Even today Red Indian boys go away into solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth decided to test himself against a tall mountain. He threw his blanket over his shoulder and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. His Hearts swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a rattlesnake. Before he could move, the snake spoke, “I’m starving and freezing to death up here. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.”

“No,” said the youth. “I have been warned about you rattlesnakes. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite will kill me.”

“No way!” said the snakes. “I will treat you differently. If you do me this favor, you will be special. I will not harm you.”

The youth resisted for a while, but that wa a very persuasive snake with a beautiful markings. So he picked up the snake and tucked it under his shirt. When they were back down in the valley, he took the snake out of his shirt and gently laid it on the grass. Then suddenly it coiled, rattled and sprang, biting the boy on the leg. “But you promised,” he cried.

“You knew what I was when you picked me up,”u answered the snake as he slithered away.

Today, Red Indians tell that story to their youth who are tempted to take drugs. They repeat to them the rattlesnake’s own words: “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

- Iron Eyes Cody

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