This is the story of Meesingw
In order to truly understand ourselves and our relationship to the environment, we have to walk our understanding back to creation – to the time when we, Lunaape (human beings) were created = back to the time when we made our first treaty with creation.
It is said that everything in creation was here prior to human beings coming into this world. All the ayayasak (animals), awehlahooshak (birds), axkookusak (insects), mihtukwak (trees), miixuskwal (grasses), nameesak (fish) – all of nature was here before human beings and they all lived in harmony with each other. They understood their relationships and relied on their interdependence on each other to live in beauty.
There came a time when Kiisheelumukweengw (Creator) called a Great Council of creation together. It is believed that all of creation lives in families just as humans do and each family of creation has their own chiefs – the birds have chiefs, the fish have chiefs and so on and so on. This Great Council that was called consisted of the chiefs of everything in creation. At this meeting of chiefs, Kiisheelumukweengw told of his vision to create Lunaape (human beings).
Kiisheelumukweengw explained to the chiefs that these human beings that he/she was going to create were going to be very pitiful – that they were going to be dependent on the rest of the family of creation for everything. They were going to need food, heat, clothing, shelter and medicine just to survive. Creator also said that the human beings also needed to be shown by the animals - teachings on how to treat and support one another.
After the Great Council completed - the chiefs returned to their homes they discussed the Creator’s vision of Lunaape coming to creation. As they met with each other – it was the animals that became concerned with the fact that these new human beings were going to come and just take and take and take. The animals knew it was going to be a huge sacrifice. It was going – in fact to be their own family members that were going to have to offer their lives in order for human beings to exist.
With this concern in mind the animals came together and collectively decided that it wasn’t such a great idea for humans to come into creation – especially if they were just going to take and take and take. The animals decided that they should go to Kiisheelumukweengw and tell him/her that they didn’t think it was a good idea for Lunaape to come into creation and that he/she should rethink his/her vision to bring human beings into creation.
But who was it that they should send to Kiisheelumukweengw to deliver their message. The animals looked at each other and no one wanted to question the Creator. So it was finally decided that the animals should ask the most respected warrior that they had – Meesingw.
There is no English translation for the word Meesingw – the closest we have to compare in todays worldview is what people call the Bigfoot. Meesingw is a spiritual being known as the keeper of the animals – their protector – the one who looks out for them. Meesingw is a giant – some say Meesingw is a bear/human like being. Our representation of Meesingw is a red and black mask we use in our ceremonies.
Meesingw accepted the request of the animals to go speak to the creator and so he travelled to the place of the creator. When Meesingw got to the Creator he told Kiisheelumukweengw of the animals concern for their families and explained that the animals believed in was not a good idea for Lunaape (human beings) to come into creation – that creation didn’t need them – it was fine without them.
Kiisheelumukweengw understood their concerns but did not agree that he should go against his vision to create human beings. Meesingw pleated with the Creator to change her/his mind. Kiisheelumukweengw said to the Meesingw – Do you think that you can do my job – that you should be Creator. Meesingw seeing no other way to convince Creator said yes if that’s what it takes I can do your job.
Kiisheelumukweengw said to Meesingw – if you can prove to me you have the trust of Creation to do my job – you can do it. Meesingw said how do I prove that to you. Kiisheelumukweengw said – Do you see those mountains over there – They are the oldest relatives that you have in creation – They have been here the longest – if you can convince them to move one inch you can have my job.
Meesingw turned to the numoxoomusak (grandfathers) and began to pray to them. Meesingw danced and sang songs – Meesingw pleated with them – he begged them to move – but they would not. Exhausted he turned to the Kiisheelumukweengw and said I cannot get them to move. Kiisheelumukweengw said to Meesingw – Turn around and look at your grandfathers.
When Meesingw turned around the mountains instantly travelled forwarded right into Meesingw’s face – flattening it – which is why it is flat today. Meesingw knew at that moment that the Creator’s vision of Lunaape coming into creation was what was meant to be. Kiisheelumukweengw at that time ensured Meesingw that Lunaape (human beings) would be given instructions so that they would always understand the sacrifice that animals – that all in creation would be giving for their existence.
Once human beings were created Kiisheelumukweengw called a Great Council of Creation again. At this council each Chief from the different families stepped forward and committed their future generations as gifts to human beings from that time forth forever. Each chief stepped forward and explained what food, medicine or other type gift their family had to offer the Lunaape.
Kiisheelumukweengw then explained that Lunaape should honour that relationship and always teach in celebration their future generations to remember the importance of everything in creation. This is why the Lunaape Bighouse – our ceremonial lodge exists. It is a lodge where Lunaape gather to celebrate life through teachings, dance and songs of creation. The Bighouse represents creation in is form with 12 Meesingw masks outlining the different moons and realms of creation.
Because of Meesingw – Lunaape entered into this first treaty with creation. This treaty outlined the four laws of the Lunaape – Kindness, Honesty, Respect and Sharing. Lunaape are to follow these laws in all of their relationships with the many families of creation. In October the time of harvest – the Lunaape hold their Gaamwing Ceremony – a 12-day ceremony during the full moon inside their Bighouse lodge.
Bighouse lodges are just being reestablished in Lunaape communities’ across Turtle Island. Due to colonization, these lodges have not existed for almost 100 years – but now are being revitalized by some Lunaape families.
We have chosen to name our environmental organization in honour of Meesingw to remind us in our organizations work to remember our ancestor’s original instructions from Kiisheelumukweenw and the Natural Laws of Creation that govern our responsibilities and interdependence within it.