Native American Legends
Bear and the Fawns
A Miwok Legend
"Sister-in-law, let us get clover. I like clover," Bear
said to Deer. Then Deer replied, "Yes, we will eat clover."
Bear said, "We will leave these girls (Fawns) at home. They
always follow you." She told the Fawns, "We go to eat
clover. Clover is high enough to eat now, I think. You girls stay
at home until we return."
Bear said to her sister-in-law, "Let's go. We will be back
tonight." Then they went below to eat clover.
After they had gone below, Bear said, "Let's sit down and
rest." Then she continued, "Examine my head, examine my
head. I must have lice on my head." Deer replied, "Yes,
yes, come here and I will look for lice." Then she found lice
on Bear's head. She found large frogs on Bear's head. When she found
the frogs, she picked them off and threw them away. Bear asked her,
"What is it that you throw away? Are you throwing away my lice?"
Deer replied, "No, you hear the leaves dropping." Bear
said, "Take them all out. I have many lice."
Then Deer removed them all, Bear asked, "What are you throwing
away?" Deer replied, "I throw away nothing. You hear pine
cones dropping from the tree." Bear said, "I think that
you throw away my lice." Deer retorted, "No, those are
pine cones dropping from the trees."
"Remove them all, then," said Bear; "remove them
all. My head feels light, since you have finished picking the lice
from it." Deer threw away the frogs, threw away large frogs.
Bear said to Deer, "Let me examine your head." Deer said,
"All right.'' Bear examined Deer's head and said, "There
are many." Deer's lice were wood-ticks and Bear proceeded to
take them from Deer's head.
Then Bear said, "There are many. I do not think I can get
them all by picking. You have many. Let me chew these lice and your
many lice. That is the only way I can remove them. You have many
lice. I do not think that I have removed them all. There are many.
Stoop and I will chew your hair. Do not be afraid. Stoop and let
Then Deer stooped. She thought Bear's intentions were good. Bear
examined her hair for awhile, and then chewed. Instead of chewing
Deer's hair, Bear bit her neck, killing her.
Bear ate all of Deer, except the liver, which she took home. She
placed the liver in a basket and put clover on top of it. Then she
went home. She proceeded homeward after sundown, carrying the clover
in the basket with the liver in the bottom of the basket.
Arriving at home, she told the Fawns to eat the clover. She said
to them, "Your mother has not come yet; you know She is always
slow. She always takes her time in coming home." Thus spoke
Bear to the Fawns, when she arrived at home.
The Fawns ate the clover. After they had eaten it, they saw the
liver in the bottom of the basket. The younger one found it. She
told the older one, "Our aunt killed our mother. That is her
liver." The older Fawn said to her younger sister, "Our
aunt took her down there and killed her. We had better watch, or
she will kill us, too."
They continued to eat the clover after finding the liver. Then
the younger one said, ''What shall we do? I fear she will kill us,
if we stay here. We had better go to our grandfather. Get ready
all of our mother's awls. Get all of the baskets. Get ready and
then we will go. We will go before our aunt kills us. She killed
our mother. I think it is best for us to go.
"Do not forget to take the awls," said the older Fawn,
for she was afraid of being overtaken by Bear. The Fawns started
with the baskets and awls, leaving one basket behind. Their aunt,
Bear, was not at home when they left. When she returned, she looked
about, but saw no Fawns. Then Bear discovered their tracks and set
out to follow them. After she had tracked them a short distance,
the basket, left at home, whistled. Bear ran back to see if the
Fawns had returned. In the meantime the Fawns proceeded on their
journey, throwing awls and baskets in different directions. Again,
Bear started from the house. As she proceeded the awls whistled.
Bear, thinking that the Fawns were whistling, left the trail in
search of them.
The Fawns said, "We go to our grandfather."
As Bear followed them along the trail, the baskets and awls whistled
and delayed her. Whenever Bear heard the whistles, she became angry
and ran in the direction from which the sound proceeded. She of
course saw nothing and returned to the trail. She heard a whistle
in the direction of the stream. She ran toward it, but when she
arrived there, saw nothing.
When she did not find the girls she became angry. She said, "Those
girls are making fun of me." Then she shouted, "Where
are you, girls? Why don't you meet me?" The awls only whistled
in response and Bear ran toward the sound. Then she became, still
angrier and said to herself, "If I capture you girls, I will
eat you. If I find you girls, I will eat you."
Bear continued to track the Fawns. She found the trail easily and
saw their tracks upon it. She said, "I have found the marks
that will lead me to them." She followed the marks upon the
trail. "If I catch them, I shall eat them." She heard
more whistling and that enraged her. Then she jumped on to a tree
and bit a limb in two. It made her furious to hear the whistling.
She said to herself, "If I ever catch those girls, I shall
eat them." The baskets continued to whistle on both sides of
the trail; making her very angry, and retarding her progress. The
Fawns had many baskets.
They followed the long trail until they arrived at a river. Bear
was far behind. On the opposite side of the river they saw their
grandfather, Daddy Long-legs. They told him that Bear had eaten
their mother and that they wanted to cross the river in order to
escape from her. Their grandfather extended his leg across the river
so that they might walk across on it. Then they crossed on their
grandfather's leg. In the meantime Bear continued to track them.
She still followed false leads because of the whistling of the baskets
and awls. The following of false leads delayed her.
The Fawns said to their grandfather, Daddy Long-legs, "Let
her cross the river. She follows us." Bear was still coming
along the trail. The baskets, the soap-root brushes, and the awls
continued to whistle, causing her delay. The Fawns had many baskets,
soap-root brushes, and awls.
After the Fawns had crossed the river, Bear arrived at the bank.
She asked Daddy Long-legs, "Did the girls come by this place?"
He replied, "Yes." Then Bear told Daddy Long-legs, "The,
girls ran away from me." Daddy Long-legs asked, "Where
is their mother?" Bear replied, "Their mother is sick.
That is why she did not come, and that is why I seek the girls.
She told me to bring them back."
Bear then asked Daddy Long-legs to put his leg across the river,
so that she might cross. He said, "All right," and stretched
his leg across the river. Then Bear walked on Daddy Long-legs leg.
When she reached the middle, Daddy Long-legs gave a sudden spring
and throw her into the air. She fell into the river, and had to
swim to the opposite shore.
She found again the track of the Fawns. Wherever the track was
plain she ran rapidly to make up for the time lost. The numerous
awls, which the Fawns had thrown to each side of the trail, whistled
"Hurry, sister, we near our grandfather's (Lizard's) house,"
said the older Fawn to the younger. Bear became exceedingly angry
and shouted in her rage.
"Hurry, she comes; hurry, sister, she comes. We would not
like to have her catch us before we reached our grandfather's,"
said the older Fawn. Then the Fawns threw awls and baskets to each
side of the trail anew. As they approached their grandfather's house,
Bear gained upon them. As Bear saw them nearing their grandfather's
she, shouted again in her anger.
The Fawns at last arrived at their grandfather's assembly house
grandfather told the Fawns, and asked him to open the door. The
"My door is on the north side of the house." The Fawns
ran to the north side, but found no door. Then they called again,
''Hurry, grandfather, open the door." He said, "My door
is on the east side of the house." Then they ran to the east
side, but found no door, Then they ran around the house. They found
no door. They called again to their grandfather. He said, "My
door is at the top of the house. Come in through the top."
The Fawns climbed to the top of the house and entered through the
smoke hole. Their grandfather asked why they had come to see him.
The Fawns told him, "Bear killed our mother." The grandfather
asked, "Where is Bear?"
The Fawns said, "Bear took our mother down to the clover.
She ate mother there. Then she returned to the house and told us
to eat the clover which she brought. While we were eating the clover
from the basket, we found the liver of our mother in the bottom
under the clover, found our mother's liver at the bottom of the
basket. The clover was on top of it.'' Thus spoke the Fawns to their
grandfather. He asked them again, "Where is Bear?"
The Fawns replied, "She follows us. She comes. Yes, she comes."
Then Lizard, their grandfather, threw two large white stones into
the fire. The Fawns sat by and watched him while he heated the two
white stones. While he heated the stones, Bear came. She had followed
the tracks of the Fawns to their grandfather's assembly house. Bear
said to herself, "I think they went to their grandfather's."
Meanwhile Lizard heated the white stones.
After looking around the assembly house, Bear called to Lizard,
"Did the Fawns come here?" Lizard said, "Yes. Why?"
"Well, I wish to take them home," said Bear. Lizard asked.
"Why do you wish to take them home?" Then Bear replied,
"I wish to take them home to their mother. Where is your door?"
Lizard told her that the door was on the north side of the assembly
house. She ran to the north side, but found no door. She called
again, "Where is the door?" "It is on the west side
of my assembly house," said Lizard. Bear was very angry, but
she ran to the west side of the house. She found no door there,
so she asked again. Lizard said, "It is on the east side of
my assembly house." Again she found no door, and she became
exceedingly angry and asked him crossly, "Where is the door?"
Lizard replied, "Run around the assembly house and you will
find it." She ran around the house four times, but to no avail.
In more of a rage than ever, she asked Lizard, "Where is your
door?" Then Lizard told her that it was at the top of the assembly
house. Bear climbed to the top and found the opening.
Upon finding the opening, she shouted and said, "I shall eat
those girls." Lizard only laughed. Bear asked how she should
enter. Lizard said, "Shut your eyes fight and open your mouth
wide, then you enter the quicker."
Bear shut her eyes tight and shoved her head through the smoke
hole with her mouth wide open. Lizard called to her, "Wider."
Then Lizard threw those two white stones, which he had heated, and
threw one of them into her mouth. It rolled into her stomach. He
threw the second one. It remained in her month. Bear rolled from
the top of the assembly house dead.
Lizard told his granddaughters, "She is dead." Then Lizard
went outside and skinned Bear. After skinning, her, he dressed the
hide well. He cut it into two pieces, making one small piece and
one large piece.
He gave the large hide to the older Fawn and the small hide to
the younger. He said to them, "Take care of those hides."
Then he told the older Fawn to run and discover what sort of a sound
the hide made when she ran. The older Fawn ran and the sound was
very loud. Then Lizard told the younger Fawn to run. Her hide made
a fairly loud sound, but not so loud as that of the older Fawn.
Old Lizard laughed, saying, "The younger one is stronger than
the older." Then he told them to run together. He pointed to
a large tree and told them to try their strength against the tree.
The older one tried first. She ran against it, splintering it a
little. Then the younger girl ran against the tree at its thickest
part. She smashed it to pieces.
Lizard laughed again and said, "You are stronger than your
sister." Then he told both to run together. They ran about
and kicked the tree all day long. Lizard returned home and, upon
arriving there, said, "The girls are all right. I think I had
better send them above."
The Fawns said to Lizard, "We are going home." Lizard
asked them not to go. He said, ''I shall get you both a good place.
I am going to send you girls above." Then the girls went up.
They ran around above and Lizard heard them running. He called them
Thunders. He said, "I think it is better for them to stay there.
They will be better off there." Lizard closed the door of his
assembly house. Rain began to fall. The girls ran around on the
top, and rain and hail fell.
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