife. And you can spend the rest of your days in a beautiful damn with a loving family.” And with that, the beaver dove down deep, deep, deep below the surface of the water. And after a long, long while, the beaver returned, exhausted. Paws empty, again.
Exhausted, the warrior, the otter, and the beaver floated together. The warrior began to give up hope that he would ever find rest from the deluge he was treading. After a while, a muskrat swam up and the warrior said to the muskrat, “Muskrat, clever and nimble, I fear that I will not be able to float on my back for very much longer. Please, muskrat, dive down deep and retrieve for me a piece of earth that I might be able to fashion an island for us to rest on.” And so, the muskrat swam down deep, deep, deep below the surface of the water. And after a long time, the muskrat returned. Paws empty.”
“I am sorry,” said the muskrat, “But I dove straight down, not like the otter and beaver, and I still wasn’t able to reach the ground beneath the water. Let me try again, and this time, I will retrieve for you what you asked for.”
To which the warrior replied, “If you succeed, I will fashion for you a wife, and you will spend the rest of your days surrounded by many, many descendants.” And with that, the muskrat dove down deep, deep, deep beneath the surface of the water. And for the longest time, there was no sign of the muskrat. The warrior was beginning to fear the worst had happened.
Finally, bubbles started to appear on the surface of the water, and the muskrat began to appear close to the water’s surface. The muskrat was completely exhausted and had certainly almost drowned. The warrior picked the muskrat out of the water and held the animal against his chest. And there, in the muskrats’ tiny fingers, was a small brown clump of dirt. And with that, the great warrior began to fashion a great island. And it is said that it is he that created the continents that we live on. And therefore, the world.
(This is one version of an Algonquin story that, depending on what Indigenous Nation you are from, may have some slight variations. The pronunciation of the warrior’s name changes from nation to nation. So, I made the decision to call him a great warrior.)
Adrian Levesque (He/They)
Indigenous Outreach Coordinator