Our individual stories begin with the story of our creation. My creation stories have come to me through the teachings of my tribe. My tribe is Pehanwabskek, the Penobscot Nation, a small island nation that floats in the Penobscot River. We are the people of the dawn land, the keepers of the Eastern gate. Our relatives are thePeskotomuhkati, Wolastoqiyak and Mi’ kmaq’i (Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Mik Maq); together we are the Wahponahki. Our homelands are located along various waterways in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.
I was born Penahwabskek and grew up on a small Indian reservation in central Maine. My community is located on a small island flanked on its eastern side by a series of white-water rapids. Penahwabskek literally means the place where the white rocks come out of the water. It was here that I first learned of my place in creation.
My tribe has a number of creation stories. Each story teaches us a different aspect of our being. One of those stories tells us that we were created when Kluskap, the man from nothing, shot an arrow into the ash tree and opened a doorway into this world. This story teaches us that we are made of the same elements that make up the natural world. We are born out of the ash tree. Thus, the ash tree is our kin and should be honored in the same way that we honor our human family. Today, our tribes still recognize our relationship with the ash tree by weaving our traditional baskets from its pulp. When we weave those baskets we are reminding ourselves that we are woven from the same foundational elements that make up all life on this planet.
Our origination stories begin in the stars. When we go into ceremony, we learn that the stars contain our original instructions, held in the dust of Creation that lingers on the Creator’s hand. We were born from the radiance of that star dust. From it, the great migration of souls first began.
When we come into this universe, we are born into our first ecosystem, our mother’s womb, where an umbilical connection to the body of our birth mother nurtures and sustains us. When we are born into this world, our umbilical connection is transferred from our birth mother to the Earth mother. Our umbilical connection with the Earth mother then nurtures and sustains us for the remainder of our human lives.
Though we have migrated a great distance, the radiance of that stardust still resonates within us. It is the essence of something indescribable etched upon our soul, which stirs deep within. This stirring is a call of recognition, of remembrance. It reminds us that we are infinitely connected to one another, to the natural world, and to a unified divine source.
Evidence of our shared origin is all around us. Science has finally caught up with what we have always known, that we are related to every living and nonliving thing in this universe. It is simply the arrangement of those elements that gives distinct form to what we see before us. We share DNA with all other living beings. About 98 percent of our DNA is shared with primates, and about 30 percent is shared with plants. Our bodies, and the bodies of all living things, are composed of stardust and water. We all come from the same source, the same fundamental elements.