Tag Archive: Choctaw people

Jun 25

Stories from My Grandfather – The Origin of Poison

WHAT’S PLAYING: Brule “We the People”

A long time ago, when the world was new, a certain vine grew in the shallow waters of the bayou where the Choctaw people went to bathe or swim. This vine was very poisonous, and whenever someone touched this vine, he or she would get very sick and die.


Now, this vine liked the Choctaw people, and didn’t want to cause them so much pain and sorrow. But, since it grew beneath the surface of the bayou, it could not show itself to them. So, it decided to give away its poison. It called all of the chiefs of the small people of the swamps—the wasps, bees and snakes, and offered them its poison.

The small chiefs held a council about the and, since they were defenseless and often stepped on by others, agreed to share the vine’s poison.

Bee spoke first. “I will take a small part of your poison, which I will only use to defend my hive. I will warn people before I sting them, and it will kill me to use my poison, so I will do so very carefully.”


Wasp spoke next. “I will take a small part of your poison, also,” he said. “Then I will be able to protect my nest. But, I will warn people by buzzing close to them, and I will keep my poison in my tail.”

Water Moccasin spoke. “I will take some of your poison, but will use it only if people step on me. I will keep it my mouth so that when I bare my fangs, people will see how white my mouth is and know to stay away from me.”


Rattlesnake spoke last. “I will take all that is left of your poison, and will also hold it in my mouth. And before I strike someone, I will use my tail to warn them. Intesha. Intesha. That is the sound I will make to let people know that they are too close.”

And so it was done. The vine gave up its poison to the bees, wasps, water moccasins and rattlesnakes. Where once that vine had poison, now it has small flowers.

From then on, only those who were foolish and did not listen to the warnings of the small ones, who took the vine’s poisons, were hurt. Now, the shallow waters of the bayous are safe for the Choctaw people.


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