Nebi: Ojihozo

Ojihozo: As told by Joe Bruchac is being republished here with permission of the author. Please do not copy or distribute further without the express permission of the author.

Listen. Long ago, when Tabaldak, the Owner, had finished making things, some of the dust of creation was still on the Owner’s hands. So Tabaldak began to brush that dust away. It sprinkled down upon the earth. Where it fell upon the earth, the earth began to move about. It began to shape itself. It shaped itself a torso. It shaped itself a head. It shaped itself shoulders, arms, and hands; it shaped itself hips. Then that earth which shaped itself sat up. Awani gia? said Tabaldak. Who are you? Ojihozo nia, said that earth which shaped itself. I am Ojihozo. I am the One Gathering Himself Together. You are very wonderful, said Tabaldak. Nda, said Ojihozo. No. You are the one who is wonderful. You are the one who sprinkled me. Then Ojihozo looked around. All around was the beauty of the newly created earth. And Ojihozo became eager to get up and see it. But, like a small child eager to walk before he can, Ojihozo did not notice that he was not yet ready to walk. He had not yet shaped legs and feet. He was still connected to the earth. So Ojihozo tried to stand. He pushed very hard to one side and he did not move. He pushed harder and harder, so hard that the earth was pushed up into mountains. Those mountains today are called the Green Mountains. But still he could not stand. Then Ojihozo pushed very hard to the other side. He pushed so hard that the earth rose up into mountains on that side, too. Today those mountains are called the Adirondacks. But still he could not stand. Now Ojihozo reached out his long arms. He reached all the way to the mountaintops to either side of him. Then he pulled, trying to pull himself up. His fingers gouged down the channels of the rivers. Otter Creek, the Winooski, the Lamoille, and all the other rivers were formed then. But still he could not stand. Then Ojihozo saw that Tabaldak was looking at him. Tabaldak looked at him with that look of patience a parent shows when a child does something wrong but that parent is determined to let the child learn through his own mistake. Ojihozo looked at himself then. He saw that he was still connected to the earth. He did not have legs or feet yet. Then Ojihozo reached down. He shaped legs and feet for himself. Then he stood. And when he stood, he left behind him a great hole in the earth. The waters flowed in and made that hole into a big lake. It is called Bitawbagok, The Waters In Between, by the Dawnland People, though on the maps it is called Lake Champlain. If you look at a map, you can see the shape there of a sitting person, his legs toward the north. That is the shape of Ojihozo. Then Ojihozo walked around. He walked around for a long time seeing many things. But when he was done, he returned to the beautiful lake and the beautiful mountains he had made. This was where he wished to stay. He sat down upon a small island and changed himself into stone. He sits there to this day, watching over the mountains and the lake. So the story goes.