Native American Legends
The Hunter and the Uksu'hi
A Cherokee Legend
A man living down in Georgia came to visit some relatives at Hickory-log.
He was a great hunter, and after resting in the house a day or two
got ready to go into the mountains.
His friends warned him not to go toward the north, as in that direction,
near a certain large uprooted tree, there lived a dangerous monster
uksu'hi snake. It kept constant watch, and whenever it could spring
upon an unwary hunter it would coil about him and crush out his
life in its folds and then drag the dead body down the mountain
side into a deep hole in Hiwassee.
He listened quietly to the warning, but all they said only made
him the more anxious to see such a monster, so, without saying anything
of his intention, he left the settlement and took his way directly
up the mountain toward the north. Soon he came to the fallen tree
and climbed upon the trunk, and there, sure enough, on the other
side was the great uksu'hi stretched out in the grass, with its
head raised, but looking the other way.
It was about so large [making a circle of a foot in diameter with
his hands]. The frightened hunter got down again at once and started
to run; but the snake had heard the noise and turned quickly and
was after him. Up the ridge the hunter ran, the snake close behind
him, then down the other side toward the river. With all his running
the uksu'hi gained rapidly, and just as he reached the low ground
it caught up with him and wrapped around him, pinning one arm down
by his side, but leaving the other free.
Now it gave him a terrible squeeze that almost broke his ribs,
and then began to drag him along toward the water. With his free
hand the hunter clutched at the bushes as they passed, but the snake
turned its head and blew its sickening breath into his face until
he had to let go his hold. Again and again this happened, and all
the time they were getting nearer to a deep hole in the river, when,
almost at the last moment, a lucky thought came into the hunter's
He was sweating all over from his hard run across the mountain,
and suddenly remembered to have heard that snakes can not bear the
smell of perspiration. Putting his free hand into his bosom he worked
it around under his armpit until it was covered with perspiration.
Then withdrawing it he grasped at a bush until the snake turned
its head, when he quickly slapped his sweaty hand on its nose.
The uksu'hi cave one gasp almost as if it had been wounded, loosened
its coil, and glided swiftly away through the bushes, leaving the
hunter, bruised but not disabled, to make his way home to Hickory-log.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends