The story of Genesis as found in the opening book of the Bible is a fairly familiar one to most folks. God floated on the Void, made all of Creation in six days, and then rested on the seventh.
In Chapter One God makes Creation and Man, in Chapter Two he makes the Garden of Eden and Woman. He makes Adam from the clay of the Earth and breathes life into him. To make Eve he takes one of Adam’s ribs, forms it, and breathes life into it.
Having set the stage, God then tells Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree placed in the center of the Garden. This information he passes on to Eve. Eve meets the snake, the snake convinces her otherwise, and she takes a big bite.
Now-a-days we associate taking a bite out of the apple as forbidden fruit, of adultery and carnal knowledge of another man’s wife. The serpent re-does her wiring so that she thinks differently about it and takes the plunge.
The Blackfeet Indians resided in Northwestern America, far from the shores of Palestine. Yet there are cultural similarities that exist in the Genesis myths of each of the two. Here are a few of the images from the native neck of the woods.
From “The Sun Came Down” by Percy Bullchild.
When all were at work, it was a routine thing for the woman to go off to herself to rustle what she needed for their camp…
It was one of these times the woman was alone. She was in a very high growth of shrub, looking for food. It was there that she got very startled by the appearance of another being. A tall, slim man, and in the same manner the boys and their father, Creator Sun, were made. At that particular time, handsome or good-looking wasn’t heard of. But for some reason, the woman seen (sic) something very extra special in this man’s looks. She was completely overcome with surprise. She couldn’t speak, she couldn’t move, she just stood there and stared at the man…
For a long time they stood there staring at each other, probably waiting for each other to say the first word.
The Snakeman was the first to break the silence. “Don’t be so startled. I’m a being, just like you…”
“Before you leave me,” said the Snakeman to the woman, “I want to tell you not to mention our meeting here…”
The woman readily agreed to this. She was a little nervous about it herself, too.
You can feel the sensual tension starting to rise.
And you can imagine what takes place from there. The Snakeman slowly wins her confidence, becomes her lover, and lives in a hole beneath a bush or tree that she stomps on when she wants him to emerge.
In one storyline, the “bite of the apple” is used to symbolize carnal knowledge. In the other the details are less metaphorical
The associations are obvious. The question is: what is the connection between the book of Genesis and the Blackfeet Tribe of the western states?
“In the beginning…”