The Story of Turtle Island

The story of turtle island

In the beginning the Great Mystery created the earth and all living things within and upon and also those above…all lived in harmony… in balance and the mother nurtured her children.

But the two legged began to disagree…and soon to argue and then to fight… forgetting their place within the hoop they began to seek dominion over all others, and in so doing upset the fragile balance and disrupting harmony throughout the earth and all suffered at the hands of them.

The Great Mystery…seeing what the two legged were doing and knowing that all creation would suffer, caused a great flood to cover the earth. The great waters covered the land masses causing all that could not fly or swim to perish except those that found refuge or safety so that not all would perish that lived upon the land. Those that survived clung to trees, and logs that had been swept up and away by the flood. Only the sea could be seen from horizon to horizon…. Birds who sought safety in the skies from the fierce waters now looked desperately for perch…. But there was nothing but water….. An Eagle flying high above the water with his sharp vision spied a large tree that had been uprooted floating in the vast expanse of ocean, he could see several figures upon the tree… and swooped down landing with a great sigh of relief upon the roots that stuck up from the base of the tree….

As the great eagle looked at those who had also taken refuge upon and around the old and weathered tree, he saw there a man , a cormorant, a nutria, a turtle, a hell diver, and a beaver among others… some swam along side or held on.. while others rested upon the tree. A crow called out to the eagle…. We must share our tree with all who are in need… so we will take turns allowing all rest, he said and then fell silent. Another voice spoke up… what are we to do? Are we to die upon this tree… how will we eat. What will happen when the storms come? Others began to speak up also, because they were afraid and could see no end to the waters that swallowed the earth and their homes. All lay at the bottom of the ocean… beyond their reach. How will we survive? They asked…. And began to weep at the thought that they might perish.

Just then the man spoke… We must gather the earth from the bottom of the ocean! He said, We can rebuild the land and return to our place within the hoop, in this way can we survive! All eyes turned to the man… a silence fell as each began to hope… then the eagle spoke up…. And how will we gather this earth from the bottom of the ocean to rebuild our land and our homes?… he asked The man slipped into the dark cold waters… shivering as his skin felt the bite of the icy water…. I will swim to the bottom of the ocean and will grab hold of the earth and return to the surface , with this we can rebuild the land… he said, and then dove beneath the waves into the dark endless night of the ocean…deeper and deeper he dove.. His body tingling from the icy grip that surrounded him…still he dove deeper… into a darkness so black his only hope was to find the earth through outstretched arms… but soon… he began to weaken..his limbs now numb he could no longer propel himself downward… and his lungs now screaming for air he turned upward and swam frantically toward the surface racing against time…he began to feel his consciousness drifting just as his head broke water not far from the tree…the others seeing his struggle leapt into the water and pulled him to safety upon the great tree.

They waited in anticipation as the man caught his breath and began to breathe easier. As he looked around at the hopeful eyes that stared back at him … he bowed his head… I could not reach the bottom… it was too deep… my skin is much too thin and my lungs much too small. I could not return with the earth. They all once again fell silent… then the Cormorant spoke up… I can swim very deep.. And I am used to the cold waters I will dive to the bottom and return with the earth.. He said, and dove silently into the ocean… the cormorant swam and swam… deeper and deeper..further then he had ever gone before… but his body was no match for the deep and he too had to return to the surface after a short time… the others seeing the cormorants return began to decide who would go next… the helldiver spoke saying… I should be the next…I find my food deep beneath the waves… I can swim quickly and hold my breath for a long time… and he too dove into the dark water and disappeared beneath the waves… down he dove… he was a strong swimmer and knew how to use the cool waters to glide… but he too began to weaken before long …but determined he pushed onward..forcing his body and mind to reach further into the darkness….until he knew that he could go no more…. But he had used too much energy…too much oxygen .. And as he lost consciousness he could just barely see the light from the surface …. Staring down into the dark water the eagle spotted a shadow just beneath the surface…. Helldiver! He shouted… he’s is below the waves… he is not conscious!… he yelled.

With that the turtle swam down and returned with helldivers still form on his back. Hurry! man said give him to me and I will give to him my breath so that he will not die. And man breathed into helldiver his breath and helldiver began to choke and spit as his lungs struggled to release the water and replace it with air… soon he began to breathe much easier.. I too was unable to reach the bottom … it must be very deep indeed if I could not reach it he said…and so many others tried to reach the bottom of the ocean and bring back the earth…but none were able to swim deep enough …even the turtle could not reach the bottom …he too did not have enough strength .

Soon those who clung or swam next to or sat upon the tree began to once again fear …for no one could bring back the earth to rebuild the land. Then amongst the din of voices…. A soft voice…almost a whimper was heard.. Quiet! Said the man… there is one who can not be heard! He said…. And when those on and around the tree once again fell silent the man spoke… Who he asked…looking around at those gathered… who speaks softly you want to be heard?! .. As everyone looked around to see who had spoken softly ..eagle spied out of the corner of his eye a small furry brown creature… just barely visible above the waves that slapped against the great tree as it floated the currents of the waters…. There! The eagle said… as the small form climbed upon the great tree.. It was beaver… he had listened and watched from the very start … he had witnessed the valiant efforts of all those upon the tree and had watched with wringing paws as man breathed life back into helldiver . Now it was his turn.

I will try… he said with a meekish voice… my fur is good protection against the cold.. And I quite comfortable in the water… The others looked at one another… not believing that such a small one could do such a great thing… when all others had failed. Man said to beaver …you are brave indeed to try what no other has been able to do. The beaver looked silently at the worried but hopeful eyes of those gathered and with a deep breath dove beneath the surface of the ocean and quickly disappeared….

They waited for quite some time… and then waited some more…. Beaver had been gone much longer then any one else…. Surely he would surface soon… but still no beaver…. It soon became apparent to all that something was very wrong…just then Eagle spied a small shadow as it drifted beneath the waves… There! He shouted… There below the waves… right there he is! Turtle immediately swam under the waves and could barely make out a small form as the current carried further away… turtle swam with all his might into the darkness…hoping beyond hope that he would reach the still form before it disappeared from sight… finally he gained upon the figure and with a swoop beneath it he rose to the surface with the still lifeless form of beaver upon his back.

As turtle approached the great tree those gathered began to weep…man took beaver from turtle and laid him on the great tree… his little body cold and limp… no life was left within. As all came to honor beaver one last time… each approaching and touching his soft fur… offering prayers for his swift passage.. It was man who noticed beavers small paw… it looked as though he were clenching something … man drew in a sharp breath!…… the others looked to see ….. Man slowly, gently with beavers right paw in his left hand softly and lovingly cradled as one would a child…with his right hand tenderly opened the tiny paw… a great Hush! Swept over those gathered… for there in beavers tiny lifeless paw was a small mound of earth. He had done it! He had swam to the depth of darkness and returned with the earth… he had brought them life…even though his sacrifice was great… he did what no other could do…for no other was willing to give up their life for the life of others. Man looked to the others…. Beaver has given us the earth now we must rebuild the land… and we will forever honor beaver and sing songs to his great deed.

Turtle swam to man and said…. Now place the small mound of earth upon my back and I will support the earth and we will call to the great mystery and ask that he rebuild our land, and as man placed the small mound of earth upon the turtles back… those gathered began to sing …to pray to the great mystery . Soon there came great winds…from the four directions…and with them the earth grew…and grew… and the turtle bared the weight of the land…and all who dwelled on and within the land before the flood who survived ..returned to make there homes once again.

Each promising to tell the story to generations to that such as the flood should never happen again., and until this day in honor of their brother … beavers build their homes upon the water in the shape of a mound so that all who see will remember the sacrifice made by beaver and the coming together of all our relations in time of need..



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