2000 version: as recorded in late 1999. Document location unknown when 2016 story rewritten from memory,
This is a story that has never been written down, until now. It is sacred and has been passed down with great care. But this is no time to stand on ceremony. He’s getting very tired.
The abstract version goes like this:
Long, long ago in the swirling mists of time, our people came to know that our land would be submerged. People were sent out to find a suitable place for us. They found a great river with a wide mouth, a river that ebbed and flowed, like the one at home. So we packed up everything and moved. And there we stayed, because we don’t like to walk.
One thing more: Our dead are buried facing east because that is the direction from which we came.
Here’s what really happened:
For some time, there had been growing concern and controversy, over the use of the power source. The increased uses of power led to attempts to increase output. This was very dangerous and caused much friction. People were having dreams of disasters. The wise ones were having visions of what was to come. Some spoke of these concerns in the Council meetings but most would not listen. They had forgotten the upheavals of the past, when the land had split. Their had lost their connection. With so many unwilling to remember, there was little hope of avoiding the consequences.
But the dreams and visions were becoming more frequent and more vivid. Groups began making plana. Scouts were sent out to find suitable places to which people could move, places that would survive the coming events. One such place was the Yucatan. Others were in the Andes, as well as in Egypt, China, etc. Our group chose the river we called the Muhheakannituck, the great river which ebbs and flows, like the one around which we lived, for we are the people of the ebb and flow, or the good canoe people, The river would be known as the Muhheakannituck for millennia until the time of the Schwanniken. But who knew. That is another story.
We settled our affairs and packed our most precious belongings: family heirlooms and documents, as well as books, furniture, jewelry and clothing. Tools , instruments, building materials, livestock, plants, seeds, supplies and food items were carefully considered and packed up. When all was ready, we loaded everything aboard ships, bid our goodbyes and moved to our new home around the mouth of the great river, the Muhheakannituck.
For a while life was not all that different. We kept in touch with those left behind and around the world. Homes were built on high ground. The low areas were used for planting, harvesting and gathering food, fishing hunting and exploring. However, conditions were becoming more and more unstable. The weather was erratic. Transportation accidents increased. People traveled and less.
Then it happened. All was quiet. The animals were silent. The storms came. The earth moved and kept moving. As recorded on the story stick “The waters rose up and came down”. It was a long time before it was realized that the land shifted.
Many were lost. The buffalo were hit by lightning. The wooly mammoths survived only by lying down in circles surrounded by rocks. The little ocean was now a big ocean. The little islands disappeared.
Hearts were very heavy. People who had tried to come across the water drowned in the attempt. There was little chance of seeing those who had gone to other locations. Those who had stayed behind were never seen again.
Then the rains came. It rained and rained and rained some more. It seemed the rain would never stop. The waters rose higher and higher still. It rained for weeks and months. Gradually, it rained less and less. It even went whole days without rain. Clouds covered the earth. Eventually, after a long time, we saw the sun again. Still the waters rose.
Life was not the same as before. Now, the primary concern was food and water. Food stocks ran low but the seed stock could not be touched or there would be no future. There had been major climate changes.
There was still time to think and reflect, even time for conversation. But this had to be done while one worked. Even the children and the elders worked. But not everyone worked.
The men were very lethargic, listless and depressed over the loss of so many. They had no energy. The women started gardens and thought about how to make the men strong again. They told stories to cheer up themselves and the men. They tried to get the men to fish but the men fell in.
So they had the men walk after the deer. The first day, the men could only go a few yards. The next day, they went a little further. The day after, they went a little farther. The men continued following the deer day after day. They were soon running. Eventually they ran long distances after the deer, catching them with their hands. The Odawas (the traders) were the first to try this solution, which is why they became the traders.
Millenia later, during the Revolutionary War, the Muhheakannuck served as George Washington’s post office for Ben Franklin, running hundreds of miles to deliver messages for the General and return with the responses. But these are other stories
There were many who did not survive this period for the hardships were great. Those who walked on were buried lying in a fetal position, in shallow graves, facing the rising sun, for that is the direction from which we had come. But we did not originally come from there.
Life went on around the Muhheakannituck. The Muhheakannuck were an agriculture people and returned to this way of life of life. Seeds were planted and crops carefully harvested. The wildlife was carefully observed and conditions compared with those before the disaster. It was quickly realized that conservation in the use of this resource was a must.
The Muhheakannuck had always been respectful of resources, taking care not to waste and not to overuse. Mother Earth was respected for all she provides and we kept in close contact with her. This is how we had come to know it would be necessary to move. But now, it was a matter of life and death. We would not survive as a people without careful stewardship of all resources by everyone.
Building the future
After much thought, a plan was developed to provide for all to the seventh generation. If resources can be made to last for seven generations, by each generation, they will last forever. This meant that in lean years we had to cut back, even do without. We denied ourselves so that our grandchildren’s grandchildren would live. We were successful for a very long time.
Conserving resources also included remembering history. Those who do not remember the past and learn from it are fated to relive it. Unfortunately, people who move tend to forget what they left behind. They forget even faster when the circumstances are traumatic.
It was also known, but only by a few, that this test would come again.
The need to remember was recognized. However, resources were inadequate to preserve information as hard copy and distribute it to the people. And there was always the danger that any hard copy could be lost or wear out. Mihheakanuck record stories on their clothing but this doesn’t last. A way had to be developed so that certain things would always be remembered. After the Shift, storytelling was used to relieve depression and the sadness of the losses. Oral story telling has always been popular but it had not been used for a long time as the primary of recording history.
It was now decided to revive this use of oral story telling. The storyteller position was accorded importance equal with that of the healers and the leaders. He or she was exempted from other work, even in hard times. Stories were carefully crafted so that people would not only remember the events but more importantly, the significance of these events and the lessons to be learned. The syoryteller passed on stories to his handpicked successor with no change in details.
A method of remembering was developed which medical students use today. Facts are related to each other through another object that is not necessarily related to the story. This led to the development of story sticks. There purpose is to jog the memory of the storyteller. Each item on the stick is another story. These sticks were copied, studied and preserved up to the present time only to stolen in August 1967 following the deaths of two Sagamores that year. There were about 5 dozen sticks, wrapped in leather and store in wooden cases, which were stored in a chest. The chest was stolen from the home of the Sagamore during/after the funeral. Only one person living today can read these sticks that were held by the Muhheakannuck.
Another area requiring preservation was the knowledge of crafts. There were many skilled crafters among the people. Some had made a living at one of the needed crafts in the homeland, but many did a particular craft or two as a form of relaxation. It was decided that everyone would learn a craft well so that there would always be someone who knew how to produce the clothes, tools and implements needed. People might know several crafts, but they would become expert in at least one. In time, this developed into groups specializing in one particular craft, such as making pottery, basket and cloth weaving, tanning, woodcarving, fire making, fishing, etc.
There was also the development of new crafts, due to the lack of old resources and the presence of new ones. As people experimented and developed new skills, this knowledge was shared with others.
As you may have surmised, there was no question of ownership. Everything was shared as needed and available. Individuals owned their own housing, tools and clothing. However, if someone else had a need they were shared. All worked for the common good. This was not necessarily from altruism but because all had learned the lesson that the survival of the people depended on it. All were alive because they had listened to their heart.
Life went on around the Muhheakannituck. The population increased. The Pennakook, the bird people moved northeast. Groups of families again moved up the Muhheakannituck on both sides, moving ever further north. They also moved to neighboring rivers east and west of the great river. Schodac, the fireplace (capitol) was moved several times, finally to the area around what is today Albany, New York. In the 1600s, it was the center of Muhheakan territory.
Life fell into a routine. Winter is the time for stories and crafting, and in the evenings, listening to the storyteller. The end of winter was the time of snow cones. When the sap started to flow, maple trees were tapped, and the syrup collected on snow held in bark rolled in a cone shape. This was a great treat.
Spring is the time to plant. Everyone pitched in. Corn, beans, squash grew together, shaded from the strong sun by the trees. The squash family included everything from cucumbers to pumpkins. First, a small fish or a part of a fish was put in a hole, covered over with a little dirt, then the seeds were put in and covered over. This was repeated until there was enough planted to feed the village and then some. The corn supported the beans and the squash spread its vines. Other crops were potatoes, tomatoes, melons, rice and tobacco. Spring was also a time for the first major hunt of the year. Flowers used for healing and seasonal herbs were also gathered and dried now and later in the summer.
The early corn was harvested in the beginning of summer which was celebrated with a feast. More corn (mon) was planted. Summer is also the time for gathering berries of all kinds: strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. There was another major hunting trip and/or fishing expedition.
Autumn is harvest time. People hunted for winter meat, stored root crops in the storage pits and cellars and repaired homes to withstand the winter storms.
And life went on. Muhheakannuk multiplied and prospered for eons.