Native American Tales

The Girl Who Married Rattlesnake

The Girl Who Married RattlesnakeThe Girl Who Married Rattlesnake

Pomo

A girl was out getting clover, but she was being watched by a rattlesnake. The girl went home and the rattlesnake followed. He changed into the form of a man. He told the girl that he wanted to marry her. He remained at the house overnight. For four days the snake came back as a man, but on the fifth day he was his snake self. No one even realized he was talking when he talked as usual.

The following morning, rattlesnake took the girl home with him. The girl eventually had four boys. They would coil to strike when they saw people, but their mother told them that they must not bite their relatives. The children asked their mother why she did not talk like their father. She told them that she was not a rattlesnake and that she was a human. The boys were curious about the differences and crawled all over their mother.

She knew it was impossible for her to become truly human again and decided that she would go back and speak to her parents one last time. She did, but they didn’t speak to her until right before she left. The girl shook and she was gone. No one knows where she went, but they think she returned to the rattlesnake’s house and lived the rest of her days.

Observations

You can’t marry a rattlesnake, obviously, nor can you cross-breed with one. The chromosomes just don’t match up. It’s not like tigers and lions, who can breed. The natives were close to animals and had all these stories about how animals and people mingled back in the day.

Themes

This woman leaves her people and takes a husband from another type of people, let’s just say people, even though he’s a snake. He was able to turn into a man after all. After a time, she assimilated to the new people. She became more like them than the people she started out with. This happens. We can take on traditions and practices of another people if we live with them long enough. In fact, at some point, you may not even feel you can claim the heritage of your birth people. This is what happened with this woman. I don’t know why she felt she had to say goodbye to her parents forever. We can still talk to people, even if we’re not like them, but maybe she felt her new differences were too insurmountable.

It can be very odd to be so different from the people you once knew and were once a part of. We can change in some aspects of our lives. It’s also true that sometimes we hang out with certain people just because we share some of the same practices and traditions, not because we actually have an interest in that person, although I’m sure there’s some interest, it’s not enough to keep a tie if one of you no longer keeps those same practices and traditions.

I would have thought being family was enough of an interest to keep in touch, even if you live like a snake, but maybe not.

Overall

Move over interfaith marriage and make way for inter-species marriage; it’s the relationship people are going to complain about now.

Totally a joke, sort of. You know good and well that people like to complain about relationships that they don’t get.

Weigh In

Should the girl have said goodbye to her parents?

Why was she allowed to marry a rattlesnake in the first place?

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