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A Snake Song Origin Myth

A Winnebago (Hotcâk) Legend

This story is told during the Medicine Rite by the spirit-impersonator of the north.

"Ancestors, we send forth our greetings to you. I possess a Snake Song, one that has come down to me and one that I could use, so they told me, whenever I wished to give a life-engendering greeting. This song was obtained from a large yellow snake by a person who had been blessed under the fork of a tree where there was a crow's nest. With a large portion of life was he blessed, with herbs and grasses, beneficent grasses, those that would restore health to a man. Yet, nevertheless, some of them, it is said could cause a person to become weak. All these plants were to bring prestige and honor to the possessor.

Now, in the beginning, people associated with these plants just as if they possessed life like ourselves. They were worshipped and honored. Not today do we do so. Yet these herbs and grasses are still being used and are still efficacious.

This Snake Song I shall now sing. Ancestors, we greet you, we greet you!"

[The Snake Song was omitted in the source.]

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