top of page

New Myth for a New Earth

This new telling of the ancient flood/creation story of the Anishinabek features the two principle characters from the original myth: Muskrat (Wazhashk) and Nanabozhoo -- the great cultural hero. Nanabozhoo is rendered here in his persona as the Great Hare - hence his large rabbit ears! In the original myth, the world is flooded by the Great Spirit who has become disillusioned with The People who have gone astray. Nanabozhoo and Muskrat are afloat on a log when suddenly Muskrat dives into the depths to retrieve some earth from the bottom. I le succeeds in bringing back a small amount of dirt from which he and Nanabozhoo are able to re-create the world anew.

In the "new" or modern telling, the flood waters on which these two are adrift is the man-made flood of chemicals that are suffocating and destroying the environment. This is represented by the dark and turbulent waters as well as the dead, barren landscape to the right of Nanabozhoo. Using the various cultural tools available to him, along with the modern sciences, Nanabozhoo once again re-creates the world and holds this "New Earth" above him. We can see the restoration of health and goodness by way of the green of the land and clean blue waters. The modern sciences are represented through the inclusion of both the birch tree and the water flea (Daphnia). Can you find Daphnia?! Each of these organisms function as the "canary in the coal mine," as the quality of their health provides us with important clues about the health of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The canoe, in this modern telling, represents the cultural retrieval that Nanabozhoo undertakes in his quest, fashioning it from the birch log on which he and Muskrat are floating. Thus, we can see how the lines of the birch tree morph into the canoe where Nanabozhoo is seated, hoisting the New Earth aloft into the sunlight.

Mark Nadjiwan - the Artist and the Art

The subject matter and style of artist Mark Nadjiwan are predominantly inspired byh is First Nation heritage I Ie is a self-taught artist who works primarily in pen and ink I Iis unique style is a fusion of the Woodland and Northwest Coast Native art traditions. In his work, one can often see the Woodland's characteristic x-ray and wavy line motifs interwoven with the clean formlines and geometry that often typify Northwest Coast art. Mark's First Nation roots are grounded in the Lake Superior and Georgian Bay regions. I le continues to live in the traditional territories of the Anishinabek Nation with his artist wife, Patricia Gray. Mark's work can be found in galleries and venues across Canada as well as private collections in both Canada and the United States.

This image is also available in other art product formats. Please see your retailer or visit

New Myth for a New Earth by Mark Nadjiwan

    bottom of page