Cree and Ojibway Legends - Our Aboriginal HistorySat, February 16, 2008 - 4:21 PM
We Live Our Stories
We are our stories. Our stories of the land, of the environment, of our past times, of now, define our place and who we are. Our beliefs are born from living on the land for a long time. The sacred teachings come from our connection with the land, with the Great Spirit and with our forefathers.
We want to share our stories with you, our beliefs, our way of life. We live by stories, we also live in them. One way or another we are living our stories planted in us early or along the way. We are also living the stories we planted in ourselves. We live stories that give our lives meaning. If we change the stories we live by, we change our lives.
Connections with the Land
Our beliefs are born from living on the land for a long time. The sacred teachings come from our connection with the land, with the Great Spirit and with our forefathers.
The Great Spirit is in all things; he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground, she returns to us
Legends will always play a big role in the way we see ourselves as part of the world around us. Our stories are rooted in the history of our people. It is these legends that taught our children thew valuable lessons of surviving a harsh and often unforgiving land. We want to share our traditional stories with you so that you may hear some of our ancient history.
Cree and Ojibway Legends Part of Our Ancient Aboriginal History
For centuries, Aboriginal people sat around campfires at night, the elders passing on the ancient legends and songs. The children were taught the many happy songs of good hunting and fun times. They were also taught songs of struggle and songs of nature's powers destroying the unprepared. Some of our ancient stories are rooted from stories of other tribes too. Long ago our ancestors picked up other wisdom and adjusted the lessons to fit our culture uniquely. The Legends covered a wide variety of themes, from animals, to plants, monsters in the woods and even from things in the skies.
Story Telling and Songs Since Ancient Times
The ancient Cree and Ojibway people had what is known as a verbal culture. This means that they relied heavily on telling stories to pass information on from one generation to the next. The elders within the tribe shared the legends. It was their responsibility to keep the Aboriginal traditions alive for to not learn from its lessons often meant surviving in a harsh and unforgiving climate. It was for the children and the generations of the future that our legends have survived over the thousands of years of our existence in the James Bay Frontier.
" The legends and songs of our Native Culture was like the first literature in Canada. The first people to walk on our land told constant stories about their adventures, the ancient stories of their ancestors. The songs and stories were about every aspect of living with our land, and the characters of our land, such as the moose, beaver, rabbit, eagle and the wolf. Our wonderful beings that roam our lands with us even until today. Through stories and songs, that is how we keep our history alive and pass it on through the next generations to come. Our stories did a lot for our people. They teach, learn, and even discipline our children. A strong native story might make a child learn the consequences of ones actions or make the child feel a shame for what they have done. Within our culture, aboriginal people knew they could reflect theses stories to people and children of different cultures and of different times. " by Kieffer Bunting
The Cree call it Nabagaboo the Ojibway know it as Sasquatch
" One of our community street names is called Nabagaboo, which means Bigfoot in Cree. Bigfoot is a common legend among many diiferent ancient tribes of First Nations peoples. Each had variations to the story to reflect the own living realities. The Ojibway called them Sasquatch. Some believe that Bigfoot still roam the forests today. They say it looks like people and runs around in the woods screaming and breaking down trees. It never bothers the Native tribe though. People who have seen it looked long, tall, hairy and smelled bad. They say that he makes shelter from broken down trees to sleep at night. There have been many sightings of big foot prints in the black mud on lakeshores." by Kieffer Bunting
Nanabush called together all the birds and animals he could find to give them their duties. He told the beaver to build dams; bees to make honey; woodpeckers to play forest music; and so it went until all the animals had been given their duties - all except the Turtle.
When Nanabush called all the animals together, Turtle was swimming far below the lake surface. Finally, when Turtle heard what his duties would be, he sank below the surface in a sulk. As the days passed, Turtle grew angrier. One day, upon seeing a passing canoe, he shot to the surface, upset the canoe and ate the surprised Ojibway. The Ojibway was very tasty and Turtle continued attacking canoes for many days.
Nanabush, upon hearing of the strange events, suspected Turtle was angry with him, and decided to stop the strange behaviour by making Turtle do something useful. Nanabush took his bow and arrow, and seeing Turtle, fired at him. Turtle dove into the water and was narrowly missed. When diving Turtle flung his tail up in the air shooting a great spray of water high into the sky. Nanabush, using this magic, turned the spray of water into thousands of little stars, thereby creating the Milky Way.
Legends have always been used by our people to teach about the ways of the land, to teach survival lessons, to share a bit of humor on dark quiet nights, but most importantly to pass on the customs, beliefs, and traditions of our people to our children.
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