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Stories & Facts

How First Mother Saved the Penobscot

(Part 3 of Penobscot creation story)
Klouskap and the Origin of the Penobscot

as told by
Jason Keith Brown, Rabbit Clan

In a calmly powerful voice, First Mother began to speak.

"Husband," she said, "listen to me, as I am the mother of all Penobscot and can't bear the sadness of watching my children perish. You, along with a small group of men, will take my life, then take my body to an open field. There you will drag my body around the field until all of my flesh is worn off and I am nothing but bones. Next you will have to bury my bones in the center of the field, leave for seven days and nights, and then return."

Shocked and saddened, First Father cried in protest. "I know in my heart what you tell me must be done but it's also my heart that tells me I can't! I will need some time to think about this. I will need to talk to Klouscap."

At that, First Father set out for Klouscap's lodge where he was hoping to find an answer that he knew he wouldn't receive.

"First Mother has the power to save her children," said Klouscap to First Father. "You must listen to her every word, as hard as it is, and do what she wishes."

It was with a sadness that we can only imagine that First Father and a small group of men ended the life of First Mother. They carried out her wishes exactly as directed, dragging her body around the field and then burying her bones in the center. With secret prayers and ancient songs, they blessed the area and left.

It seemed to be the longest seven days and nights that First Father could ever remember, but finally the time had come. With sad anxiety, First Father and the small group of men returned to the now sacred site. What they saw was the salvation of the Penobscot, a miracle that couldn't be believed....

....where First Mother's flesh laid warm on the Earth, plants of corn, squash, beans, and potatoes now grew. Enough to feed all her children and with the sacred seeds of each plant, no Penobscot would ever go hungry again. Where her bones were placed in the womb of Mother Earth, the sacred tobacco plant now grew. With this plant, her Penobscot children could send their prayers on clouds of smoke to Creator.

A great gathering took place in honor of First Mother. People sang and danced and lived in her beauty. Only through her death did the rest of the Penobscots survive. This is why until this very day we should always regard our mothers with love, loyalty, and most important, respect.