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ACT OUT - Story Telling and Improvisation by TchiHawae

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njoying the world of storytelling and then discovering wonderful ways in which students can
give life to their own enactments is the gem offered to parents and teachers in our five segment series by Butterfly Deer Woman, Clan Mother of the Mockingbird Clan and leader of many ceremonial circles.

Butterfly Deer Woman will share with you stories that are wonderfully heartfelt and then guide you through a series of improvisational scores that can be downloaded and enjoyed by students
at home, in schools and at community centers.

Our story is a time for listening and contemplation. On the following page are instructions for playfulness and discovery through improvisation. Wishing you fun on the journey ahead.

The Creation of Turtle Island

As Told by the Ancient Ones of Turtle Island

Hello. Let me introduce myself. I am known as TchiHawae. I am also called Butterfly Deer Woman, a
name easier to remember.

I am in part a storyteller. The Old Ones often speak to me and share their stories that I may, in turn, share
them with you. One day, perhaps, you will share one of them with your own child.

Anyone can make up a story and it can be whatever it is you would like it to be, for there is no limit to
imagination. And sometimes what we think is not real at all is, on some level, very real.

Now, for the story of "How Turtle Island Came Into Being" as told to me by the Old Ones.

Long ago, there was no land, only water and sky. Our good Earth Mother lay deep under the vast waters which covered her. These waters, like an ocean, were inhabited by many colorful and often strange looking creatures of many sizes, shapes,
forms and colors. Some came from the eel clan, some from the lobster, starfish, sea horse, urchin, sponge, sting ray, whale, turtle clans and more. So many more.

These waters were so clean that they were crystal clear. You could see way down to the ocean's floor. So abundant was the vegetation there that no creature ever went hungry. Grandfather Sun showered his nurturing light by day upon these waters and by night, thousands upon thousand of starbeings winked and blinked in the water's reflection. The phosphorescent lights
in these waters winked back and Grandmother Moon smiled warmly at her own reflection as she traversed the night sky.

High above and reflected in this sea was the largest, brightest and most beautiful star in the Universe. And in this star there lived a lovely and very curious little Star Princess. We'll call her Nova.

Nova spent many fine hours staring down at her reflection in the rippling waters below. And behind her, in this reflection,
was the whole universe around her. She had been often warned by Grandmother Morning Star not to lean over too far. "Star people are of fire," she sparked, "we do not swim. If you fall you will drown in those waters."

Others had warned her too. Nova sighed, "I guess I can never go there. I can only look down and wave at the creatures below." And wave she did. Often.

The creatures below waved back at her. They had become fond of the little princess. They would show off for her, preen
and swim, glide and flip to impress her.
And so life went on.

One day, while the little princess was admiring her body in the reflection below she reached out just a little too far. Perhaps
a lot too far! Uh Oh!
She was falling through the ethers toward the waters below.

"Oo Oo!" said the creatures, watching her fall. "Oo Oo!" They had to do something quickly to save her. They knew that
if she fell in the waters she would drown. Quickly they came together in council on the ocean's floor, so that crab, lobster, clam, sponge and others who lived there could attend.

Old Man Turtle, who had been sleeping, was awakened by the ruckus of fin flappin' and tails whippin'. All around him creatures gathered, talked and thought, clawed and fished to fin.

Nova kept falling. She was getting closer. Time was running out. They needed a solution!

Reluctantly and slowly, Old Man Turtle, wiping the sleep from his eyes, stretched his head out of his shell and in a low and somewhat weary voice said, "I can save the Princess, that is, if I can reach the top of the waters in time. She can rest on my back and I can carry her until there is another solution."

Time was of the essence, so the council of fish, mammals and crustaceans alike, swam upwards pushing Old Man Turtle along as fast as they could. This swimming caused large waves in the water making it difficult to position Turtle near the falling Princess. Back and forth they swam, pushing Old Man Turtle here, then there. And then with a "splish" and a "sploosh," Nova fell into the waters and was quickly scooped up into the arms of Brother Octopus, who placed her astraddle on the back of Old Man Turtle.

The Creatures of the Sea were so happy and excited that they jumped and bobbed about, applauding and splashing, creating other large waves, almost turning Old Man Turtle and Nova upside down. Holding on tightly Nova greeted and thanked her friends. They gathered about her, brought her delicate fruits, greens of seaweed and kelp from the great ocean floor, and shells with which to decorate her hair.

Time went on as time will, and the little princess grew heavier and Old Man Turtle grew wearier. His back began to ache more and more under the weight of the princess. He started to bob and sink. "Not as young as I used to be," he sighed. "Ho there FinLess One," he called to his friend Eel. "I can no longer hold this princess on my back, she is getting too heavy for the likes of me. Help me!" he coughed, "Get help!" He gulped down a mouthful of water. Nova spoke up with concern, "I will stop eating old friend. I would not wish harm to come to you. I would sooner drown than cause you further pain."

This matter was very urgent. Once again the many creatures of the sea gathered in council. Whale and Shark stayed behind
to help their old friend Turtle stay afloat.

It was Dolphin who first had the idea. Horseshoe Crab seconded it. All agreed it might work. They would dig, and dig they did! They would dig that sand and stone from the ocean's floor right on up above the water creating a beach, a hill, a mountain, an island, even a continent! Something large enough upon which Princess Nova could live and play.

Word of the little Princess and of Old Man Turtle's plight traveled quickly through the four directions of the watery kingdom. Soon all the creatures everywhere were digging and scooping. Even the good Earth Mother helped by opening up her belly to spew forth some of her hot lava rock. Land was rising above the waters in the many directions, far more land than Nova needed. None to soon, Old Man Turtle was able to stand at last on the sands at the water's edge and Princess Nova was able to slide off his back to safety. "Wow," she said looking about her, "this is beautiful."

Indeed so. When the creatures dug up the sand from the bottom of the sea, they also dug up rocks, coral reefs, seaweed, pearls, brightly colored shiny shells and some fossilized bone of the many ancestors and more.

Everyone celebrated. To honor Old Man Turtle whose endurance and love had kept the little Star Nation Princess alive, they molded part of the earth into his likeness and connected it to a portion of the land and called that land Turtle Island.

Soon, some of the vegetation that had grown under the waters began to grow above the ground, pointing their little faces toward the Sun. And creatures once happy to be in water now wanted to move up onto the beautiful land. Some like eel remained legless, others grew legs. Some even learned to fly.

And so it was that Turtle Island was created. You can find it easily by looking at a map. It is now called the United States. And if you look at the State of Florida, you will see the likeness of Old Man Turtle's head and neck extending out into the sea, reminding us how it was, once upon a time.

Improv by Tchi Hawae


Click on our star to begin your

ACT OUT" improvisation project

© TchiHawae 2001 All rights reserved


The word peace means resolution, the end to all problems. If only the word peace would exist in the 21st century then my prayers will be answered.

Erin Adams

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The Creation Of Turtle Island, copywritten by TchiHawae, is soon to be published in her book of stories and improvisation. For information eMail: tchihawae@dwij.org