The Petition to Earthmaker

by Jaspar Blowsnake
retold by Richard L. Dieterle


Jasper Blowsnake

There long ago was a man and he had pity on one of his friends. He wished to help him, so he set his thoughts in motion. Deeply his thoughts penetrated, and widely they spread. He sent his thoughts and desire deep below the earth and sent tobacco with them. Then he sent his thoughts upwards to the realm of Earthmaker himself. Then, unexpectedly, there appeared a man in front of Earthmaker. The man spoke to him, telling the Creator what he so fervently wished. And he said, "Hear me, O Earthmaker. Your creations, the two-legged walkers, lead a pitiable life on the face of the earth. We stumble along the Road. It is true that you have instructed us well on how we may obtain Light, and we have tried hard to do as you have taught; but we now seek real life from you. This we humbly petition from you." Earthmaker heard his plea.

And the man's thoughts had come to the earth where Trickster dwelt. Trickster in his turn sent his thoughts upward to Earthmaker, to reinforce what the man had asked. Turtle too, the one whom we call "the Warrior," sent his thoughts into the blue yonder, and they were taken in by Earthmaker. Then the third of the spirits that Earthmaker had created by his own hands, he too sent his thoughts upward to the Creator. Then the man's thoughts and desires reached Hare, the one whom we call "the Nephew." Hare spoke to the man saying, "My dear uncle, you have spoken the truth." Then Hare sat there thinking to himself.

Then the man returned to earth. He was given much by the spirits. Taking what he had, he made a pilgrimage to one of the Island Weights, great and quiet, whom Earthmaker himself had set in his place. And there in the lodge of the Island Weight were many spirits gathered together in council. The man went in and let all within hear his thoughts. Then, unexpectedly, a great Light came into being. The spirits, being like us in body, filled the lodge with thoughts of Life. Earthmaker had told them to have pity upon the two-legged walkers, and the spirits had obeyed him.

This man became an Ancestor Host in the Medicine Rite.1


Commentary. "the two-legged walkers" — a formulaic expression for human beings. Humanity was the last and weakest of Earthmaker's creations.

"Road" — the Road of Life and Death. The path that people take through time is given a spatial analogue in the form of a road that leads from birth through the time of ascension into the afterlife.

"Light" — Hočąk Hąp, "light, day." It is used as a metaphor for life, in the sense of the sum of all things that promote a good and full life, especially spiritually.

"real life" — in Hare's initial mission at the behest of Earthmaker, he taught humanity how they should live. But now the petitioner pleads for an extension of the human lifespan, and for the power to be reborn a number of times. This extension is to be achieved by the founding of the Medicine Rite. To set things in motion is a mission given to Hare.

"the third of the spirits" — this would be Bladder. The first three spirits (in many accounts, four) had failed in their mission. Only Hare had some measure of success. The story of this first effort is related in "The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker."

"the Island Weights" — the spirits the Earthmaker sent below to stabilize the primeval earth, which at that time was in constant motion. There were four, one each for every cardinal point. It is generally believed that the Island Weights are Waterspirits.

"Ancestor Host" — a member of the Medicine Rite who may lead the rite, thus playing host to the ancestors who are invited to witness the proceedings.


Links: Earthmaker, The Sons of Earthmaker, Trickster, Hare, Turtle, Bladder, Spirits, Island Weights.


Stories: mentioning Earthmaker: The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man, The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega), The Man Who Would Dream of Mą’ųna, The First Snakes, Tobacco Origin Myth, The Creation Council, The Gray Wolf Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Seven Maidens, The Descent of the Drum, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Spider's Eyes, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Fourth Universe, Šųgepaga, The Fatal House, The Twin Sisters, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth, Wolf Clan Origin Myth, The Masaxe War, The Two Children, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Gift of Shooting, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Stone Heart, The Wild Rose, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Lame Friend, How the Hills and Valleys were Formed, The Hočąk Migration Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The War among the Animals, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Blue Mounds, Lost Lake, The Hočągara Migrate South, The Spirit of Gambling, Turtle and the Giant, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Bird Origin Myth, Black and White Moons, Redhorn's Sons, Holy Song, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Death Enters the World, Man and His Three Dogs, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Story of the Thunder Names, The Origins of the Milky Way, Trickster and the Dancers, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Creation of Evil, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Song to Earthmaker, The Blessing of the Bow, The Origin of the Cliff Swallow; featuring Hare as a character: The Hare Cycle, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Necessity for Death, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Hare Kills Wildcat, The Messengers of Hare, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Hare Kills Flint, Hare Kills Sharp Elbow, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Grandmother Packs the Bear Meat, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads, Hare Visits the Blind Men, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane, Hare Burns His Buttocks, Hare Gets Swallowed, The Hill that Devoured Men and Animals, Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Grandmother's Gifts, Hare and the Grasshoppers, The Spirit of Gambling, The Red Man, Maize Origin Myth, Hare Steals the Fish, The Animal who would Eat Men, The Gift of Shooting, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite; featuring Trickster as a character: The Trickster Cycle, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster's Warpath, Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster Soils the Princess, Trickster, the Wolf, the Turtle, and the Meadow Lark, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The Abduction and Rescue of Trickster, The Elk's Skull, Trickster and the Plums, Trickster and the Mothers, The Markings on the Moon, The Spirit of Gambling, The Woman who Became an Ant, The Green Man, The Red Man, Trickster Takes Little Fox for a Ride, Trickster Loses His Meal, Trickster's Tail, A Mink Tricks Trickster, Trickster's Penis, Trickster Loses Most of His Penis, The Scenting Contest, The Bungling Host, Mink Soils the Princess, Trickster and the Children, Trickster and the Eagle, Trickster and the Geese, Trickster and the Dancers, Trickster and the Honey, Trickster's Adventures in the Ocean, The Pointing Man, Trickster's Buffalo Hunt, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Trickster Visits His Family, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, Waruǧápara, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge; featuring Turtle as a character: The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Turtle's Warparty, Turtle and the Giant, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, Turtle and the Merchant, Redhorn's Father, Redhorn's Sons, Turtle and the Witches, The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, Trickster Soils the Princess, Morning Star and His Friend, Grandfather's Two Families, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Kunu's Warpath, Redhorn Contests the Giants, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Skunk Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Creation of Man, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, The Father of the Twins Attempts to Flee, The Chief of the Heroka, The Spirit of Gambling, The Nannyberry Picker, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Markings on the Moon (v. 2), The Green Man, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Origins of the Milky Way; featuring Bladder (Wadexuga) as a character: Bladder and His Brothers, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth; mentioning Island Weights: The Creation of the World, The Island Weight Songs, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, East Shakes the Messenger, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, North Shakes His Gourd, Wolves and Humans, Šųgepaga, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Lost Blanket, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, South Seizes the Messenger, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Messengers of Hare, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Four Steps of the Cougar; about journeys to and from Spiritland: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, The Journey to Spiritland, Sunset Point, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lame Friend, Two Roads to Spiritland, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Holy One and His Brother, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Foolish Hunter, Waruǧápara, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, White Wolf, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, The Man who went to the Upper and Lower Worlds, Wears White Feather on His Head, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hočągara, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Man Whose Wife was Captured; pertaining to the Medicine Rite: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, Holy Song, Holy Song II, Maize Origin Myth, The Necessity for Death, Hog's Adventures, Great Walker's Warpath, see also Other Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite.

Stories from Jasper Blowsnake's account of the Medicine Rite (The Road of Life and Death) in notebook order: The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing, The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka, Historical Origins of the Medicine Rite, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge of the Medicine Rite, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), The Creation of the World (v. 12), The Creation of Man (v. 8), Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), East Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), Testing the Slave, South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 1), The Commandments of Earthmaker, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men (v. 2), East Shakes the Messenger, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (v. 4), The Messengers of Hare (v. 2), North Shakes His Gourd, Grandmother's Gifts, South Seizes the Messenger, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Messengers of Hare (v. 1), The Island Weight Songs, A Snake Song Origin Myth, The Completion Song Origin, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Great Walker and the Anishinaabe Witches, The Diving Contest, The Sweetened Drink Song, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 3), The Tap the Head Medicine, The Claw Shooter, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 4), Peace of Mind Regained, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 5), A Wife for Knowledge, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 2), The Descent of the Drum (v. 2), South Enters the Medicine Lodge (v. 1), Death Enters the World.

See also: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, and The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker.


Themes: someone is able to exert supernatural power upon an object by concentrating his mind upon it: Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, The Messengers of Hare, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Blessing of Kerexųsaka; a human being physically travels to Spiritland without having died: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Sunset Point, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Star Husband, White Wolf, Waruǧápara, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Shaggy Man, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Aračgéga's Blessings, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Boy who would be Immortal, Thunder Cloud Marries Again, Rainbow and the Stone Arch (v. 2), Trickster Concludes His Mission; visiting Earthmaker: The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, The Journey to Spiritland, The Lame Friend, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Lost Blanket, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Twins Get into Hot Water, Trickster Concludes His Mission, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins; four spirit beings help those who travel to Spiritland: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth, The Lame Friend, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman; a person (or spirit) aids someone in a task by concentrating his mind upon it: Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter; a mortal is returned to earth from the spirit village that he is visiting: Waruǧápara, The Thunderbird, Two Roads to Spiritland, The Shaggy Man, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, Snowshoe Strings, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, White Wolf, The Foolish Hunter, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds; spirits meet in a council: The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, Black and White Moons, Holy One and His Brother, The Creation Council, The Children of the Sun, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 5), The Gift of Shooting, East Shakes the Messenger, The Descent of the Drum, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, South Enters the Medicine Lodge, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Boy who would be Immortal.


Notes

1 Paul Radin, The Road of Life and Death: A Ritual Drama of the American Indians. Bollingen Series V (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1945]) 123-124.