rattlesnake dust blinds enemies

"Rattlesnake rattles? Yo’ see a rattlesnake an’ yo’ goin’ shoot his head off – yo’ kill him jes’ so yo’ git de rattles.
Yo’ git dat rattle an’ yo’ take dat rattle an’ yo’ lay it up right in de sun – yo’ blind ’em wit de sun, right in de sun. Yo’ lay it up
dere fo’ nine days. By dat time why dat rattle in dere be gittin’ dusty. An’ yo’ jes’ take it down an’ jes’ open one of dose rattles, jes’ insert it, pack it all round in de band of dat hat – jes’ a ole work hat or dis work cap, somethin’ like dat, jes’ so it’s got a band in it.

When dey git down right an’ git tuh workin’ dere an’ it git hot, chew know, an’ git sweatin’, quite natural dey perspire run down a
person’s face. Well, now, in wipin’ dat off wit dat hans’cuff or dat rag, why dey git it into dey eyes. Now, dat blind ’em as a bat."

— Hyatt, Vol. 2, p. 1498

I find it amusing that people get so up at arms about poor little putty tats used as materia magica, but nobody ever complains about shooting rattlesnakes’ heads off just to get their rattles.  Don’t give me that "but cats are domestic and rattlesnakes are dangerous" response — yes, it’s true, but isn’t animal cruelty animal cruelty? (The working answer  for most people is, of course not, but this is the part of the debate that never gets aired and so often comes up instead only as an unexamined and deeply embedded assumption about the relative value of various kinds of animal life). 

I find it fascinating that the informant, "contact man Edwards’s landlady" in this case, says, "yo’ blind ’em wit de sun."  Wow.  Neat (the poetics of it – not the performance of it.  I can’t imagine actually being in a spot where I’d want to do this kind of work, but I really dig the language here, as well as the snapshot of the informant’s way of thinking about how this practice works).


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