"Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and of one father. And I saw that it was holy."
As a child I remember holding Turtles and the reverence with which people would speak of Turtle. Later I discovered that many tribal peoples in the United States carried oral traditions that included Turtle as the Creator of North America and especially what is now called the United States or Turtle Island. Turtle is considered not only the Creator but also the animal that symbolizes our brokenness as One People and our call to bring together all the pieces again. To bring together those who scattered in different directions and become the mosaic that is Turtles shell.
We know that long ago before there were humans, water covered the planet, covered the mud that lay deep below the surface. This is how it was in the Beginning when people lived beyond the Sky. One day a pregnant woman fell from the Sky World towards the water. As she fell all the water animals including muskrat, otter, and turtle saw her fall mirrored in the water. They thought she was coming from the world below the water but the birds knew she was falling from the World beyond the Sky. Taking turns, Eagle, Geese and Ducks flapped their wings, made circles below her, and eased her falling to the water. As they flew they cried loudly to all the water creatures to gather and support her as she fell towards the water.
Turtle commanded the birds to keep circling beneath her while Turtle dove to the mud at the bottom of the water. As Turtle gathered mud, creating a large island on his back, he commanded the other water creatures to also gather mud in their paws.
As Turtle surfaced, all the other water creatures gathered the mud they had retrieved and packed it, too, onto the mound Turtle had formed from the water world. The birds then flew lower and the woman landed on Turtles mound of mud. As she landed, she was told to dance on this magic Earth in a Sunwise fashion. As she danced, Turtle began to grow into a great, great island.
From First Woman came First Daughter and from First Daughter came twin sons and from them came the rest of the children of Earth. All together the world of people and other animals was created from and lived upon the land that grew from the mud that is the back of Great Turtle.
This was the Time when there was plenty for everyone and everyone lived in harmony together. Every being took just what they needed and gave to others of what they had.
No one knows for sure why things changed. Some people say it was Coyote watching the humans start getting greedy and not sharing. Some people say it was the humans deep curiosity that got them in trouble just like Coyote gets in trouble. But everyone knows that what happened is that some people started going East; some people West; some people South and some People North. When they moved away they started taking with them parts of the magical Earth from Turtles back. Eventually the land broke up and got fragmented; so did the People. Then the People started fighting among themselves and doing wrong by the Animals. Turtle started trembling; the whole Earth shook. Many people drowned in that time. A few people came together from the four directions and among themselves agreed to bring back together the scattered groups of the people and live in harmony with all.
Now we see Turtle and we know we are still trying to bring all the pieces together again and that more of what we are is waiting to be reborn from the deep waters, from the mud.
May we bring all the pieces back together again and be the Mosaic One.