A. Sutherland – MessageToEagle.com – Numerous mythical stories explain Earth’s creation and how this came to be.
Among the Algonquian folktales and traditional stories, which belong to 35 different Native American tribes from Long Island to California, there is one myth about Gluskap (also known as Glooscap, Gluskabe, Gluscabi, Koluscap), a trickster god, a mythic hero who – according to some myths – made the whole world from the body of his own mother.
It is said that Gluskap came from the East, though he had the form of a man. He taught the Indians all that they know – everything from the names of the stars to how to hunt and fish – and is portrayed in most stories as a wise man.
His brother Malsum, a wolf-god, was also a creator god, but according to the Algonquians, he was responsible for creating all the evil things of this world, that threatened and infuriated human beings.
Gluskap was considered the protector of humankind, while Malsum was constantly trying to harm people.
However, Gluskap could get very angry at those who do not follow his advice. According to one Algonquian story, a young man goes to Gluskap asking for help in finding a wife. The man is ugly and has been avoided by hundreds of women whom he asked to be his wife. Gluskap gives him a small parcel, with instructions not to open the package until he gets home.
Though the man’s friends beg him not to open it on the way home, the man cannot resist his curiosity. He opens the package and hundreds of beautiful young women fly out in all directions and bury the man beneath their weight.
His cries for help in vain and moments later, he is crushed into the earth. The next morning all the women have vanished and all that’s left of are remains of the young man’s crushed bones lying on the ground.
Gluskap also had no mercy for those who asked him for immortality, he simply turned them into rocks or trees, though in general, he is a benevolent deity who will grant most reasonable requests.
In one version of this creation story, Gluskap’s brother Malsum killed him with the feather of an owl – the only thing that could harm Gluskap, but the great benevolent hero returned to life and killed evil Malsum with a fern, so Malsum became an evil wolf, Lox.
Still, Gluskap had to defeat evil sorcerers, Kewawkqu and Medecolin – Malsum’s demon followers, who tried to avenge their leader’s death.
The legend has it that Gluskap finally defeated the forces of evil and when this was done, he gave a great feast for all the animals on the shores of Lake Minas and then sailed off in his canoe.
The animals, who had previously all spoken the same language, discovered that each species spoke a different language once he had gone.
Gluskap is sometimes depicted as a rabbit, though it is said he – as a shapeshifter – can take whichever shape he wants.
He is expected to return as a savior of his people when they are most in need.
Written by – A. Sutherland – MessageToEagle.com Senior Staff Writer