Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Two Headed Snake

Indian tradition invest Bare Hil with great interest. According to the myth cherised by the Senecas, their tribe sprang out of the ground at Nundawao. the site of their oldest village, on the high hill near Canadaigua Lake. At a certain period the tribe was threatened with destruction by a mighty snake with two head, which wrapped its folds around Bare Hill, Genundewah, encircling the last that remained of their race. As the story is told in Schoolcraft's Notes, drawn from a native source, "all were devvoured but a warrior and his sister. At length the warrior had a dream, in which he was showed that if he would fledge his arrows with the hair of his sister, the charm would prevail. He was warned not to heed the frightful heads and hissing tongues, but to shoot at the heart.

Following faithfully the directions given in his dream, he bodly shot the serpent's heart. The instantaneous recoil of the monster proved the wound was mortal. He rolled down the hill uttering horrid noies, and plunged into the Lake. here he slaked his thirst, and tried by water to mitigate his agony dashing about in great fury. At length he vomited up all the people he had eaten, expired, and sank to the bottom. The council fire was thereafter fixed at Kanadesaga. The timber was destroyed on the top and sides of the hill by the great snake, and as the tradition goes, the heads of the vanquished Indians, changed to stone, thickly strewed over the earth in that vicinity, accounted for the large number of concretions found on the surface and in slaty formations of that locality. The story of the snake is thought to be an allegory, signifying that intestine feuds produced hatered and murderous war, by which the nation wa s nearly exterminated. At length, by the affectionate interposition of woman, harmony was restore and a new era of prosperity, introduced by removing the council fire to a new place. The Seneca caled themselves Nundawao, or Nundawagas- People of the Hill. Both sides of the Lakeafford abundant evidence taht its shores were long a favorite abode and burial place of aboriginal tribes. Their arrowheads and implements and bnes of the dead are thickly strwed in the soil. The traces of an ancient fort, covering about an acre, and surrounded by a ditch, and formerly by a formidable wall, are still to be seen on top of Bare Hill. They indicate defenses raised by Indian hands, or more probably belong to the labors of a race that preceded the Indian occupation. The wall is now about tumbled down, the stones seem somewhat scattered, and the ground is overgrown with brush. The hill was literally bare when the white race took possession of the country. but since that time the forest has sprung up thickly wherever it was allowed to grow. Arnold potter, it is said raised wheat there by simply dragging it in, before he could make clearing elsewhere.

From Cleveland's History of Yates County

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