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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Nanabush Creates the New World

Nanabush Creates the New World

2015 - Art Winner

Joshua Pawis-Steckley

Parry Sound, ON
Wasauksing First Nation
Age 25

Author's Statement

My piece focuses on the art of storytelling and Aboriginal folklore. I had always remembered growing up listening to my Nan tell stories of frogs sucking toes off or little Anishnaabe people. These stories had always fascinated me. They lit a fire under my imagination and inspired me to think outside the box. Aboriginal Stories have always had a transcendental quality to them that inspires the soul. They teach lessons and morals while being interesting enough to keep the attention of the youth with their magical story lines.

My piece is an illustration of the story of how Nanabush created the New World. An old Ojibway story in a book I had growing up. In the old world Nanabush and his brother lived peacefully with the birds and animals while evil serpent people lived under the water. One day the Serpent men had killed Nanabush’s brother and Nanabush seeked revenge by killing the Serpent leader. After Nanabush had completed his mission the rest of the serpent people flooded the lands to drown out Nanabush. But before they could, Nanabush made a raft and told all the birds and animals to climb aboard. The water rose and and the animals floated atop. Nanabush then dried out some sand, formed it into a tiny globe and gently blew on it. The globe grew big enough to fit two ants. The ants spun the ball, which made it grow even more until it was big enough to fit two mice. Then the mice spun it. This kept on going until two moose, the biggest of all the land animals, were able to fit on and spin it. Nanabush then climbed onto the enormous globe and declared it the New World. The one which we live on today.

To me, this story reflects how we can create magic out of nothing. Build a whole new world with only hard work, creativity and our imagination. We all have the power in ourselves to create the lives we were meant to live. This story and many more like this have been passed down through our people from generation to generation and hold just as much of who we are as any other part of our culture. These stories hold the teachings of our ancestors and should be remembered and told to preserve our heritage for many more generations to come.