Native American Legends
The Eagle and the Snake
An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown
In the beginning, the Great Creator formed Mother Earth in the
heavens and was pleased. Mother Earth was a beautiful sight. The
Great Creator decided to add living creatures to take care of Her.
The creatures were all beautiful in the Great Creators mind, but
he decided to give two of them greater power and knowledge in order
to help protect the great Mother Earth. The Great Creator chose
the eagle and the snake to bestow this great honor upon. The eagle
was the master of the skies and the snake was so close to Mother
Earth that the Great Creator felt it would make the perfect protector
on the ground.
The majority of eagles and snakes got along very well initially.
They communicated freely with each other and all of the other creatures
were in awe of them. However, there was one snake named "White
Eye" that seemed to have more power than all of the other snakes.
White Eye was not friendly to his brother the eagle. White Eye was
very jealous that the Great Creator enabled the eagle to be such
a beautiful creature and have the ability to fly free through the
skies. White Eye thought "I am jusssssst assssss powerful assssss
the eagle, yet I am ugly and musssssst crawl along the ground like
a lower form of life. Ssssssomeday, I will take Mother Earth completely
away from the eagle and be the complete ruler of all creaturessssss.
Of thissssss I PROMISSSSSSE!"
As time passed, the greatest eagle of all, named "Redman"
became aware that he possessed superior powers that all other eagles
were unaware of. He was also aware that White Eye was a powerful
trouble maker and that certain discoveries of powers from the Great
Creator must never fall into the possession of that evil snake.
Redman discovered an art called "shape shifting".
He discovered that he could, after deep, silent prayer and soft
chanting, actually change his physical body into an all together
different form. As Redman began to experiment with his newly discovered
power, he discovered that he could assume the shape of an upright
being with two legs and two arms. As Redman looked into Chilhowie
lake one day, he discovered that his two-legged form was actually
a beautiful shape with a reddish hue to the skin covering. The two-legged
form also looked very impressive with two arms with hands and fingers
and toes on the feet attached to the two legs. Redman was very happy.
As he began to experiment with his new form, he was impressed to
see that he would be able to do many things that could be very helpful
in taking loving care of Mother Earth.
Redman met with eight of the most trusted eagles to discuss the
new power. The eight eagles were named "Sioux", "Cherokee",
"Cheyenne", "Apache", "Chippewa",
"Iroquois" and "Seminole". These eight eagles
together began to experiment with the new form that Redman had discovered
and they agreed that there was much that could be done for mother
earth with this new form. The eight then returned to their respective
eagle families and met secretly with the wisest male and female
eagles to discuss their plan. The plan was simple enough. These
chosen eagles would select the best male and female eagles to shape
shift to the new form and from their different locations upon Mother
Earth, they would reproduce in the new form and be even better able
to take care of Her and all of Her creatures.
One day when Redman was walking through the woods, he came across
White Eye. Needless to say, White Eye was stunned. "SSSSSSSoooooo
Redman ... what issssss thissssss?" Redman was immediately
fearful of White Eye's evil powers and was momentarily speechless.
"SSSSSSSooooo Redman! I ssssssaid ... what issssss thissssss?"
"Oh, hello White Eye", said Redman. "This is a new
form that I have discovered and I believe that this form may enable
me to better serve the Great Creator in protecting Mother Earth."
"I sssssssee." said White Eye. "Won't you be ssssssso
kind assssss to sssssshow me how to do that, sssssso that I may
alsssssso help protect our dear Mother Earth?"
Redman thought quickly and said "Well White Eye, right now
I am simply experimenting with the form. If it ends up being as
good as I think it may be, I'll talk to all of the creatures to
discuss it. I have to go now. Farewell White Eye."
Now White Eye was furious! He must know how to assume that beautiful
form! White Eye returned home and gathered together the most evil
snakes that he could find to discuss this new situation. The other
snakes were amazed! They all agreed to a secret pact that would
enable them to search hard and secretly to discover how Redman had
been able to assume this beautiful new form!
Low and behold, the snakes began seeing these new upright creatures
all around their areas of Mother Earth, and the eagles seemed to
be multiplying rapidly in the new form. White Eye was absolutely
furious! He called a meeting of the evil snakes and they decided
to kill one of the new upright eagles with the two-legged shape.
One day White Eye and his evil friends saw a lone upright eagle
and they approached him in a seemingly friendly manner, complimenting
his new form. As the snakes questions became more aggressive, the
eagle decided to run. However, it was too late. The snakes attacked.
As the eagle was dying, in his weakened condition, White Eye summoned
his greatest, most focussed power, which was the ability to telepathically
impart knowledge and ideas from other creatures. If the eagle were
healthy, he would have been able to escape, or mentally try to block
White Eyes mind reading. Unfortunately, the poor eagle was very
weak from the attack of the evil snakes and White Eye successfully
gained the process of shape shifting.
White Eye let out an enormous, evil, blood curdling laugh. That
was the final sound the dying eagle heard in his physical life on
Mother Earth. White Eye was laughing hysterically! The other snakes
gathered around. "What issssss it White Eye? What issssss sssssso
funny?" Suddenly White Eye's beady little snake eyes narrowed
and he became very nasty looking. "Now I know how to transsssssform;
my ugly body into the beautiful new form!" said White Eye.
White Eye ordered the other evil snakes to leave him alone for awhile,
and he promised that he would rejoin them as soon as he had tried
the new shape shifting idea that he had taken from the poor dying
eagle. The other snakes left as White Eye had requested.
Now White Eye became very quiet and began to really focus on the
energy of the universe. After a few moments, he felt a very unusual
tingling and began to softly chant the words that the dying eagle
had known to utter in order to successfully shape shift to the upright,
two-legged form. "Hey - Ya...Hey-Ya...Hey - Ya...Hey Ya."
White Eye knew the exact cadence and inflections for the chant.
After a few more minutes, White Eye felt an enormous rushing of
energy entering his ugly snake body. White Eye suddenly screamed
out in pain, as the energy rush was beyond description. White Eye
passed out of consciousness. When he felt himself awakening, he
felt very different and strange. As his eyes began to regain their
sight, White Eye saw something that he could not believe! He had
arms and hands and legs and feet! Just like Redman! He was ecstatic!
The only difference was that his skin covering was a white color.
Redman's had been slightly reddish. White Eye was actually glad
that he was a different color than the eagle! He thought, "This
will make it easy for us snakes to know what upright creatures are
snakes and what upright creatures are the loathsome eagles!"
White Eye found that at first, it was hard to make the new form
work. He practiced for awhile and then could not wait to show his
evil friends! He ran through the woods to the place where he was
to meet them. The other snakes at first were frightened, but then
excited! "Issssss that really you, White Eye?" "Yes
it is." Said White Eye without any trace of the hissing that
always had been part of his language. He immediately showed the
other evil snakes how to shape shift, and they began to try it.
They too were white, but very happy!
The evil snakes spent time practicing shape shifting and did many
different things in order to master the new shape shifting idea
that White Eye had discovered. None of the snakes had any tell tale
sign of the evil hissing that accompanied their language when in
the upright form. However, when they shape shifted back to their
original snake form, the hissing would return. The snakes made a
pact to act friendly at first to the upright eagles in order to
make them believe that they were their friends. But White Eye had
vowed long ago that the snakes would take everything away from the
eagles and this vow would never be forgotten! Then the upright snakes
would have control of Mother Earth and all of her creatures.
As the snakes began to experiment with their new form, they discovered
that they could take things from mother earth that would help them
become even more powerful. The evil snakes began to get very greedy
and no longer even remembered, let alone did they act like that
they were actually supposed to protect Mother Earth. No, now the
snakes thought only of themselves and their greedy plan to take
over Mother Earth from the beautiful upright eagles.
In the beginning, the upright snakes were congregated in the east,
where their meeting had taken place, and where they had originally
killed the upright eagle. In their self-serving greed, they forgot
all about their family's and simply stayed where they were to reproduce
and learn more about their new upright form. The upright snakes
began to discover how to make deadly weapons from the gifts of Mother
Earth. They began to kill other creatures simply for a strange,
sick enjoyment that they began to feel in their new, powerful, upright
form. The other creatures became very frightened of the upright
snakes, and that fear continues even today.
Meanwhile, the upright eagles continued their peaceful, loving
care for Mother Earth. Some of the eagles made some unwise choices
as to who would be the appropriate selections for the shape shifting
plan and some of the shape shifted eagles also became overly aggressive
in their new form. Redman was very upset about these aggressive
eagles, but it was beyond his control. He did however banish them
from the circle of good eagles until such time that they would exist
peacefully with their fellow eagles.
The Great Creator soon became concerned about the problems that
were occurring on Mother Earth as a result of the shape shifting.
He sent word with his most trusted raven for Redman and White Eye
to meet him on Mt. LeConte, the next Sunday morning at sunrise.
When sunrise came on Mt. LeConte that Sunday morning, only Redman
had come to meet with the Great Creator. The Great Creator expressed
to Redman disappointment. The Great Creator explained to Redman
that he should have discussed his new plan with him first. He still
loved Redman and he made that clear. He went on to explain to Redman
that he would eliminate the ability to shape shift from all creatures
except for Redman himself. The Great Creator went on to explain
to Redman that from then on, only the highest medicine eagles could
be taught about shape shifting, and they were to understand that
they were not then to teach it to anyone else!
The Great Creator passed over Mother Earth and did as he said he
would. He eliminated the shape shifting ability of all creatures,
except Redman. At first White Eye was very angry. He new that he
had defied the Great Creator by not attending the meeting at Mt.
LeConte, but in his greed, he did not care. White Eye knew that
enough snakes had already shape shifted and were reproducing rapidly
enough, so that his great plan to take Mother Earth from the eagles
would still be possible.
As time passed, the upright snakes and eagles lost even the memory
that they had originally been different creatures. The upright snakes
became known simply as "white eyes". The upright eagles
became simply known as "red men". Only Redman himself
retained the knowledge of how all of this had come to pass. Even
the evil White Eye soon forgot about how he had become upright.
However, White Eye did still have the intense, burning desire to
control Mother Earth. In his mind, as well as all of the other white
eye creatures, the hatred of the redskin creatures continued, and
their collective greed could not be denied. They took, and took,
and took from Mother Earth.
As more time passed, the white eyes multiplied and soon needed
additional space to greedily take the resources from Mother Earth
that they had grown to need. The white eyes began to move westward,
where they encountered more red men. The red men tried to help the
white eyes understand that Mother Earth should be loved and taken
care of. At first, the white eyes pretended to befriend the red
men. The white eyes were really not interested in what the red men
said. They really just wanted to steal from them and take their
land. The white eyes lied to the red men and even began killing
White Eye had become a great military leader with the white eyes
and was determined to take all of Mother Earth from the red men.
He was willing to kill as many of them as was necessary in order
to keep his promise of long ago. There came a great, greedy hostility
that even brought death to the women and children of the red men.
The white eyes lied, cheated and stole their beloved lands from
As more time passed and these treacheries grew more outrageous,
great war erupted. The white eyes far outnumbered the red men, and
even though the red men were fierce, tenacious fighters, the odds
were simply impossible. Finally, the white eyes and their evil leader
White Eye had militarily conquered the red men. However, they could
never conquer their spirit.
The red men were treated in a terrible fashion. They were forced
to live in communities against their will, far from their beloved
homelands. Their rights were completely stripped away from them.
They were humiliated and disgraced by the white eyes. Through all
of this, Redman became very bitter. He was saddened that he had
brought all of this to pass. He vowed to reclaim Mother Earth from
the white eyes.
Redman struggled to try to develop a plan to reclaim Mother Earth
for the rest of his life in the physical world. Redman banished
himself in self-imposed shame. He retreated to a remote, but beautiful
area known as Gregory's Bald near Cades Cove in the Great Smoky
Mountains of eastern Tennessee.
It was early spring when Redman arrived at Gregory's Bald and the
area was alive with beautiful creatures and beautiful wild flowers
were everywhere. Redman loved this spot and the beauty of it helped
ease his pain. Each and every spring Gregory's Bald virtually comes
to life and is absolutely covered with the most splendid display
of wild azaleas imaginable. The sight was so magnificent that it
always seemed to renew Redman's spirit. However, his thoughts of
what had happened as a result of white eyes greed could never escape
his tormented mind. Redman continuously searched his soul about
how to regain his beloved red mans homelands.
However, the real opportunities seemed to diminish more and more
as time passed by and Redman grew older and older. Finally, Redman's
time in the physical world was drawing to an end. He spoke daily
with the Great Creator through ceremonies, chants and words. The
Great Creator was sympathetic to Redman's plight, but could do very
little for him.
Redman fell into a deep sleep one beautiful spring morning. In
his sleep, the Great Creator appeared to him. The Great Creator
told Redman that his time in the physical world was ending. The
Great Creator told Redman that he would allow him certain abilities
to interact with the physical world on a limited basis, once he
passed into the spirit world. The Great Creator told Redman that
he would be allowed to maintain his spirit world existence in very
close parallel to the physical world and that he would be able to
see what was happening in the physical world. This way, if and when
Redman saw an opportunity to influence earthly events in his limited
capacity, then he was to feel free to do so. In this way, the Great
Creator had allowed Redman an opportunity to guide his peoples destiny
if the right opportunity presented itself. Redman was extremely
grateful and was filled with great hope for the future of the red
Time in the spirit world is completely unlike time in the physical
world. There are no human emotions to confuse or distort reality,
and time is immaterial. Redman was finally able to exist in peace
and happiness. He knew that someday, somehow the opportunity would
present itself for the red men to return to a peaceful, harmonious
time when they could once again provide the dear Mother Earth with
the loving care that once had been possible. He knew that he would
be ready and when the right time did come, the red men would have
the Great Creator to thank for their opportunity to reclaim their
beloved Mother Earth. This we know is true, for the legend says
that it is so.
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