Horned Serpent

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The Horned Serpent appears in the mythologies of many Native Americans.[1] Details vary among tribes, with many of the stories associating the mystical figure with water, rain, lightning and/or thunder. Horned Serpents were major components of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of North American prehistory.[2][3]

Horned serpents also appear in European and Near Eastern mythology.

Contents

In Native American culture

The Horned Serpent was venerated, in various forms, by the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek, just to name a few. Some myths say it is invisible, or that it brought rain and made a noise similar to (but not the same as) thunder.[citation needed]

Among the Eastern and Western Cherokee Indians, the horned serpent known as Uktena was venerated. Anthropologist James Mooney, describes it thus:

According to Sioux belief, the Unktehila (Ųȟcéǧila) are dangerous reptilian water monsters that lived in old times. They were of various shapes. In the end the Thunderbirds destroyed them, except for small species like snakes and lizards. This belief may have been inspired by finds of dinosaur fossils in Sioux tribal territory. The Thunderbird may have been inspired partly by finds of pterosaur skeletons.[4]

Other known names

  • Misi-kinepikw ("great snake") - Cree
  • Msi-kinepikwa ("great snake") - Shawnee
  • Misi-ginebig ("great snake") - Oji-Cree
  • Mishi-ginebig ("great snake") - Ojibwe
  • Pita-skog ("great snake") - Abenaki
  • Sinti lapitta - Choctaw
  • Unktehi or Unktehila - Dakota

In European iconography

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