Wherein we learn of the legend of Skywoman and her twin boys, Spruce and Flint, and how that was just the beginning …
How The Tewakenonhnè Came To Be
The Haudenosaunee Territories
As recounted by Tiyanoga to the people
October 21st, 1203 - 3:12 PM
"I speak to you now, the words and the voice of the people. Words that speak of our coming, our creation, and our enduring peace. These are the words of our fathers, our mothers, given to us since time immemorial. Hear now of the sacred warriors, the Tewakenonhnè, and learn what they tell us …"
All Haudenosaunee children grow up with the creation stories.
They are the fabric of who we are as a people. They learn from an early age about the fall of Skywoman and how she started life here on Turtle Island, of her epic struggle to find a place to land, of seeding the plants and creating the beginnings of animal life that would populate the this new world.
After a time, she gave birth to twins. The first, a virile strapping boy she named Spruce, bringer of all good things in life. A constant of the universe maintains that a balance must exist. So, where Spruce possessed a robust body and a healthy glow; his twin, Flint, could only be described as sinewy and pallid in color, even at birth. One brother a bringer of light, love, empathy and compassion. The other of darkness, malfeasance, calculated evil and deception.
Their differences did not end with their out-worldly appearances. As with all things in life, each responds and interacts with it according to their own gifts.
From an early age, Spruce felt enthralled with every aspect of life. His keen and sharp mind, coupled with his compassion and deeply profound respect for all the possibilities life afforded him, became the wellspring of his creations. He demonstrated from childbirth his ability to imbue wondrous things on the island, expanding upon the flora and fauna he freely gave of himself to the world around him.
Flint however, his brother’s opposite in every way one could be, would spend his days finding his brother’s wondrous creations, and pervert them into beings of a darker purpose. He took on a fiendish delight in bending his brother's creations to his conniving will. Thus, the common garden snake would, under Flint’s maligned hand, grow fangs and poison others with its toxic venom.
The boys moved about in a world immersed in brotherly affection and competition. It would be that latter trait, however, that would come to shake the world to its core.
As their bodies grew in stature, their conflicts escalated proportionately. Smaller skirmishes between the siblings eventually grew to outright warfare. Ultimately, Spruce found he could no longer bear to ignore the malfeasance that seemed to pour from his brother's very soul. Enraged and saddened by his brother’s relentless assault on life, Spruce decided to put an end to it.
Thus the brothers engaged and a great battle ensued. A cataclysmic tussle that lasted for a very long time – whether one or one thousand years passed – no one knew the exact passage of time involved as no one was there to mark its passing. What is known, is that the twins, in their epic conflict, created the mountainscapes, deep canyons and gorges as they flung their titanic bodies across Turtle Island, slamming each other into the fertile soil, hardening soft mounds of earth with brilliant gazes that could melt the ground into sharp peaks, reaching heights that this world had never know before.
When the world seemed that it could no longer bear more of their anger, Spruce finally gained the upper hand and, in his victory, banished Flint to the shadows of life where darkness dwelled and bitterness and anger could make a home in him. Flint's heart grew black, chiefly at his brother.
Though the battle ended, their war was far from over.
From those infernal depths, in the darkened recesses of his banished realm, Flint swore that he would not be gone forever. He retreated into the darkness to lick wounds and bide his time. For time, that uncontrollable but progressive companion, he knew was ever in his favor. His brother would soon grow weary of watching for him. Flint felt all but assured that he would work his way back. Patience and planning was all that he required now.
Slowly, over the millennia, he crept back into everyday life. Slithering through the cracks he created, testing his brother's resolve to keep him at bay. Whenever threatened by Spruce, Flint and his horde of perverted creatures would retreat back to their shadows to fight another day.
Then a curious thing happened: for reasons no one could fathom, Spruce decided that his works were complete and confident that his brother was no longer a threat in this world, he became resolved to take his leave, to simply walk away. His gaze had turned skyward – he sought life beyond this world. His sole final imprint on this land was that he created the people of Turtle Island and installed them as its custodians, or balance-keepers, of life. It would be to them that the world would be cared for and treasured. They would become the check and balance against Flint and his minions should they rise.
For a time, it appeared to work, because in the beginning there was a balance, albeit with the occasional skirmish between both sides. But patience was Flint’s greatest weapon. He could wait several millennia if that is what it took to achieve his ultimate goal. So Flint prodded the people. He poked at their defenses. Never so much as to do them great harm, but to test their strategic maneuvers and resolve.
Over time Flint became more crafty in his offensive tactics, eventually doing great damage to the people. Whispers in men’s ears and in their hearts became common place. Meanwhile Flint’s work continued. Setting them against one another to the brink of oblivion. In this, Flint's plan began to establish his evil intent. Fear, mistrust and deceit would he plant in men's hearts.
It appeared to work.
It became apparent to the people that they were losing too many of their kind to keep Flint in his place. The Onondaga faithkeeper, in desperation, appealed to Spruce and begged for his assistance, explaining that the people were losing the battle and that all would be lost if he did not intercede on their behalf.
For a while it appeared that his plea fell on deaf ears. For decade after decade, with further losses amongst the people, maddeningly Spruce remained silent on the matter. The people that remained, left to guard the planet stood strong in their resolution to oppose Flint, they just did not possess the means necessary to even the playing field, say nothing of actually winning the war.
Under Flint's influence, the people began to fight amongst themselves on the right way to defeat him. Flint saw this as an opportunity and played into this – pooling malcontentedness where he could, caring for festering feelings and enmity toward their brothers and sisters.
On the eve of a particularly cold and bitter winter night, in the midst of a great battle amongst the people, warring amongst themselves, tearing at each other to the brink of desolation, their prayer, long since forgotten, was finally answered.
Spruce returned one last time.
He returned to us not in the form we remembered, but as another great man: Dekanawida – known to us as the great Peacemaker.
He came to a man, a Mohawk man – Aiionwatha – who sat grieving near a lake over the butchering of his entire family during a recent battle. The Peacemaker consoled the man in his all-consuming desolation. Tears that seemed to have no end found peace as he spoke to the man. Though not because of his words, but of the calming peace that emanated from every part of him.
Resolved that the warring amongst the people had to end, the Peacemaker implored Aiionwatha to help him bring the people together. Using the analogy of a bundle of arrows, he explained that they would get the warring peoples to understand that a single arrow could easily be broken, but combined and of like purpose, they were nearly unbreakable.
The Peacemaker was no great orator. In point of fact he stuttered to the point of shaking bodily just trying to convey a single thought. But what he did possess was that calming and abiding peace that poured from his very soul. It was hard work to bring the people together, but under Aiionwatha's impassioned tongue, and the Peacemaker's influence, the people began to respond and see the way to the Great Law of Peace, uniting the five nations – Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca – to a common goal and purpose. Like those bundle of arrows, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy became strong.
But Spruce/Dekanawida had a higher purpose in mind.
In their slumber, as he visited each nation, Dekanawida moved amongst them, gifting the people with the ability to engage his brother and his twisted beasts. This gift, however, would come in the form of preternatural powers that would manifest themselves in unique and powerful ways. Not every man – and later, woman – could answer its call.
At first, Spruce chose warriors that he observed showed the most promise; who were sound of heart and character and ultimately would not abuse the powerful sacred knowledge given to them by the Creator through the Peacemaker.
So the Tewakenonhnè or Guardians, as they came to be known, trained under Spruce's tutelage in this way. As a warrior moved into his declining years – provided he had survived that long for the work was often lonely, grueling and for the most part, hidden from Haudenosaunee life – it would be up to the aging warrior to choose an able bodied young man culled from the village into the Guardianship and pass on the knowledge.
Sensing the people had taken up the cause for themselves, Spruce decided to take his final leave from us. He gave us every tool we would need to succeed. The rest, he instructed, was up to us.
As he left, he approached the faithkeeper of the Onondaga nation, and gave him a special wampum belt. Not of the white an indigo beads we crafted of our own, this belt, silver and shimmering like the ripples of a lake, is the most powerful and sacred of them all.
Gifted with this final tool to assist him in managing the Guardianship, he became the Guardian's first Central. He alone would bear the responsibility of the Guardian's care, welfare and their training. He was not their master insomuch as their caretaker, their counselor, and their elder voice when need arose in the Grand Council for the Guardians to be heard.
"This is the way of the people, this is how the Tewakenonhnè came to be."