At one time the whole world was covered with water.
It was everywhere, no matter where one looked.
The water did not stop a man carrying
Flat Pipe, his companion and counselor, from walking across the
waters for four days and nights. The man wanted to treat his pipe
in the best way, so he gave much thought to this subject. He thought
for six days and finally decided that in order to provide a good
home for Flat Pipe there should be land and the good company of
So on the seventh day the man set
out to find land among all the water, calling to the four directions
as he went. From the four directions came many animal helpers, and
with their help man found a land home. He put the Four Old Men in
each of the four directions to control the winds. Now, the land
would also provide a place for a Sun Dance of ceremony and thanksgiving
A garter snake came to the man, and
the man said "Oh, you will be a great comfort to the people
and have a great place in the Sun Dance as the Sacred Wheel to represent
the waters that surround this earth."
He then looked again to all around
him for help and many offered.
Long Stick, a bush with flexible
limbs and dark bark, came and said "I offer myself for the
wheel for the good of all." All approved so Long Stick was
made into the ring of the Sacred Wheel, representing the circle
that is the Sun.
The eagle soared by and said "My
strength is great enough to carry me above the earth and water as
I fly on the winds of the four directions. Please take my feathers
to represent the Four Old Men."
The man was pleased, and told all
that four bunches of eagle feathers would forever be tied to the
wheel to honor the desire of the eagle and anyone who would ever
offer an eagle feather as a gift.
Once the man shaped the Sacred Wheel
he painted it in the image of garter snake and placed the feathers
in the position of the Four Old Men - northwest, northeast, southeast
and southwest - who rule the directions and control the winds and
to represent the Thunderbird who brings the rain. To further enhance
the wheel, the man added groups of stars, painting special images
of the Sun, the Moon and the Milky Way. Blue beads tied on represented
When finished, the man thanked garter
snake for serving his people in this way with the creation of the
wheel that symbolizes all creation.