An Aboriginal Presence
Wealth of Stories
Stories describe Nanabozho's transformations of the Anishnaabe world. They tell how Raven stole the light from a house near the Pacific Coast and spilled it over the earth. They recount Kiviuk's journeys along the Arctic shore, and Jipijkam's sudden appearances on the East Coast.
Through the centuries, these stories have preserved the teachings of how each society defined the nature of the world. Stories described the characters of animals and human beings, and showed the relationship between them that has sustained human life.
"Our stories were us, what we knew, where we came from and where we were going. They were told to remind us of our responsibility, to instruct, and to entertain. There were stories of the Creation, our travels, our laws. There were legends of hard fought battles, funny anecdotes - some from the smokehouse, some from the trickster - and there were scary stories to remind us of danger, spiritual and otherwise. Stories were our life and they still are."
Larry Hill, Seneca
"As you grow up, you learn different things from the legends at different stages. It stays with you all the rest of your life. You learn something out of each story each time it is retold because if you are growing as a person, you are ready for new truth each time. You learn something new from a legend each time, just as you learn something new from a painting each time."
Leland Bell, quoted in Mary E. Southcott, Anishnaabe of Manitoulin Island
"I go to visit the old people, the elders. We talk about the weather, we joke a bit, we pass along the news, and then they tell how things used to be a long time ago. They tell us a legend. It's one long rambling conversation. But the things that come up over and over again in the conversation are important and you know it's important. They do not tell you that you must do this or that. They tell you a story. You go home and think about it and you know they have been telling you a truth."
Blake Debassige, Anishnaabe, quoted in Mary E. Southcott, Anishnaabe of Manitoulin Island