The Valley of Needles contains, at its parched and arid heart, the Great Needle, a pillar of stone so sheer and so smooth that only its broken top clarifies it as a natural wonder rather than a manmade one.

Around the Valley are the ancestral lands of the Oscoda, who have long regarded the area as sacred. Their repeated pleas for outsiders to leave the Needles be, whether made politely or by force of arms, have routinely been ignored by later settlers.

One reason the Oscoda insist that the Valley must be as undisturbed as possible is a part of their creation story. They hold that the Great Needle is a link to Toscodai, their creator-god. At the making of the world, it was prophecied to fall three times. Once at the dawn of all things, when the clay was not yet sunbaked and hardened. Once at the noon of all things, when the people in their hubris thought themselves equals of Toscadai and were cast down for their impertinence.

The last time will bring about the end of the world. As the Oscoda say, awdegnonowukil okizd awgi onagnis enemap; “When the Needle falls a third time, the world will most likely come to be destroyed.”

Settlers once attempted to force the Oscoda into an unequal treaty by aiming cannon at the Great Needle. When the settles saw that the ancestral people of that place were unbowed, they fired—only to see the cannonballs bounce harmlessly off the hardened rock. This event is routinely celebrated by the surviving Oscoda as Aketewpol Ukist, or “Bouncing Day.”

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