"To you Kitchi-Manitou has given the Book
To us He has given the Earth."
Red Jacket of the Seneca Nation
North American Indians were as keen observers as the scientists of today. But, unlike modern scientists who conduct their research indoors, North American Indians conducted their studies in the natural setting of the earth under natural conditions. Nor did they limit their reports to fact and data. They went beyond that. They used fact and data as bases for stories that exemplified something of human nature and conduct to be imitated or spurned.
It was through stories drawn from the dramas taking place on the earth among other living creatures that tribal teachers passed along the tribe's values, beliefs, teachings, traditions, understandings. Everything. Manitous, insects, birds, animals, fish and humans were characters in these stories, just as they play large roles in life.
North American Indians didn't have books such as European and other races had, but they had the greatest book of all, "Mother Earth", a book that preceded all other books. I have set the chapters in this text in the order in which the Anishinaubae people believed that creation was carried out, by stages. And I've written down as many stories in each chapter as would, I hope, exemplify what Red Jacket meant when he said, " to us He has given the earth."
Return to the Basil Johnston website