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Native American Legends

Grizzly Bear and Raccoon

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

Little-Raccoon (kaikáiyuts) used to hunt crawfish along the edge of the creek. One day, after catching all he could eat, he became sleepy, and climbed an alder-tree to an old crow's nest. There he went to sleep with his tail hanging over the side of the nest. Grizzly-Bear was traveling along the creek, when she happened to look up and see Raccoon's tail. So Grizzly-Bear went there, shook the tree, and woke up Raccoon. Then she said, "How did you get up there?" and Raccoon replied, " I backed up." So Grizzly-Bear also backed up the tree.

She said to Raccoon, "Now, Raccoon, you may louse my head." But the Raccoon could find no lice in the head of Grizzly-Bear, only little frogs. She was lying with her head back, and Raccoon dropped a little frog down her ear. He said to Grizzly-Bear, "Aunt, I dropped one louse down your ear." She replied, "Then dig him out." Raccoon put in his finger, but could not reach the frog. Then Grizzly-Bear thought of her long bone needle, and she gave this to Raccoon to dig out the louse. Raccoon put the needle in place in the ear, and then gave it a heavy blow with his fist and killed Grizzly-Bear. Then Raccoon climbed down out of the tree, and started for home.

Raccoon told his grandmother that he had killed Grizzly-Bear. Then they went and cut her up. Now, Raccoon's grandmother had taken off her leggings, and by chance had scratched her leg; and when Raccoon saw the blood on her leg, he said to her, "You must go home, you are having menses." She did not wish to go, but he compelled her to do so, lest she spoil his luck.

Raccoon dug a roasting-pit, and roasted the bear-meat in it. When all was ready, he went home, and said to his grandmother, "A large crowd has come to see me, and I do not think there will be any meat left for you." Then he went out to the roasting-pit, where he made a fine speech and ate, and then made another fine speech and ate, until he alone had eaten up all the bear-meat. Then he told his grandmother she had better take care of the hide, because that was all that was left.

The old woman did not like the way she had been treated; so, after Raccoon had stepped outside, she put on the hide, and thus changed herself into a Grizzly-Bear. Raccoon came back after the old woman had gone off into the brush. He could not find her around camp, so he tracked her out into the brush. Then he heard the sound of pounding; and he thought she was making bread of kaus-roots for him, but instead she was pounding the ground in anger. It was almost evening. When Raccoon called to his grandmother, "Are you making kaus-bread for me?" she replied, "Yes!" And then, when he came close, she caught him and killed him, and then went off into the mountains.

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