The Wisdom of the First Animal Elders

The Story of Grandmother Turtle and the Creation of Earth (Tula)

It is told to us by the Ancestors, in our oral traditions, that when we seek knowledge to see the important things, we must go on a quest, a spiritual search, to walk on the other side of the web of life. This long-held tradition has always been our greatest guidance to wisdom.

In the oral tradition of my People, the Mide’ Shawnee, I would like to help you understand our relationship to the land and our first quest story, of our Grandmother, and the earth.

A long time ago, in the time of our first grandfathers and our grandmothers (yes, we too have grandparents), before there were the two-legged humans, before Tula the earth existed, there was only water. Everywhere as far as one could see there was only water. Swimming in that great sea were all the People, the birds, and the animals.

One day a voice cried out, “Oh great Creator, we are very tired of swimming. Why is there no place to rest? Could you please give us a place to lay upon?”

And the voice of Creator spoke: “Why have you not asked before? I have been waiting. I will help you make your place to rest.” Creator continued, “At the bottom of the water, there is much mud where the great Tula Geah, the Earth Mother, lives. If one of you will bring back a piece of the Earth mud, I will make a place for you to rest,” and the Voice was silent.

So all the People decided that “someone” should dive to the bottom for a piece of the mud. Then they would have a place to stand or lay.

Old Grandmother Turtle, in her crackled way said, “I will do it!”

And in unison, all the People said, “Oh no, Grandmother, one of the younger people will do it. You are too old.”

First was the duck. “I can do it,” he said as he took a big breath and dove. Down, down, down he went, and up, up, up he came.

“Where is the mud? Did you find the mud?” they asked.

And he answered, short of breath, “no.”

Grandmother Turtle again volunteered. And all repeated, “You are too old.”

Each of the people in turn tried. Taking even bigger breaths of air, they went ever deeper, down, down, down. And up, up, up, with no mud.

Each time Grandmother would say, “But I can do it.”

Finally, all had tried. And now because they were exhausted from their futile attempts and desperately wanted a place to lay, they finally agreed, “Alright Grandmother, you try.”

First, she took a really big breath, and because she was wise, she took another even bigger breath. With a splash, she dove down, down, down . . . down, down, down. Until they could no longer see her shadow in the water. She had been under for a very long time now, and all the People knew she had drowned. And they were sad.

Then bubbles slowly began to appear. Bluup. Bluup bluup, bluup bluup bluup. Suddenly, there was a great commotion in the water. Deep in the cobalt blue they saw the shape of the old turtle.

She was rising, up, up, up; and at last she broke the surface with a great gulp for air.

On her shell was a piece of mud. Instantly, keeping His promise, Creator made much land from the Tula on the shell of the old turtle.

Now all the People had a place to rest. All the people were very happy. And Grandmother Turtle was the happiest of all.

The oldest of them had caused the creation of Tula, for the young not yet born, from the earth that had been brought from the depths.

The next time you see a turtle, look at her shell. You will see it is all fractured, cracked from the weight of carrying the world on her back. Then you will remember the time when this storyteller told you of the creation of Tula, the land we call earth.

It is my job to tell you of these things. It is my job to help you understand our connection with all that is in and about us.

Aden, it is done.

Aden, it is done.


In the Mide’way we learn to glean wisdom from all life… The how, why, and when each event of object impacts our lives.

Your assignment is to please leave up to three comments on how

This story addresses FEAR!

This story guides TIME!

This story discovers JOY!

This story creates BALANCE!

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Posted in Balance, Fear, Joy, Time, Vision.

The Keepers

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