Ancient Symbolism in Art & Legend

Sun Circle, Eye-Hand, Tie Snake Medallion

By Ghost Dancer

Tie Snake Medallion by Ghost Dancer

The all-seeing eye of Pucase Hesaketv (Master of Breath and Life) placed on the back of the hand indicates the eye never sleeps and a closed fist can never hide the truth.

The hand represents the spirit of the Mvskoke people. The hand of the people can be loving, giving, protecting, or reaching and striking in all directions.

Rattlesnakes represent sacred guardians and protectors. A rattlesnake gives warning to back up, respect my area or I will strike. It is the same in this symbol; respect the area of the Mvskoke person or people or they will strike as fast and as deadly as the rattlesnake.

Tied together, the snakes completely surround everything in our world, protecting our territory, and the color yellow signifies death to those who violate this protection.    

Notice there are only 4 buttons on each snake. These represent the sacred number 4; the 4 elements, 4 seasons, 4 stages of life, 4 directions, etc. The color, white in the center represents the purity and sacredness of love, peace and balance. The color red symbolizes love of Spirit, our people, and our land. It also represents honor, the sun and the east.

The Mvskoke were the dominant peoples of the Creek Confederation. Together they were a huge nation and all nations respected and feared them for their skills, knowledge, and determination.

Inspiration: Motif from the “Rattlesnake Disk,” a circular sandstone disk found at the prehistoric site of Moundville, Alabama. Two-needle beading technique – One needle is threaded and strung with beads for the design. The second needle is used to sew down the beads, allowing the creation of curves. Neckpiece – wood, shell, bone, and other natural materials. © Ghost Dancer 2015

Southeastern Creek Indian Tie Snake Legend Lost in Time… almost…
The story…

This story was told by Peter Ewing (1860-1932) Ewing was from Hichiti tribal town, Wind clan. He served many years as a Baptist minister and was Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in 1931. This story is taken from the book “Creek (Muskogee) Texts” by Haas/Hill and made possible by Jack Martin.

The Singing River (Hvcce Yvhikv)

Hvcce Yvhikv oh-onvkv ocet omes.
There is a story about the Singing River.

Momis mv hvccen okhoyvte kerreskot os.
But the river that is meant is not known.

Hvcce hocefkv kerreskot ont os.
The name of the river is not known.

Momis este-Maskoke ennak onvkv-vculet omes.
But it is an old-time Creek story.

Tvlofv-cule vpokof, onvkv kerken sawvtet omes.
When they were living in the old country, the story was known, and they brought it out.

Onvkv hiyomen vlicecet os.
The story begins like this.

Hofonof estet fullvtes maket os.
A long time ago there were some people, [the story] goes.

Hocefkv Yvmasvlke maket omes.
Their name was Yamasalki [‘humble/peaceful ones’].

Este sulkemahet omvtes.
There were very many of them.

Momet eyaskvtet horre etvlwv etv enhayetv yacekot omakvtes.
And they were meek and did not wish to make war on other tribes [etvlwv].

Este elecetv yacvkekot omet herkuset omakvtes.
They did not want to kill people and were very peaceful.

Mv momat omecicen, etvlwvt etv sasat assecet pvsatvtes.
For that reason, there was another tribe that chased them and killed them.

Momen vwahehocen fullvtetot, hvtvm etoh-vtelohket fullet omvtes.
And they were scattered about and again came back together.

Momen pvsvthoyen ayen nvcumuse hakvtes.
And they kept being killed until only a few remained.

Momet fullet hvcce rakke onvpvn nvkaftvtes.
Then going about, they met on the banks of a big river.

Estomet ohhvtvlakat fullvranat monkat eyoksicvranat omvlkvt etem punahoyet fvccecvranet omvtes.
They all talked about how they would go about increasing or come to an end and were to decide.

Monkv honvntake, hoktvkeu, hopuetakuce omvlkvt nvkaftet omvtes.
So the men, women too, and little children all met.

Ennvcumkv omecicen eyvniceko tayet omekv, enhorret em vfuloten pvlken fulecen omis, pvsvthoyvranet tvlken kerraket.
Because of their small number, they could not help themselves, and they knew if they went back with their enemies surrounding them, they were sure to be killed.

Hvcce tvyecetvn hopuetakucet akpvsatketok:
If they crossed the river, the little children would drown:

Estometv kerrvkekates.
They didn’t know what to do.

Momen espoke fvccecakat okaket
Then they decided at last, saying,

“Omvlkvkat etehvlvthayet, yvhiket uewv enlvoke off min esakceyepvkes” mahket
“Let all of us hold hands and enter the depths of the water singing instead,”

Honvntake, hoktvke, hopuetakuce omvlkvt etehvlvthayet yvhiket uewv sakceyvtes.
And all the men, women, and children entered the water holding hands and singing.

Yvhikakat pohken ayen cvyayakvtes maket the oh-onvkvt omes.
They could be heard singing and then, after a time, they grew quiet, the story relates.

Estvmv hvccen maketvo sekon, yvhiketv estomen yvhikaket omvte kerretv sekot omes.
What river it is, is not said; which song they sang is not known.

Momis yvhiketv heren yvhikaket tvlkes komhoyet omvtes,
But it’s bound to have been a good song that they sang, it’s thought,

este heraket omat ‘stelecetv yacekot omakvtetok.
for they were fine people who didn’t wish to kill people.

Momet ehocefkv Yvmasvlke maket omekv,
And their name was Yamasalki [‘humble/peaceful ones’],

mont est’ vkvsvmepuecet omes.
and it leads anyone to believe it

Mv estvlke akhvtvpecvtetis yvhikakan pohket omis, okhohyes kometv omes.
The thought is that those people who went down into the water might have been heard singing.

The rest of the story…
Ghost Dancer

A big part of the story was left out, the part where the tie snakes saved their lives. The story is about the tie snakes and these snakes sing because of it. These magical snake beings have many stories about them. Some say this was the Suwannee River. Some say it was the Flint River in Georgia. But others say it was the Mulberry River in Alabama. It is considered to be the Mulberry because they say at a certain spot the children can still be heard singing. This is where the Locust Fork and the Mulberry Rivers come together in Blount County, Alabama. Not far from there was a Hitchiti town and the children were instructed by the tie snakes that they were to always sing when they gathered the mulberries and none of them would ever drown.

These were told to me by my Great Aunt Leathee and by extended grandmother, Ruby Tiger Osceola (Grandma Ruby) when I was a young boy. Ghost

Editor’s Note: Here is an example of the way many of the old stories and legends of the Southeastern Creek Peoples were lost or altered during and after the 1836 Creek removal. I am never surprised by the knowledge Ghost Dancer holds. Ghost is a treasure even if only a few recognize it or give him the honor he is due. It’s time we remember the whole story. epd

Published by Sings Many Songs

I'm an 80-something child of the great depression and WWII. Throughout my life I have been a seeker, an outsider, never quite belonging anywhere, still always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. A lifelong student with many interests and a love of writing and editing, my elder's path led to encouraging and assisting some remarkable people to write out their amazing stories. This calling became the magic elixir that keeps me growing, keeps me alive.

2 thoughts on “Ancient Symbolism in Art & Legend

  1. Richard, Ghost made this and the Horned Winged Serpent medallion and several other pieces especially for Dee Sturgis’ Heritage Exhibit. As in all things he does, Ghost’ work is sacred to him and he gives it away. He made an exquisite medallion in honor of Bearheart and PBT and one for me as well. Now because of his advanced disabilities he is no longer able to do this precise work.


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