Native American Legends
Micmac Creation Story
A Micmac Legend
This story has been passed down from generation to generation since
time immemorial and it explains how Micmac people came into existence
in North America.
The story tells about the relationship between the Great Spirit
Creator and Human Beings and the Environment. It also explains a
philosophical view of life which is indigenous to North America.
This way of thinking is evident in the Native Languages and Cultures
and in the spiritual practices.
The fact that the Micmac people's language, culture and spiritualism
has survived for centuries is based on the creation story. Respect
for their elders has given them wisdom about life and the world
around them. The strength of their youth has given them the will
to survive. The love and trust of their motherhood has given them
a special understanding of everyday life.
Among the Micmac people, the number seven is very meaningful. There
are seven districts for distinct areas which encompasses an area
of land stretching from the Gaspé coast of Quebec and includes
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
The most powerful spirit medicine is made from seven barks and
roots. Seven men, representatives from each distinct area or Grand
Council District sit inside a sweat-lodge smoke the pipe and burn
the sweet grass. Inside the sweat-lodge, the Micmacs will pour water
over seven, fourteen and then twenty-one heated rocks to produce
hot steam. A cleansing or purification takes place. A symbolic rebirth
takes place and the men give thanks to the Spirit Creator, the Sun
and the Earth. They also give thanks the first family, Glooscap,
Nogami, Netaoansom, and Neganagonimgoosisgo.
Listen to the story...
Gisoolg is the Great Spirit Creator who is the one who made everything.
The word Gisoolg in Micmac means "you have been created".
It also means "the one credited for your existence".
The word does not imply gender. Gisoolg is not a He or a She, it
is not important whether the Great Spirit is a He or a She.
The Micmac people do not explain how the Great Spirit came into
existence only that Gisoolg is responsible for everything being
where it is today. Gisoolg made everything.
Nisgam is the sun which travels in a circle and owes its existence
to Isoolg. Nisgam is the giver of life. It is also a giver of light
The Micmac people believe that Nisgam is responsible for the creation
of the people on Earth. Nisgam is Gisoolg's helper. The power of
Nisgam is held with much respect among the Micmac and other aboriginal
peoples. Nisgam owes its existence to Gisoolg the Great Spirit Creator.
Ootsitgamoo is the Earth or area of land upon which the Micmac
people walk and share its abundant resources with the animals and
plants. In the Micmac language Oetsgitpogooin means "the person
or individual who stand upon this surface", or "the one
who is given life upon this surface of land". Ootsitgamoo refers
to the Micmac world which encompasses all the area where the Micmac
people can travel or have traveled upon.
Ootsitgamoo was created by Gisoolg and was placed in the center
of the circular path of Nisgam, the sun. Nisgam was given the responsibility
of watching over the Micmac world or Ootsitgamoo. Nisgam shines
bright light upon Oositgamoo as it passes around and this brought
the days and nights.
After the Micmac world was created and after the animals, birds
and plants were placed on the surface, Gisoolg caused a bolt of
lightening to hit the surface of Ootsitgamoo. This bolt of lightning
caused the formation of an image of a human body shaped out of sand.
It was Glooscap who was first shaped out of the basic element of
the Micmac world, sand. Gisoolg unleashed another bolt of lightening
which gave life to Glooscap but yet he could not move. He was stuck
to the ground only to watch the world go by and Nisgam travel across
the sky everyday.
Glooscap watched the animals, the birds and the plants grow and
pass around him. He asked Nisgam to give him freedom to move about
the Micmac world.
While Glooscap was still unable to move, he was lying on his back.
His head was facing the direction of the rising sun, east, Oetjgoabaniag
or Oetjibanoog. In Micmac these words mean "where the sun comes
up " and "where the summer weather comes from" respectively.
His feet were in the direction of the setting sun or Oetgatsenoog.
Other Micmac words for the west are Oeloesenoog, "where the
sun settles into a hallow" or Etgesnoog "where the cold
winds come from". Glooscap's right hand was pointed in the
direction of the north or Oatnoog.
His left hand was in the direction of the south or Opgoetasnoog.
So it was the third big blast of lightening that caused Glooscap
to become free and to be able to stand on the surface of the Earth.
After Glooscap stood up on his feet, he turned around in a full
circle seven times. He then looked toward the sky and gave thanks
to Gisoolg for giving him life. He looked down to the Earth or the
ground and gave thanks to Ootsigamoo for offering its sand for Glooscap's
He looked within himself and gave thanks to Nisgam for giving him
his soul and spirit. Glooscap then gave thanks to the four directions
east, north, west and south. In all he gave his heartfelt thanks
to the seven directions.
Glooscap then traveled to the direction of the setting sun until
he came to the ocean. He then went south until the land narrowed
and he came to the ocean. He then went south until the land narrowed
and he could see two oceans on either side. He again traveled back
to where he started from and continued towards the north to the
land of ice and snow. Later he came back to the east where he decided
It is where he came into existence. He again watched the animals,
the birds and the plants. He watched the water and the sky. Gisoolg
taught him to watch and learn about the world. Glooscap watched
but he could not disturb the world around him. He finally asked
Gisoolg and Nisgam, what was the purpose of his existence. He was
told that he would meet someone soon.
One day when Glooscap was traveling in the east he came upon a
very old woman. Glooscap asked the old woman how she arrived to
the Micmac world. The old woman introduced herself as Nogami. She
said to Glooscap, "I am your grandmother". Nogami said
that she owes her existence to the rock, the dew and Nisgam, the
Sun. She went on to explain that on one chilly morning a rock became
covered with dew because it was sitting in a low valley. By midday
when the sun was most powerful, the rock got warm and then hot.
With the power of Nisgam, the sun, Gisoolg's helper, the rock was
given a body of an old woman. This old woman was Nogami, Glooscap's
Nogami told Glooscap that she come to the Micmac world as an old
woman, already very wise and knowledgeable. She further explained
that Glooscap would gain spiritual strength by listening to and
having great respect for his grandmother. Glooscap was so glad for
his grandmother's arrival to the Micmac world he called upon Abistanooj,
a marten swimming in the river, to come ashore.
Abistanooj did what Glooscap had asked him to do. Abistanooj came
to the shore where Glooscap and Nogami were standing. Glooscap asked
Abistanooj to give up his life so that he and his grandmother could
live. Abistanooj agreed. Nogami then took Abistanooj and quickly
snapped his neck. She placed him on the ground. Glooscap for the
first time asked Gisoolg to use his power to give life back to Abistanooj
because he did not want to be in disfavor with the animals.
Because of marten's sacrifice, Glooscap referred to all the animals
as his brothers and sisters from that point on. Nogami added that
the animals will always be in the world to provide food, clothing,
tools, and shelter. Abistanooj went back to the river and in his
place lay another marten. Glooscap and Abistanooj will become friends
and brothers forever.
Nogami cleaned the animal to get it ready for eating. She gathered
the still hot sparks for the lightening which hit the ground when
Glooscap was given life. She placed dry wood over the coals to make
a fire. This fire became the Great Spirit Fire and later go to be
known as the Great Council Fire.
The first feast of meat was cooked over the Great Fire, or Ekjibuctou.
Glooscap relied on his grandmother for her survival, her knowledge
and her wisdom. Since Nogami was old and wise, Glooscap learned
to respect her for her knowledge. They learned to respect each other
for their continued interdependence and continued existence.
One day when Glooscap and Nogami were walking along in the woods,
they came upon a young man. This young man looked very strong because
he was tall and physically big. He had gray colored eyes. Glooscap
asked the young man his name and how he arrived to the Micmac world.
The young man introduced himself.
He told Glooscap that his name is Netaoansom and that he is Glooscap's
sister's son. In other words, his nephew. He told Glooscap that
he is physically strong and that they could all live comfortably.
Netaoansom could run after moose, deer and caribou and bring them
down with his bare hands. He was so strong.
Netaoansom said that while the east wind was blowing so hard it
caused the waters of the ocean to become rough and foamy. This foam
got blown to the shore on the sandy beach and finally rested on
the tall grass.
This tall grass is sweet grass. Its fragrance was sweet. The sweet
grass held onto the foam until Nisgam, the Sun, was high in the
midday sky. Nisgam gave Netaoansom spiritual and physical strength
in a human body. Gisoolg told Glooscap that if he relied on the
strength and power of his nephew he would gain strength and understanding
of the world around him.
Glooscap was so glad for his nephew's arrival to the Micmac world,
he called upon the salmon of the rivers and seas to come to shore
and give up their lives. The reason for this is that Glooscap, Netoansom
and Nogami did not want to kill all the animals for their survival.
So in celebration of his nephew's arrival, they all had a feast
of fish. They all gave thanks for their existence. They continued
to rely on their brothers and sisters of the woods and waters. They
relied on each other for their survival.
While Glooscap was sitting near a fire, Nogam was making clothing
out of animal hides and Netaoansom was in the woods getting food.
A woman came to the fire and sat beside Glooscap. She put her arms
around Glooscap and asked "Are you cold my son?" Glooscap
was surprised he stood up and asked the woman who she is and where
did she come from. She explained that she was Glooscap's mother.
Her name is Neganogonimgooseesgo. Glooscap waited until his grandmother
and nephew returned to the fire then he asked his mother to explain
how she arrived to the Micmac world.
Neganogonimgooseesgo said that she was a leaf on a tree which fell
to the ground. Morning dew formed on the leaf and glistened while
the sun, Nisgam, began its journey towards the midday sky. It was
at midday when Nisgam gave life and a human form to Glooscap's mother.
The spirit and strength of Nisgam entered into Glooscap's mother.
Glooscap's mother said that she brings all the colors of the world
to her children. She also brings strength and understanding. Strength
to withstand Earth's natural forces and understanding of the Micmac
world; its animals and her children, the Micmac. She told them that
they will need understanding and co-operation so they all can live
in peace with one another.
Glooscap was so happy that his mother came into the world and since
she came from a leaf, he called upon his nephew to gather nuts,
fruits of the plants while Nogami prepared a feast. Glooscap gave
thanks to Gisoolg, Nisgam, Ootsitgamoo, Nogami, Netaoansom and Neganogonimgooseesgo.
They all had a feast in honor of Glooscap's mother's arrival to
the world of Micmacs.
The story goes on to say that Glooscap, the man created from the
sand of the Earth, continued to live with his family for a very
long time. He gained spiritual strength by having respect for each
member of the family. He listened to his grandmother' s wisdom.
He relied on his nephew' s strength and spiritual power.
His mother' s love and understanding gave him dignity and respect.
Glooscap' s brothers and sisters of the wood and waters gave him
the will and the food to survive. Glooscap now learned that mutual
respect of his family and the world around him was a key ingredient
for basic survival. Glooscap's task was to pass this knowledge to
his fellow Micmac people so that they too could survive in the Micmac
world. This is why Glooscap became a central figure in Micmac story
One day when Glooscap was talking to Nogami he told her that soon
they would leave his mother and nephew. He told her that they should
prepare for that occasion. Nogami began to get all the necessary
things ready for a long journey to the North. When everyone was
sitting around the Great Fire one evening, Glooscap told his mother
and nephew that he and Nogami are going to leave the Micmac world.
He said that they will travel in the direction of the North only
to return if the Micmac people were in danger. Glooscap told his
mother and nephew to look after the Great Fire and never to let
it go out.
After the passing of seven winters, "elwigneg daasiboongeg",
seven sparks will fly from the fire and when they land on the ground
seven people will come to life. Seven more sparks will land on the
ground and seven more people will come into existence. From these
sparks will form seven women and seven men. They will form seven
families. These seven families will disperse into seven different
directions from the area of the Great Fire. Glooscap said that once
the seven families their place of destination, they will further
divide into seven groups.
Each group will have their own area for their subsistence so they
would not disturb the other groups. He instructed his mother that
the smaller groups would share the Earth's abundance of resources
which included animals, plants and fellow humans.
Glooscap told his mother that after the passing of seven winters,
each of the seven groups would return to the place of the Great
Fire. At the place of the fire all the people will dance, sing and
drum in celebration of their continued existence in the Micmac world.
Glooscap continued by saying that the Great Fire signified the power
of the Great Spirit Creator, Gisoolg. It also signified the power
and strength of the light and heat of Nisgam, the sun. The Great
Fire held the strength of Ootsitgamoo the Earth. Finally the fire
represented the bolt of lightening which hit the Earth from which
Glooscap was created. The fire is very sacred to the Micmacs. It
is the most powerful spirit on Earth.
Glooscap told his mother and nephew that it is important for the
Micmac to give honor, respect and thanks to the seven spiritual
elements. The fire signifies the first four stages of creation,
Gisoolg, Nisgam, Oositgamoo and Glooscap. Fire plays a significant
role in the last three stages as it represents the power of the
In honor of Nogamits arrival to the Micmac world, Glooscap instructed
his mother that seven, fourteen and twenty-one rocks would have
to be heated over the Great Fire. These heated rocks will be placed
inside a wigwam covered with hides of moose and caribou or with
mud. The door must face the direction of the rising sun. There should
be room from seven men to sit comfortably around a pit dug In the
center where up to twenty-one rocks could be placed. Seven alders,
seven wild willows and seven beech saplings will be used to make
the frame of the lodge. This lodge should be covered with the hides
of moose, caribou, deer or mud.
Seven men representing the seven original families will enter into
the lodge. They will give thanks and honor to the seven directions,
the seven stages of creation and to continue to live in good health.
The men will pour water over the rocks causing steam to rise in
the lodge to become very hot. The men will begin to sweat up to
point that it will become almost unbearable. Only those who believe
in the spiritual strength will be able to withstand the heat. Then
they will all come out of the lodge full of steam and shining like
new born babies. This is the way they will clean their spirits and
should honor Nogamits arrival.
In preparation of the sweat, the seven men will not eat any food
for seven days. They will only drink the water of golden roots and
bees nectar. Before entering the sweat the seven men will burn the
sweet grass. They will honor the seven directions and the seven
stages of creation but mostly for Netawansom's arrival to the Micmac
world. The sweet grass must be lit from the Great Fire.
Glooscap's mother came into the world from the leaf of a tree,
so in honor of her arrival tobacco made from bark and leaves will
be smoked. The tobacco will be smoked in pipe made from a branch
of a tree and a bowl made from stone.
The pipe will be lit from sweet grass which was lit from the Great
Fire. The tobacco made from bark, leaves and sweet grass represents
Glooscap's grandmother, nephew and mother. The tobacco called "spebaggan"
will be smoked and the smoke will be blown in seven directions.
After honoring Nogami's arrival the Micmac shall have a feast or
meal. In honor of Netawansom they will eat fish. The fruits and
roots of the trees and plants will be eaten to honor Glooscap's
Glooscap's final instruction to his mother told her how to collect
and prepare medicine from the barks and roots of seven different
kinds of plant. The seven plants together make what is called "ektjimpisun".
It will cure mostly every kind of illness in the Micmac world.
The ingredients of this medicine are: "wikpe" (alum willow),
"waqwonuminokse" (wild black-cherry), "Kastuk"
(ground hemlock), and "kowotmonokse" (red spruce).
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