Native American Legends
A Rattlesnake kills the Chief's Daughter
A Wintu Legend
Long ago some women gathered, put a blanket on the ground, and
lay down. They made their leaders, the chief's daughter, lie in
the middle. And they sang songs.
The chief's daughter was a good singer and many people gathered
to see her. Some wanted to abduct her, but could not get close to
her because she was the chief's daughter and everyone kept an eye
She was rich because her father was rich. The people who wanted
to abduct her were not from the area; they had come from somewhere
else. They watched her, but there was no way of taking her because
many people kept a close eye on her.
The women lay down and sang. Chief Tisasa's daughter was a good
singer with a beautiful strong voice. This is not a tale, but a
story about real Indians. Tisasa was a real Indian chief who was
my father's grandfather. The woman was Tisasa's daughter.
The Indians thought very highly of Tisasa and he had many sons
who were good people. He helped everybody, and when he hired people
to do things, he always paid them well. The women lay down and sang
many songs. At midnight they all left. But the others were still
watching. They watched those who were watching the chief's daughter.
Tisasa was a real chief. His family's home was called Kensunus,
When the chief's daughter went to pick clover, all the women followed
the "little chief" and picked clover too. She was bitten
by a rattlesnake, and they took her some. She died before many days
had passed. The rattlesnake had killed her.
Her mother, the chief's wife, grieved the loss of her daughter.
She made many sticks, packed them, and went out. She went west to
a snake den called Snake Rock. There she dug for rattlesnakes and
killed those she saw coming out, with a long green stick. She also
had a short stick with her.
She killed off all the rattlesnakes that came out and strung them
on a trimmed sharp stick. She strung them and tied them up. She
dug up their rocky nest. She killed many rattlesnakes that were
in the den. She killed forty rattlesnakes and strung them up on
the stick. When she could not find any more, she leveled the den.
She wiped them out. Their dens stink terribly, but the woman who
had lost her daughter did not give up looking for rattlesnakes everywhere.
When she found some, she killed them and strung them up. She went
everywhere looking for rattlesnakes and did not give up. For five
years she did not forget to kill rattlesnakes. There were no more
rattlesnakes close by, for she had killed them all. She had lost
her daughter and did not want to stop. Their home was Kensunus.
They buried their daughter in an elk hide with all her belongings.
She took many good beads, clamshell beads, and things with her.
They gathered everything, wrapped her in elk hide and buried her.
She took much with her. That was because they were never going to
see their daughter again.
But the mother grieved so that for thirty days after her daughter's
death she did not want to stay at home. She went all over the mountains,
steep hills, and rock piles, looking for rattlesnakes. When she
saw a rattlesnake, she killed it. She did not kill any of the other
snakes, water snakes or bull snakes. When she saw king snakes, she
did not kill them. She only killed rattlesnakes. And then after
some five years she stopped. She did not hunt rattlesnakes any more.
She stopped hunting rattlesnakes.
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