Anishnabe found himself alone on earth. The Creator told him to give everything a name, and he did this, accompanied by a wolf. He discovered that only he, among the many species, was alone, without a mate, and he was lonely. He traveled to the Great Lakes and while searching, heard a beautiful song coming across the water. The woman’s voice was singing that she was making a home for him. He fell in love with the voice and the song. In the days that followed, he learned how to cross the water and finally came to a lodge facing west. There lived a beautiful woman and her father, the Firekeeper.
This was the first union – Anishabe and the Firekeeper’s Daughter. It determined the roles of men and women in marriage. They had four sons, who when they were grown traveled to the four directions of the earth. The son who traveled north had a hard journey, but learned that the melting snow cleansed Mother Earth. Because of the snow, the color for North is white. This son married the daughter of the Spirit of the North and was given sweetgrass, the first gift of Mother Earth. It is kept in a braid like a mother’s hair.
The second son traveled east, into the yellow of the rising sun. He learned that fire is the essence of life and gained in knowledge of the Creator. He married the daughter of the Spirit of the East, and was given tobacco to use in prayer, to communicate with the Creator.
The third son went south, which is the woman’s direction from which comes seeds and other things that give life. Red, the color of life’s blood, is the the color for south. He married the Spirit of the South’s daughter and was given the gift of cedar, which is used to cleanse and purify the home and prepare for food.
The fourth son went West, toward the mountains. Marrying the Spirit of the West’s daughter, he was given sage and learned that the setting sun represents the circle of life and its cycle. The color for West is black, for the dark time, and the sage, a strong purifier, is to keep illness away.
Smoke from the cedar and sage is fanned upward with an eagle feather because the eagle once saved the Indian people when the Creator would have destroyed them. The eagle told the Creator there were faithful people on earth, and was sent out each morning to see if the smoke still rose from the lodges of those good people. Fanning the smoke with the eagle feather symbolizes the eagle delivering the message to the Creator that his people are still there and still believe.
The Seminole recount that when the Creator, the Grandfather of all things, created the earth, he made all animals and birds and put them in a large shell. When the earth was ready, he set the shell along the backbone (mountains) of the earth. “When the timing is right,” he told the animals, “the shell will open and you will all crawl out. Someone or something will crack the shell and you must all take your respective places on the face the earth.” The Creator then sealed up the shell and left, hoping the Panther (his favorite animal) would be first to emerge.
Time passed, and nothing happened. Alongside the shell stood a great tree. As time passed, the tree grew so large that its roots started encircling the shell. Eventually a root cracked the shell. The Wind started enlarged the crack and reached down to help the Panther take its place on earth. Next to crawl out was the Bird. The Bird had picked and picked around the hole, and, when the time was right, stepped outside the shell. Bird took flight immediately. After that, other animals emerged in different sequences: Bear, Deer, Snake, Frog, Otter. There were thousands of others, so many that no one besides the Creator could even begin to count them all. All went out to seek their proper places on earth.
Near the beginning of time, five Seminole Indian men wanted to visit the sky to see the Great Spirit. They traveled to the East, walking for about a month. Finally, they arrived at land’s end. They tossed their baggage over the end and they, too, disappeared beyond earth’s edge.
Down, down, down the Indians dropped for a while, before starting upward again toward the sky. For a long time they traveled westward. At last, they came to a lodge where lived an old, old woman.
“Tell me, for whom are you looking?” she asked feebly.
“We are on our way to see the Great Spirit above,” they replied.
“It is not possible to see him now,” she said. “You must stay here for a while first.”
That night the five Seminole Indian men strolled a little distance from the old woman’s lodge, where they encountered a group of angels robed in white and wearing wings. They were playing a ball game the men recognized as one played by the Seminoles. Two of the men decided they would like to remain and become angels. The other three preferred to return to earth. Then to their surprise, the Great Spirit appeared and said, “So be it!”
A large cooking pot was placed on the fire. When the water was boiling, the two Seminoles who wished to stay were cooked! When only their bones were left, the Great Spirit removed them from the pot, and put their bones back together again. He then draped them with a white cloth and touched them with his magic wand. The Great Spirit brought the two Seminole men back to life! They wore beautiful white wings and were called men-angels.
“What do you three men wish to do?” asked the Great Spirit.
“If we may, we prefer to return to our Seminole camp on earth,” replied the three Seminoles.
“Gather your baggage together and go to sleep at once,” directed the Great Spirit.
Later, when the three Seminole men opened their eyes, they found themselves safe at home again in their own Indian camp.
“We are happy to return and stay earthbound. We hope never to venture skyward again in search of other mysteries,” they reported to the Chief of the Seminoles.