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Battle with the Snakes

Glynn ManyironsMohawk Story

There was a man, his name was: Dijisdaah. who was not kind to animals. One day when he was out hunting, he found a Rattle Snake and he decided to torture it. He held its head to the ground and pinned it with his spear. When the snake could not move, the man tormented it. ” we shall fight” he said and he burned it here and there until the snake was dead. He figured that it was great fun. and from then on whenever he found a snake, he would do the same thing.

One day another man from his village was walking in the forest, when he heard a strange sound. It was louder than the wind hissing in the Pine trees. He crept closer to see, and there in the the great clearing were many snakes, all gathered for a War Council. As the man listened in fright he heard them say:” We shall now fight with them, Dijisdaah challenged us so we will go to war in four days. We will go to their village and fight them.”

The man then crept away, and he ran as fast as he could to his village to tell what he had heard and seen. The Chief of the village sent other men to see if the report was true. After they saw the snakes,a report was made of what the snakes were saying, and the men were very frightened, and worried “Ahhh…”they said,”it is true, the snakes are gathering for war.”

The Chief then saw that he had no choice. ” We must fight” he said and ordered the people of the village to get ready for war. He ordered them to cut down mountains of trees and pile them in two rows around the village, then they drove two rows of stakes in the ground also. When the fourth day came, the Chief ordered the people to set the rows of wood on fire. Just as the Chief ordered the fire they heard a great noise. Like a great wind in the trees. It was the noise of the snakes, hissing as they came to the village, ready for war.

Most of the time snakes won’t go near the fire, but these snakes were determined to have their revenge, and straight into the flames they went. Many of them died. Those alive crawled over the dead ones and continued to move forward, until they reached the row of stakes.

Once again the Chief ordered the second row of wood fired. The snakes crawled right into the flames, hissing their war songs, the living ones crawled over the dead ones. It was a terrifying sight. Live ones reached the second row of stakes and some of them died on the stakes, but the others carried on.

The people of the village fought as much as they could, but it was no use as the snakes were just too many. More snakes then the fallen leaves on the ground at the coming of the Winter. The village people just could not stop them. Soon the snakes forced their way over the last row of stakes and the people of the village were fighting for their lives.

The first one to get killed was Dijisdaah, the one who had challenged the snakes to a war. It was now clear that the people of the village could not win the war. The Chief shouted to the snakes: “Hear me my friends, we surrender to you, we have done you great wrong, have mercy on us.”

The snakes stopped where they were and there was a great silence. Exhausted Warriors looked at the great army of snakes which stared at them.

The earth moved and cracked in front of the Warriors. A great snake, taller than the tallest pine tree, whose head was larger than a great longhouse, lifted himself out of the hole in the ground.

“Hear me” he said ” I am the Chief of the snakes, we will go and live with you in peace, if you will agree to two things”.

The Chief of the people looked at the Great Snake and nodded his head:” We will agree, Great Chief” he said.

“It is well” said the Chief of the snakes. ” Hear now the two conditions:

First you must always treat my people with respect.

Secondly, as long as the world stands, you will never name another man Dijisdaah.”

And so it was agreed and so it is today.

 

 

I work with Muskwa International Foundation Inc. which is an entity that was formed to assist the street children in the Philippines, mostly in Manila and Davao, the two largest cities in the Philippines.  You can find out about their projects here Street Children and Natural Disasters.

The stories I tell here I learned from the Elders and Story tellers and I am passing them on with their blessings. These stories can be anything from 4,000 to 5,000 years old.

 

 

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