Snake was born on the Rama Reserve near Orillia, Ontario, in 1966. He began to draw as soon as he could hold a pencil and crayon. He was cared for and supported by his mother, Carol, an artist in her own right who, along with her cousin Arthur Shilling, recognized and encouraged Snake to continue his art.
Arthur Shilling took Snake under his wing and helped to refine his young, raw talent. Shilling was the one who first exposed Snake to the prolific works of Norval Morrisseau. Snake’s family moved to Midland, Ontario where he continued to draw. But instead of reserve pictures depicting everyday life and legends passed down it was grain elevators and other subjects of everyday rural life that captured his attention. Tragically, Arthur Shilling passed away in 1986 from a heart ailment.