September 13

The Return of Fire

The return of Fire

Once, the people had lost fire. They sat in the cold and huddled together for warmth at night and many perished. The animals of the woods witnessed this and took pity on the people, so they held a council. “I know of this “fire” you speak of” said the bear. “It is on an island out in the lake. On the island is an old cedar, and the fire is within. Who will go and fetch it for these two leggeds?” The turkey buzzard was first to volunteer. He flew to the island and tried to fly down from the top of the cedar to retrieve the fire, but the heat within was too much, and it burnt off all the feathers on his face and neck. It is still like this today. Next was the Loon. He tried to enter from a hole in the side, but the smoke overwhelmed, burning his eyes. He still carries his red eyes today. The white snake volunteered. She slithered across the water to the island and entered the tree. She came close, but the fire scorched her all over, and she’s been a black snake ever since. Finally the little water spider meekly raised her little hand. “I am small, but I will try this.” She slid across the water and came to the tree. Before she attempted to take fire, she wove a small bowl on her back from webbing. She crawled in the tree and took a tiny ember and placed it in the bowl. She then hurried across the water and brought this barely living ember to the bear. With loving care, the Bear blew and gently nurtured the ember into a blazing fire. This was presented to the people, and they felt warmth for the first time in many days. The people were grateful and held a gathering for the animals. They gave honor to the tiny water spider, and she carries the little bowl on her back to this day as well.

Contributed By:

Brian Joseph Liekam - Makwa Agueniishinook (Bear Shadow) -Anishnabe Elder


Anishnabe, Elders, Fire, Ojibwe, Teachings, Traditional Stories

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