Odzihozo, The Transformer

Located about half a mile from Shelburne Point in Lake Champlain is a rock that is known to the government as “Rock Dunder“.  To the Western Abenaki, and to many of the non-native Vermonters, the rock is Odzihozo.  That rock is holy ground.

With apologies to the People of the Dawn Land, I will attempt to synopsize the story of He Shapes Himself to those of European descent:

When the Creator (Tabaldak, “Owner of the Land”) dreamt the world and all of the creatures it contains, He made His land smooth so that His children could easily move from place to place.  If you travel far enough to the north or west, you will still see smooth land like that today.

However, there was one Being that the Creator did not dream.  At first, a few grains of sand moved together, then a few more.  Then there was a finger, but it could not see, so the finger shaped an eye.  The eye and finger could not hear, or move, or smell, or taste, so together they shaped more fingers, and an arm, and a nose, and ears, and a mouth.

Now the Being could drag Himself about.  He could see things in the distance and was curious about them.  At first, He had only one arm and His head, but He quickly fashioned a second arm so that He could pull Himself along more easily.  All over the land He pulled Himself, His hands and torso pushing up mountains and carving channels for the rivers.

After a long time, He realized that He could no longer see as far as He used to.  There were many mountains in the way.  The smooth land was now rough and broken.  He looked down at His torso, which had grown long in his travels.  He realized that if He could stand up out of the ground, He would be able to see again.  Pulling Himself to the edge of the smooth lands, the Transformer began to shape legs for Himself.  Back and forth He rocked, trying to shape legs with his hands, pushing up the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains in the process.

Finally, for the first time, He had legs and feet.  He stood up from the ground and water ran from the mountains and rivers into the place where He had lain.  The waters are called Bitawbagok (“Lake In-Between”) by the People of the Dawn Land.  Standing some one hundred miles tall, He was quickly noticed by the Creator, who noticed what the Being had done to the smooth land.

“Who are you,” demanded the Creator, “I did not create you!”

“I created myself,” answered the Being (who since then has been known as Odzihozo, “He Shapes Himself”).

It is said that Odzihozo then challenged the Creator to determine who was the strongest, and wisest, and so on.  As the Transformer competed with the Creator, He left more scars upon the land, but Odzihozo could not best Tabaldak in any contest.  From this He learned humility and to take note of the other peoples in the world.  Odzihozo could see how his actions were making life difficult for the creatures of Tabaldak’s dream.

In the end, Odzihozo returned to the lake He had made.  He noticed how the shores of Bitawbagok were fertile and lush and green.  He saw how winter frosts came later and spring came earlier to the surrounding valley.  He saw that it was good.  This was His artwork and He resolved to protect it.  No more would He flail about the world, destroying as He created.

So Odzihozo reached down into the lake and formed a place to stand where He could see  as much of His handiwork as possible.  Then, willing Himself smaller and smaller, Odzihozo stood upon that place and changed Himself into a rock.  From that place, the Transformer watches the world and safeguards the lands He shaped.  To this day, those who travel Bitawbagok are wise to thank Him for his craftsmanship and to offer Him gifts that He might safeguard their journey across the waters.