At the beginning of the time when people came to be on earth, there was a world high above where we now stand. This land was so high that it was not visible from the earth. It is not known how long the Sky World was there, nor how it got there. It has always been accepted that the Sky World always was an everlasting form of existence. Perhaps this is the start of how the Rotinonhsyonni showed respect for the teachings of the ancestors. Trusting perhaps mixed with some wonder but with no question, has been a long tradition.
In the Sky World there stood a tree that grew at the very center of this celestial world. On this tree grew every fruit. The sky people were permitted to eat freely from the tree. They were also warned not to bring harm to this tree which was a great source of nurturance for the people. They were also warned that they were not to touch the roots in case it would cause harm to the tree.
In the Sky, World lived a young chief and his wife. The chief’s wife was pregnant and as with many expectant women; she began to have strange cravings. She had cravings for certain kinds of plants or certain kinds of meats. She sometimes insisted on very specific blends of plants for seasonings or teas. She often sent her husband on many journeys to help fulfill her cravings.
Her husband was a humble person. He was rather kind and gentle and easily taken advantage of, especially by her. But he would go without argument or question and try with much difficulty to please his wife. His wife…on the other hand… was at times a bit unpleasant and hard to please.
One day she had a new craving, a very unique and unexplainable craving. She approached him with some hesitation but in the end, she had no problem asking him, as he always did what she asked. You see she craved a drink made from the roots of the great tree.
She asked him some questions: Do you love me?… Will you always love me?… Do you think cravings are natural when carrying a child, …your child?… Would you still love me if I asked to go on another journey?…
Her husband, who loved her dearly, listened as she explained her particular dilemma. She told him of her nausea and how their unborn child was kicking, probably with the same craving. The husband did quietly hold much uncertainty in his heart. But she sent her husband anyway, to retrieve the roots to make the drink that she craved.
The husband was very concerned about her odd request. He knew that they were not to touch anything on the tree except for the fruit that it would bear. He walked with much hesitation. He considered all of the consequences that such actions could
have on him, his wife, their unborn child and the people. He walked toward the tree, but become increasingly despondent regarding his wife’s request.
Sadly, he decided that he could not fulfill her request, however he continued to walk. It is not known for sure if he continued to walk to the tree or if he wandered to another path to where his existence would forever remain unknown.
The woman waited a long time for her husband to return. She waited so long that she became impatient. She paced the lodge complaining that he wasn’t back yet. She continued to pace and complain. How could he take so long, even though I am carrying his child?
After what seemed like a very long time her impatience caused her to go looking for her husband. She searched all over the Sky World for him. After searching for him for a very long time she finally decided to go to the great tree to retrieve the roots for herself.
She arrived at the tree. She decided that although her husband was supposed to go for the roots, he didn’t return, therefore she would have to make the drink herself. She approached the tree and examined the area, which would best suit her needs. Her pregnant state caused her to use much care when bending to gather the roots for her drink.
She knelt beside the tree digging for the roots, which she desired. She dug with her hands but in order to reach the roots of the tree, she had to pick some smaller plants, which were in her way. She held on to the small plants with one hand and continued to dig with the other. As she leaned over she heard a sound. Unsure of what she heard, she bent over further. As her curiosity grew, she leaned in even further. It seemed to be the same sound that water makes when running, like a river.
Throughout time storytellers have varied in what next happened. Some expressed that from her curiosity she leaned too far over she simply fell. Others say her husband, out of anger, snuck up on her and pushed her through a hole under where she was digging. Still, other variations of the story say that another family member or another type of natural force, perhaps a wind caused her fall. It may have been an accident or it may have been an act of frustration from a family member, possibly even her husband, but within the next moments, she found herself passing through a hole at the base of the great tree.
Borrowed from Elizabeth Doxstater, Mohawk storyteller and revised by Sakoieta’ Wakathahahión:ni, Mohawk – Wolf Clan Knowledge Keeper