SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWER: JEAN CHAUDHURI
Hunting and fishing, 1
Indian freedom, 1
Story of "The Boy Who Turned Into A Snake," 2-3
B: ...as we keep what we had in the past and we hold it sacred
to us. But when we start taking it for granted, and using
it for something that it wasn't meant to be used for, then
I think we should let it with the honored past, because it's
better to have honored memories of what went on a long time
ago than to still see these being violated, and still see our
customs. I mean, I'd rather remember it as something that
really meant something to us when we lived this way, and...
I mean I'm proud to be an Indian, you know, at least part
Indian. It's God's given gift.
C: According to hearing your elders talk, how free was the
Indian before white man came around? What sort of stories have
you heard as far as their fishing territories, hunting, and
things of this sort? How free were they?
B: You mean before the white man came?
C: Uh huh.
B: Well, they had a lot of freedom. They can go away and go
hunting and go where they wanted to. They never worried
about nobody bothering the Indians. They go ; they'd
C: The elders tell me that before they went on a hunt they always
prayed--not to kill more than they had to, not to cut down
any more trees than they had to, because they felt that the
tree was giving itself in order to give us warmth, and it
was giving us life. And also with animals they were going
to kill, they would offer prayers and ask just for enough to
feed the tribe. Can you tell me what you've heard?
B: I guess, as far as food...like I say, they killed sufficient
for the whole tribe or for the whole camp. When they live
in the camps, there's more than one family in the camps, so they
just get enough for the whole.
C: You were saying earlier about prayers, or something like this.
Can you comment on that again?
B: They used a medicine, a kind of sacred medicine, that's
what they used before they'd go out like on a hunting
trip or wherever they was going, from place to place, and
everything would be all right.
C: The Boy Who Turned Into A Snake.
Once, long ago, lived two young boys who were quite ad-
venturous. They would go swimming with the alligators, and
sometimes wrestle with them to show off their strength.
Often, they would race to see who could dive for more
garfish. After they found out who caught the most garfish,
they would throw them back into the swamp. Another favorite
pastime was to go gliding through the swamp in their dug-
out boats. These two adventurous characters were warned by
their uncle never to eat snake eggs, or else they may regret
the day they ever saw the eggs. As any good obedient young
men of the village, they listened to the wishes of their
One day they decided to explore new territory, and they
went a little farther than they had expected. Suddenly, it
started raining, and it rained so hard their buckskins became
very soggy, and they could not see their way home and they
became lost. It kept raining all morning and the afternoon,
and about evening time, when the sun was going home to sleep
in the west, the rain stopped. The poor boys realized they
had lost their way home. The rain had wasted away their foot-
prints, and the marked trees were no longer in sight.
The two friends looked at each other with bewilderment.
Neither spoke for awhile, and then one spoke: "Do you think
we will be able to find ourway back?"
The second boy said, "Of course. We have never been
actually lost yet. We have always managed to find our way
home, and this time it should not be any different."
The two passed the time away looking for sweet roots and
berries to nibble on. They climbed trees and played many
games. Night crept up on them, and the strange sounds she
brought along were so frightening. Even the crickets and the
frogs sounded different. They began to weary, but still yet
stubborn enough not to admit to each other they were afraid.
Both would sob, but not loud enough so the other could hear
The following day they came to the realization that it
was impossible to find their way home. Hunger began to play
its role. One of the friends said, "I am so hungry I would
eat anything that is edible."
The other friend said, "Yes. Anything at all, except
They both knew they were forbidden to eat them. A couple
of days slipped by, and nowhere could they find decent food
to eat. One of the boys said, "I see no wrong in eating these
eggs, especially when we are so hungry. I am sure nothing bad
will happen to us." Chibbon said, "We have been told by a
great uncle not to touch these eggs, much less eat them. No
matter how hungry we are we should not touch them. I am sure
we will find food."
They left the eggs alone and went to lie down and rest
for awhile. One of the boys fell asleep, and the other went
back to where the eggs were. He decided that it would do
no one any harm if he ate a couple of the eggs. After all,
he was so hungry, and they did taste delicious, he thought.
"I didn't realize they would taste that good." He waited
awhile before taking the second one to see if any changes
would take place. Nothing. The second egg, he ate.
After this treat, he thought he would lie down and rest.
He felt a little uncomfortable. He had a strange sensation
as though his legs were sticking together. He looked down at
his legs, and, to his bewilderment, both of his legs had merged
into one, looking more and more like the tail of a snake.
Unbelievingly, he looked at his stomach. It was scaly, cold
and slimy like a belly of a snake. He shrieked, "Chibbon, come
quick. I'm turning into a snake."
His friend came running, wanting to know what was happening.
When he came upon his friend, he was speechless with fright.
"My goodness," he murmured, "you've eaten the forbidden eggs,
and now you're being punished."
At about this time the body of the boy was all snake, ex-
cept for his head, and he pleaded with his friend to run quickly
to the village and tell his mother and uncle that he had gone
to the home of the snakes and remained there for the rest of
his life. By some strange magical power, Chibbon finally
found his way back to the village. Crying and hollering
and running through the village, he kept looking for his
friends, mother and uncle. When he found them, he blurted
out the incredible story.
As fast as lightning, the mother, uncle, and Chibbon made
their way into the area where the other boy was. The mother
went running to the unfortunate boy. She lifted his head
onto her lap and weeped. The boy had barely enough time to
tell his mother goodbye, and he told her if she wanted to visit
him, for her to come to the edge of the river and call his name
and he will come out of the river, and she will know by the
sounding of the rattlers. With their tears, they bid farewell
to one another.