S is for Soothsaying Spirits & Slip-upping Snake-Siblings – A to Z Blog Challenge

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Beating the Odds…Lucky Folktales Around the World to Brighten Your Day. Each post highlights that the stars aligned and what would have normally been…bad…turned out after all. Considering what we – as humankind – have experienced the past year, how nice is it to remember that all of us can “beat the odds” to some level in our lives.

And we’ll admit now…some are actually myths, legends, or epics rather than only limited to folktales. So is that a type of “loading the dice”? Ah, but the stories were too wonderful to pass by.


From Sioux

The Sioux and the Ojibwe tribes do not always get along. Some people don’t like to use the word “Sioux” as the Ojibwe used that name as a way to call the “Sioux” to be “little snakes.” The original word was “Nadowessioux.” Fur traders shortened the word to “Sioux.” Yet, it’s a name that continues to this day.

What makes spirits dangerous? What makes snakes dangerous?

When spirits talk and tell you to do something, it is already dangerous to not follow directions. In this story, the ones who did not listen are transformed. A spirit could possess you and suddenly there could be two spirits depending on what is forced to be done when possessed. As for snakes, this story features rattlesnakes that actually give you warning because they already know they are dangerous. Whether it’s the bite, venom, or both…stay back when you hear that rattle. So if you don’t listen and respond? Be warned. Huh. Both the spirits and the snakes are best managed when listened to the first time. Interesting.

50-words-or-less summary:

Four brothers kill buffalo. Spirits says to lay skin/skull/hooves in certain way. Only youngest obeys. Other brothers transform into snakes. Snake-siblings live in hole and promise to protect brother and tribe. Youngest after horses and asks for snake medicine. Snake-siblings provide. Youngest then faster and more confidence. Success! Continues today.

That youngest brother was smart to listen to the Spirit (thereby lucky) and take that buffalo skin to the hill and lay out the parts as requested. Though, those other three brothers were lucky to be alive and right their wrongs by protecting the tribe as snakes. Only after learning this story did I find it fascinating on the meaning of “Sioux” and how these snake brothers can be respected despite their initial disobedience.

Finding the Story:

When Lame Deer told it in 1969 – https://www.angelfire.com/ca/Indian/SnakeBrothers.html

When published in book and transcribed/edited by Richard Erdoes in 1976 from Lame Deer – “The Snake Brothers” within The Sound of Flutes and other Indian Legends – also found here online to order: https://www.amazon.com/Sound-flutes-other-Indian-legends/dp/0394831810

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings with virtual as well as proper-distanced/masked/outdoors.

We are excited for the monthly All Things Story virtual workshop series as well as the hybrid Story Crossroads Festival on May 10-13, 2021 (then viewing beyond the event to June 15, 2021). Interested in deeper articles and e-workbooks plus stories, activities, and recipes? Then pursue Story Crossroads Memberships.

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