Long ago, the ancestors slept in the before, an ocean with no beginning and no end. But they grew restless in their endless sleep, so they woke in the now, an empty plain spreading out in all directions as far as the eye could see. And Old Man and Old Woman looked over the now and found it bereft of interest. So they took to wandering together. And Old Woman felt mischief stir within her, and scooped the ground with her hands to make a hill that Old Man tripped over. And where he fell a great valley formed as the mountains sprang around him. Unwilling to let Old Woman win at their game, Old Man dug so deep he reached the before, and water came splashing out to wet Old Woman. And where it spread, rivers and lakes came to be. So the ancestors played, shaping the land with their games until they grew weary and sought new amusements.
They then called the animals to awaken from the before, and each heard their words and obeyed: the rams, bison, rabbits, deer, eagle, crow, wolf, bear, fish, snake, sparrow, bee, mountain cat, and on and on until all the animals milled about at their feet. But the animals soon grew hungry, and there was nothing for them to eat. So Old Man and Old Woman decided to enter the will be and flew into the air until they disappeared. But before they left, they told the animals not to harm one another. But the animals grew hungrier still, and soon wolf took a nibble of bison. And the mountain cat bit ram, and snake ate rabbit, and so on until Old Man and Old Woman returned. When they did, the animals who had been bitten cried out for justice after having obeyed Old Man and Old Woman’s command. But Old Man and Old Woman just laughed at them for following what was clearly foolish instruction. And so Old Man and Old Woman set all the animals clever enough to feed themselves above those who refused, scattering seeds upon the ground to grow plants so that the duller beasts would not starve.
The land of the now remained very cold though, so Old Man and Old Woman again departed for the will be to seek their answers. But before they left, they told the animals not to mate while they were gone. And many of the animals obeyed Old Man and Old Woman, but many others did not, including crow, wolf, bear, bison, snake, mountain cat, eagle, and ram, who each had many offspring. And when Old Man and Old Woman returned, they praised those with the foresight to disobey their bad instruction and rewarded them by transforming them into men and women, though their offspring remained as beasts. These new men and women they made into ancestors like them, and together they all made the seasons that the land might never grow too cold nor too hot every again.
And the ancestors took husbands and wives, and their children grew in number until they realized they would soon grow too numerous for the lands of the now. So Old Man and Old Woman returned to the will be for an answer. But before they left, they told the ancestors to love one another.
As soon as they departed, some of the ancestors thought to themselves “we have been rewarded each other time we have disobeyed.” Thus, they turned upon their kin, killing them and eating their flesh until the others fled for fear of becoming their dinner. And when Old Man and Old Woman returned, they found these ancestors with their bellies full and their faces stained red. Yet these stained ancestors called out to Old Man and Old Woman, saying “where is our reward?”
“How can we reward monsters?” Old Man and Old Woman replied. “Before you ignored bad instructions, but turning against your own kin is clearly a sin no one should have to explain.”
So they punished the sinners by stripping away their stained skin but leaving their spirits intact. And these sinners’ bestial natures were revealed and shown for all to see so that they might avoid these monsters. Fearing these beasts might hunt the rest of the ancestors, Old Man and Old Woman lashed them to the lands where they committed their crimes, warning all the ancestors to never approach these cursed places by setting stones around their lairs.
Exhausted from their ordeal, Old Man and Old Woman fell back asleep and sunk down through the now into the before. But before the departed, they told the ancestors they would return again to lead them on into the will be.
And that is why we wait until this day.