In the Creation Stories of both the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Peoples, the Earth was created on the back of a Giant Sea Turtle. It was there that life began to grow. It is said that Turtle Clan members are the keepers of the land, and gifted communicators and providers of information.
The responsibility of the Turtle Clan is to protect the environment, the land, its resources, and the quality of the air and the water for the benefit of the Generations to come.
The Onayotekaono (Oneida) name for the Turtle clan is A'no:wál, that of the Onondowahgah (Seneca) Hadiniǎ‘'děñ‘, that of the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) A'nó:wara, and the Ska-Ruh-Reh (Tuscarora) name for the Turtle clan is Ráˀkwihs.
The Anishinaabeg have three Turtle clans: Mishiikenh, Mikinaak, and Miskwaadesi. Mishiikenh represents the Medicine Clans of both Ojibweg and Bodéwadmik; Mikinaak and Miskwaadesi are exclusively Ojibwe clans.
To the Peoples of the Anishinaabeg, Mishiikenh, the mud turtle, respectively Mikinaak, the snapping turtle, are two related aadizoogaanag (spirit grandfathers) who were appointed as the chief bearers of good dreams and ideals from the spirit world, and who taught the Anishinaabeg healing and communication. Along with Miskwaadesi, the painted turtle, they are part of the great Wawaazisii or Bullhead doodem division, a group consisting of clans primarily charged with Teaching and Healing.
Turtle teaches the People healing and communication with the Mystery World. Although physically the slowest of all creatures, he/she symbolizes swiftness of the mind and is regarded as a master of communication (of thought).
Having served mankind by offering his back as a refuge to the supernatural creator Giizhigookwe (Sky Woman), and by lending his shell for the re-creation of Anishinaabe Aki (the world), the turtle, as a token of appreciation, was endowed with unique powers, enabling him to interchange his physical and incorporeal qualities, and travel backward and forward in time.
For this reason the jaasakiidjig, the Midewiwin specialists often referred to as Shaking Tent Seers, and who claim to draw their spiritual healing power from the Thunder Beings, elected the turtle as their patron. Turtle stands for communication and for possessing a quick and agile mind, and Turtle Clan members make it their priority in life to emulate his communal talents and his aptitude of social interaction; some fulfill their tasks in life as healers and thinkers.