President Theodore Roosevelt was a lover of the natural world. When he visited Arizona in 1913, he made it a point to visit the Hopi Indian tribe in order to witness their sacred Snake Dance, something outsiders rarely get to see.

This ceremony, which has been performed for centuries, is the tribe’s way of showing respect to nature in the hope of receiving ample rainfall in the coming season. The event involves gathering snakes, both venomous and non-venomous, and bathing them before they are draped over the dancers. Roosevelt was awed by the ceremony and as tough as he was, he was taken aback by the site.

On National Serpent Day, we celebrate these reptiles who often get a bad rap. Although we strongly recommend viewing them at a safe distance.