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The Graveyard Serpent and Corn Giant


Chapter 40
Page 154

Seneca tradition states that they formerly lived on the Chippewa River, near Niagara Falls, Canada. One year, while thus located, they were visited by a calamitous sickness, and their corn was blighted. Their prophet dreamt, one night, that a great serpent laid tinder the Tillage, with his head to the graveyard, and that it devoured all the bodies buried. This gave a most offensive breath, which was the cause of the sickness.

He also dreamt that there was a great giant under the cornfield, who ate up the corn.

When he revealed these dreams to the chiefs, they determined to abandon the town, and immediately removed to Buffalo Creek. The serpent soon followed them, and entered the mouth of the creek; but the Great Spirit, whose especial favorites they ever were, sent lightning to destroy it. The monster, however, proceeded up the stream, until the arrows from above fell so thick, that he was obliged to turn. His great size made him press against the shores, and break off the ground, and this is the cause of the expanse of the river three miles above its mouth. Before he reached the mouth of the stream, however, the arrows had cut him apart and thus they escaped this scourge.

When they went back to visit their old town on the Chippewa River, they found the giant who had eaten up the corn, hanging by one leg from the crotch of a high lodge pole, with his body on the ground. He was very meager, and had very long and thin legs, with scarcely any flesh on them. [W. I. C. Hosmer.]

The Graveyard Serpent and Corn Giant
Page 155

[If the above is to be regarded, as it clearly must, as an allegory of sickness and famine, it would have put Greek fancy to the task, to have concentrated the matter in a smaller compass, or to have exhibited it in a more striking light.]

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Iroquois General Ethnology - Table of Contents
Iroquois General Ethnology of Western New York


Notes About the Book:

Source: Notes on the Iroquois or, Contributions to the Statistics, Aboriginal History, Antiquities and General Ethnology of Western New York, By Henry R. Schoolcraft, 1846, Senate Document, Twenty-Four.

Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and then ocr'd. Minimal editing has been done, and readers can and should expect some errors in the textual output.

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

 

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