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Men who undertake to know the power of the snake must first recognize that it is a godlike being.

The white man madeand still makeswar on snakes. The Native American reverenced

the snake and would no more kill it without reason than kill a man without reason



The Horned Snake


Horned Snake, My Sister!

Horned Snake, My Brother!


Take me to your snake towns,

Give me your magic cane!


Show me the way to your sacred cave!


Horned Snake, make me the hunter

my grandfather was

with his name Yabi Odja!

                      Yabi Odja!

With his string of turtles

                       tied to his back

                       held together

with hickory bark: Yabo Odja,

my grandfather, the hunter!


Source: Gerald Hauman's Meditations with Animals: Native American Bestiary (1986)

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Meditation on Yabi Odga

A Native American spokesperson once went on the record as saying that the snake people had made war on the white man because he had made war on them first. The snake that lives in the water with the head of a stag is not a "bad snake," but a powerful one. The difference here is between power and evil, power and good. Good and evil, according to the Navajo, are mixtures of quality; they may be used for either purpose in the name of power. People may wield power well, or with ill in mind. Or with well and ill purpose joined in a figure of power who clearly works for the well-being of all.

Thus the nature of good and bad are mixed. In one hand may reside good, in the other, bad. And yet the whole being, the man, may be good or bad or both as the situation demand. The unification of dualities is the word power. Power shares, does not isolate, does not belong to only one. Made of many, it may be held or withheld by man. One man may have more of it than another.

The snake in many tribes is a figure of duality joined. The Creek's Horned Snake possessed power to draw a deer to the river, transfix it with a stare, and drown it. Afterwards, it ate only the deer's nose. Hunters of the Creek nation used horn of the Horn Snake for hunting. The horns which looked like red sealing wax were broken into pieces and shared by many men on the hunt. The Alabama Indians called the horned Snake Tcinto sakto, Crawfish Snake.

The Creeks also knew the Celestial Snake which had a head, no body, lived on dew, and could spin into the air like a whirlwind. This snake combined the elements and powers of nature: good, evil, sacred, fearful. In the same way, the Horned Snake unified the hunter with the hunted: in its head, the emblem of the stag, that which is sought by the Indian hunter. Its snakelike nature offering the ability to hypnotize.

Men who undertake to know the power of the snake must first recognize that it is a godlike being. The white man made--and still makes--war on snakes. The Native American reverenced the snake and would no more kill it without reason than kill a man without reason. When a white man kills an animal-a snake, for instance--he believes that the energy of the snake, its spirit, dies in death. The spirit may live on until--as the old belief tells us--the sun goes down. After that, the snake, with its presence of evil, is dead. Not so with the Native American. Snake spirit does not die in death, it returns to avenge its assailant.

The horned Snake allowed its spirit to be borrowed for the unselfish communal purpose of the hunt. Yabi Odja had Snake-power because he was allowed into the sacred cave of the Horned Snake priests and he was given the ability to dive deeply and hold his breath long on the turtle hunts. This not unlike the Hopi story of Tiyo, the Snake Boy, who, taken into the underground kiva of the rattlesnake priests, was given a rattler-bride, who later bore him children. The Hopis did not mind this except their children were bitten, and so the snakes were driven out of Hopi in disgrace.

As a result, a great drought came to the land, proving to the Hopis that the rattlesnake people controlled the cycle of rain. Today, this belief is enacted, as it has been for hundreds of years, in the celebrated Hopi Snake Dance, during which the trance effect of snake and man may be witnessed, but not necessarily explained. man and snake become one entity; the shared power flows between the two in uninterrupted trance-like grace. When the snakes are released, they are returned to keep the balance they brought to men in nature, in their own world

Source: Gerald Hauman's Meditations with Animals: Native American Bestiary (1986)

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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