Rattlesnake Tales

TitleRattlesnake Tales
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHamell, GR, Fox, WA
JournalOntario Archaeology

Archaeological evidence from the Northeast and from selected Mississippian sites is presented and combined with ethnographic, historic and linguistic data to investigate the symbolic significance of the rattlesnake to northeastern Native groups. The authors argue that the rattlesnake is, chief and foremost, the pre-eminent shaman with a (gourd) medicine rattle attached to his tail. A strong and pervasive association of serpents, including rattlesnakes, with lightning and rainfall is argued to have resulted in a drought-related ceremonial expression among Ontario Iroquoians from circa A.D. 1200 -1450.