The Creation of the World According to the Mi’gmaq


My name is Stephen Augustine. I am a Hereditary Chief of the Mi'gmaq Grand Council. My grandmother, who lived to be 100 years old, passed this story on to me. This is part of the Mi'gmaq creation story.
In Mi'gmaq tradition there are seven levels of creation. These levels correspond to seven stages in the creation of the world. The first level is the act of creation itself. Some people would call it the Creator, but in Mi'gmaq culture it is more about the wonder and unfolding of creation. The word we use is Kisúlk. This means “you are being created.” Kisúlk is the Giver of Life.
The second level is the Sun, which we call Niskam, or Grandfather. When we stand in the Sun we cast a shadow. The shadow represents the spirits of our ancestors. Grandfather Sun puts spirit into life.
The third level is Sitqamúk, Mother Earth. Mother Earth gives us all the necessities of life through the elements of the earth: water, rocks, soils, plants, animals, fish and so on. Mother Earth sustains life.
The fourth level of creation is Kluskap, the First-One-Who-Spoke. He is created from a bolt of lightning that hits the surface of Mother Earth. He is made of the elements of the earth: feathers, bone, skin, dirt, grass, sand, pebbles and water. An eagle comes to Kluskap with a message from the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun and Mother Earth. The eagle tells Kluskap that he will be joined by his family, who will help him understand his place in this world.
The first of Kluskap family to arrive is the Grandmother, Nukumi. She is formed from a rock. She brings wisdom and knowledge. The Grandmother is the fifth level of creation.
The next of Kluskap family to arrive is the Nephew, Netawansum. He is formed from the sweet-smelling grass. He brings strength and can see into the future. The Nephew is the sixth level of creation.
The last of Kluskaps family to arrive is the Mother, Níkanaptekewísqw. She is formed from a leaf. She brings love for all her children, so that they will care for one another. She also brings the colours of the world. The Mother is the seventh level of creation.
As each member of his family arrives, Kluskap asks his fellow beings - the animals, the fish, and the plants - to sustain the Mi'gmaq people. Kluskap also calls upon the wind to fan the sparks left by the first bolt of lightning. This gives birth to the Great Spirit Fire. The seven families of the Algonquin people are formed from sparks that fly out of this fire and land upon the Earth. The Mi'gmaq are one of these families.