Choctaw - How Poison Came into the World
Back when the world was new, there was a certain plant that grew in the shallow water of the bayous. It grew in the places where the Choctaw people would come to bathe or swim. This vine was very poisonous and whenever the people touched this vine, they would become very sick and die.
This vine liked the Choctaw people and felt sorry for them. It did not want to cause them so much suffering. It could not show itself to them, because it was its nature to grow beneath the surface. So it decided to give its poison away. It called together the chiefs of the small people of the swamps-the bees, wasps and snakes. It told them that it wished to give up its poison.
Those small creatures held council together about the vine's offer. Until then, they had no poison and they were often stepped on by others. They agreed that they would share the poison. Wasp spoke first. "I will take a small part of your poison," it said. "Then I will be able to defend my nest. But I will warn the people by buzzing close to them before I poison them. I will keep the poison in my tail."
Bee was next. "I, too, will take a small part of your poison." it said. "I will use it to defend my hive. I will warn the people away before I poison them and even if I should have to use my poison, it will kill me to use it, so I will use it carefully."
Water Moccasin spoke. "I will take some of your poison. I will only use it if people step on me. I will hold it in my mouth and when I open my mouth people will see how white it is and know that they should avoid me."
Last of all. Rattlesnake spoke. "I will take a good mea-sure of your poison," he said. "I will take all that remains. I will hold it in my mouth, too. Before I strike anyone, I will use my tail to warn them. Intesha, intesha, intesha, intesha. That is the sound I will make to let them know they are too close."
So it was done. The vine gave up its poison to the bees and wasps, the water moccasin and the rattlesnake. Now the shallow waters of the bayous were safe for the Choctaw people and where once that vine had poison, now it had flowers. From then on, only those who were foolish and did not heed the warnings of the small ones who took the vine's poison were hurt.
Taken from the book Keepers of the Animals by Joseph Bruchac