Native American Legends
A Mashkussuts Legend
When spring finally came to the country, the bear woke from hibernation.
She got out of her den and said "The spring has arrived again."
She went for a walk to the place where most of the snow had melted
so that she could eat berries. She left her children behind where
they were still asleep. After she had finished eating, she went
back to her den and took a nap. While she was sleeping, her children
woke up and saw that their mother's mouth was purple from eating
One cub said to the other, "Look, what's that in mother's
mouth, sticking to her teeth?" The other replied, "Let's
get them out."
And they took the berries out that had been sticking in mother
bear's mouth, and ate them. The first cub said, "They taste
very good. Let's follow her footprints and see if we can find the
So they followed their mother's footprints until they reached a
patch of berries and started eating too. After they had eaten enough
berries, they both went home. When they had nearly reached their
den, they heard their mother making desperate cries.
But it was too late. A greedy monster had killed their mother and
had eaten her. This monster knew that there were cubs around because
he had seen their footprints in the snow. He was very excited because
he knew that baby cubs are very tasty and tender to eat. He started
to run as he chased after the baby cubs.
The cubs had already taken off running when they heard their mother
screaming. After running for a long time, they met grandmother porcupine
along the trail. They said to her, "Grandma, please let us
pass. We are running away from someone who has killed our mother.
Will you try to stall him while we run again?"
"Yes, I will," replied the grandmother porcupine. "You
have another grandmother who can kill this monster. You will find
her. Just follow this trail," pointing to the path ahead. And
so the cubs ran again.
Shortly thereafter, the monster got to the grandmother porcupine.
He said to her, "Please move out of the way grandma. I'm looking
for our grandchildren. They have run away from me."
Grandmother porcupine said, "I will not move out of the way
unless you can do what they have done for me."
The monster replied, "What did they do?"
She said, "They built me a fire and they rubbed their faces
on my tail."
The monster replied, "Oh, that's easy. I can do that for you."
And so he built her a fire. He was very happy thinking that she
would soon let him pass.
After he had finished making a fire, he rubbed his face on her
tail. But while he was doing this, grandmother porcupine swung her
tail very hard on his face. Quills were lodged all over his eyes
"Now I will move out of your way so you can pass," she
said to the monster.
The monster passed, taking his time to pull the porcupine quills
out of his face. After he had finished picking the quills out, he
was on his way again. He saw the cubs' prints on the ground. The
cubs were still following the trail that the grandmother porcupine
had shown them. They finally reached their other grandma's house.
This grandma was a giant seagull. They said, "Grandma, we are
running away from someone who has killed our mother. We are afraid
he might try to kill us too."
The grandma said, "Don't be afraid. I have killed this kind
of monster before." The cubs were no longer afraid.
She said, "I will take both of you across to where you can
stay safely." She took them across the water in her boat.
The cubs said to their grandmother, "Will you kill this monster,
"I will," she replied.
When she got back to her boat, she painted it with dirty, smelly
fish. When the monster reached the crossing place, he called out
to the seagull, "Grandma, please come help me get across!"
The seagull paddled her boat to the monster.
"Did you see our grandchildren? I have been running after
them. I was thinking of eating them because they are still very
The seagull said, "Yes, I have seen them. I took them across.
Would you like to go across too?" "Yes," said the
monster. And he got into the boat. When he got into the boat, he
couldn't stand the smell of it.
The seagull said, "If you can't stand the smell, hang your
head over the side instead." And so the monster held his head
over the water to avoid smelling the stinking boat. While he was
doing this, the seagull took a huge knife out from hiding and cut
his head off. It fell into the water.
After she had killed the monster, she went back to the bear cubs.
"I have already killed the monster who killed your mother,"
she said. "You can both stay here, and I will make you toys
to play with."
The bear cubs played with their boat on the river, and they had
a lot of fun. They stayed there forever.
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