According to the Blackfoot, a Creator known simply as Old Man caused the earth’s creation. It is said that he formed the earth as he strolled from the south, moving northward.
Not satisfied with the empty spaces, he created and painted things along his walk. He formed the mountains; both tall and small. Some say they were created as he lay stretched across them earth at rest.
Old Man jumped up and down to create valleys, which he then painted green. Loving the brown and green colors blended together, he added trees and forests, forming brown trunks from the earth and green tops that matched the green grass of his prairies. Because he liked red, he painted some of the earth that color so it wouldn’t always be brown.
With the land now formed, Old Man turned his attention to the creation of food for the animals he planned to create. He chose root plants and berries to begin with, including carrots and turnips, strawberries, blueberries and more. He even added fruits to some of his trees, forming apples, apricots, peaches and pears to name a few.
That done, he was finally ready to create animals. He began with the sheep; those with and without horns. He placed them in the prairie where he believed they would flourish. While the smaller sheep grazed happily, the bighorn sheep complained that did not like the prairie. In response Old Man tossed him by the horns among the rocks of the hills. Bighorn liked it there and decided to stay.
As a companion for the bighorn sheep, Old Man created antelope. But the new creations liked to run and the rocks and crags of the hills broke his stride. So the Creator took him down to the prairies where he could run like the wind.
One by one, Old Man created the animals that would inhabit his world. He was happy with his creations but he was still not satisfied that the earth was complete. So he decided to create something new from the clay of the earth.
He formed a creature with curves. It was petite, with large breasts and wide hips. He decided to call it woman. Then using a piece of her, he formed a child that would be her son. Once finished, he demanded that they both rise up and walk. They obeyed as directed.
The creatures, which Old Man named “people” were naked and unable to do things for themselves. So, like a parent, he introduced them to the berries and roots that he had planted. He also pointed to the herds of animals that had formed over time. “These you can use for food and clothing. The skins will keep you warm. The meat with sustain you.”
Old Man took the people to view his new world. He showed them the mountains, hills, forests and prairies. He pointed out plants they could use for healing sickness. He also helped them develop weapons for protection against ferocious animals and so they could capture food.
He took bark and flattened it out to form a bow. Then he used hair from certain animals to make string for the bow. He used wood to form the arrow and plucked feathers from birds to finish the shaft. Finally, he chose flint rocks off the ground, which he formed into arrowheads. He tied them to the end of the arrows.
Old Man also taught his people how to make fire by rolling hard wood between their hands. He advised them to use it to cook the animals they hunted. Their favorite was the buffalo, for the Creator taught them how to use every part of the animal. They even used the animal hides to form shelters.
Finally finished, Old Man moved on northward but told his people that he would speak to them in their dreams. He cautioned that they should always follow the instructions he gave them, which might come in animal form. If they did as they were told, he promised to always be there for them. Some believe he remains faithful to that promise to this very day.
Mythology of the American Nations by David M. Jones and Brian L. Molyneaux; Hermes House 2004