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Topic – Turtle Island

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Turtle Island

Today, most Indigenous people call North America Turtle Island. Here is one of the stories behind the name. It involves the Creator and a few very brave animals.

First Came the Floods

Long, long ago, people began arguing with each other. They disagreed about everything. Then they began battling each other. The people fought so much that they made the Creator unhappy. So he decided to cause a huge flood to cover the Earth with water and purify it. Soon, all the people were gone and only a few animals were left.

But the animals could find no land where they could live. What could they do? After much discussion, they decided to try to grab a pawful of earth from far, far below the water. The animals planned to use the earth to make new land where they could raise their families.

Many animals took turns diving down through the waters. Each held its breath and plunged deep, deep, deep down, trying to reach the bottom. But none of the animals could dive that far down.

loon

They all knew the loon was a good diver and thought for sure he could reach the bottom. He dove as far down as he could. The animals at the surface peered into the water as they waited for the loon to come back. But when he finally returned to the surface he had no earth with him. Now what would the animals do?

muskrat

The Muskrat Tries

The muskrat offered to try to dive and find some earth. The other animals all laughed at him. They knew he wasn’t used to diving. But the muskrat wanted to try anyway. He took a deep, deep, deep breath and dove down through the water. 

The other animals watched for the muskrat to return. They waited and they waited. But there was no sign of the muskrat. What had happened to him?

The animals were just about to give up when finally the muskrat broke the surface of the water. He was panting and gasping and so out of breath that he couldn’t talk. But he held out his paw and there, clutched in his paw, was a little ball of earth. Even though all the animals had laughed at him, the muskrat was the only one that had been able to dive deep enough.

sea turtle

Turtle Island Is Born

The turtle offered his strong back to hold up the piece of earth. Soon the wind blew and blew on it. The breezes helped the earth grow until it formed an island. It became heavier and heavier, but still, the turtle carried the island’s weight on his back.

The wind continued to blow. Finally, there was a huge island in the midst of all the waters. Now the animals had a home.

Many Indigenous peoples, including the Ojibway, call the whole world Turtle Island. Since Mother Earth provides everyone with food, air, water, and shelter, it’s important that people take good care of our planet and home.


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