Indianz.Com > News > Doug George-Kanentiio: Indigenous peoples continue to endure
Shut Down DAPL
Lakota youth symbolically strike down a black snake representing the Dakota Access Pipeline near the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2021. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
When the Serpents Devour Themselves
Thursday, June 16, 2022

Six years ago I wrote a column in response to the plans by an oil pipeline company to build across the sacred territory of the Lakota people at Standing Rock. I cited a Mohawk teaching regarding the extraction from beneath the earth of the remains of long deceased animals and plant-the oil from which all nations have now come to rely upon.

Our ancestors warned that. releasing the remains would cause havoc on this earth. It would be unleashing the black serpents and the destructive power they wield. We are told that the Thunder Beings were assigned the task of keeping the serpents entombed and that whenever a lightning bolt strikes the earth it is at. place where the serpents are closest to the surface.

Humans will make the fatal mistake of using what was meant to be buried and by doing so bring about ecological catastrophes. Our arrogance and callousness will have devastating effects; we will contaminate earth, sky and waters. The black serpents will cause dramatic shifts in the climate with increasingly powerful winds, made so by the warming waters, sweeping across the continent bringing in turn floods, torrential rains, earthquakes and blizzards.

The climate crisis will also cause tensions within every community as individuals try and survive these radical changes. We are told other species will become fearful of these shifts and begin to fade away. Unmistakeable signs will be the demise of important trees such as the elm, maple, chestnut and ash along with plants such as the strawberry. The Thunder Beings will also disappear but not before shifting their journey from the west to the east.

Shut Down DAPL
A scene from the Shut Down DAPL event against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2021. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Most of us have been told of the Silver and Gold serpent story; the one in which Native fishermen find two small snake like creatures floundering in the eastern sea before bringing them to their community where there rapid growth devastated the area of its resources and consuming the people who had given them shelter. The serpents grew to become monsters defiling the land, water and air as they went west, leaving destruction and death in their wake.

We are told the serpents would separate with one slithering its way northwest and the other due west. In time they would reach the western shore of Anowarakowa where they had consumed so much there was little left to eat. It was then the serpents would look back to the east, across foul waters and a raped earth, to see that some of the original people had survived and in their rage the serpents would attack them.

The other story about serpents tells of their release from beneath the earth. These are the creation of Tewaskeron and were directed to destroy whatever his twin Okwirase had made. These creatures would also cause chaos so severe as to lead the planet to become endangered. Bu the serpents would fight among each other, compelled by greed and avarice until they would become weakened and prey to other dragons who would come from the west and south to feast on their helpless victims.

While symbolic these stories are prophetic and when grafted to the other prophecies, including the specific ones within the predictions of the Seneca teacher Skanenratiio, give us a clear map as to current events and what will soon come to take place.

We can see that the Americans are engaged in vicious cycles of self destruction, so passionate and angry as to cause them to lose any sense of direction or collective awareness as to the impending ecological collapse. They cannot summon the common action necessary to return the black serpents back into the earth nor undo the damages which will now take generations to heal.

We will witness these events in our lifetime and the Onkwe will endure because of the inherent power within our ceremonies and our instructions, our tobacco and our sense of belonging to this land.

We do know more killings will take place that what took in Texas and Buffalo is neither unique nor unexpected. It is but one indication of a culture amiss, with no sense of purpose other than consumerism. The response by the indigenous people is obvious: act in concert to reconnect with the natural world and affirm our duties towards all forms of life.

Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is a residential school survivor. He was given the number 4-8-2-738. He serves as the vice-president of the Hiawatha Institute for Indigenous Knowledge. He previously served as a Trustee for the National Museum of the American Indian, is a former land claims negotiator for the Mohawk Nation and is the author of numerous books and articles about the Mohawk people. He may be reached via e-mail at: or by calling 315-415-7288.