When the Earth was new, Anishinaaba (Original Man) was created and placed on Ashkaakamigokwe (Mother Earth). Anishinaaba stood naked and cold, slumped over, head hung down, his face hidden under his long tangled black hair.
This first human being was an arrogant and brash fellow who, because he was the first human, thought himself better than all.
Yet, he did not know how to walk, crawl or jump.
"How is it that someone as superior as I cannot walk, crawl of jump," thought Anishinaaba.
Angrily, Anishinaaba lurched forward, lifting his leg high and bringing his foot down harshly on the ground. The jarring blow of his step was cushioned by the soft green hair of Ashkaakamigokwe.
Surprised by the gentle touch of the grass, Anishinaaba swept the hair from his face and looked around him, and he was startled and overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded him.
What he saw was sacred - mitigoog, zibiwan miinawaa agamiin, ozaagakiig, miinawaa manijooshag (the trees, rivers and lakes, the plant-beings, and the insects).
Closing his eyes, Anishinaaba heard a calm, soft drum beat wavering upon the wind. Anishinaaba then gently lifted the same foot and took a second step softly.
Keeping his eyes closed, he repeated his two steps with his other foot - one/two left foot, one/two right foot, back and forth from right foot to left foot, again and again, in rhythm with the drum beat upon the breeze.
And it was that on the first day of his creation, the first human being, who knew not how to walk, crawl or jump, danced in rhythm to the heartbeat of Ashkaakamigokwe.
Anishinaaba's two steps became the the traditional dance steps that have been passed down through hundreds of generations to present-day Anishinaabe dancers.
Note - This is based on a traditional story I was told many moons ago at a campfire at a powwow.
© All Rights Reserved, Robert DesJarlait, 2017
Original text and illustration from Niimiwin: An Ojibway Dance Coloring Book, Northern Winds Press, 1995