Native American Legends
Old Man Above and the Grizzlies
A Shasta Legend
Along time ago, while smoke still curled from the smoke hole of
the tepee, a great storm arose. The storm shook the tepee. Wind
blew the smoke down the smoke hole.
Old Man Above said to Little Daughter, "Climb up to the smoke
hole. Tell Wind to be quiet. Stick your arm out of the smoke hole
before you tell him."
Little Daughter climbed up to the smoke hole and put out her arm.
But Little Daughter put out her head also. She wanted to see the
world. Little Daughter wanted to see the rivers and trees, and the
white foam on the Bitter Waters.
Wind caught Little Daughter by the hair. Wind pulled her out of
the smoke hole and blew her down the mountain. Wind blew Little
Daughter over the smooth ice and the great forests, down to the
land of the Grizzlies. Wind tangled her hair and then left her cold
and shivering near the tepees of the Grizzlies.
Soon Grizzly came home. In those days Grizzly walked on two feet,
and carried a big stick. Grizzly could talk as people do. Grizzly
laid down the young elk he had killed and picked up Little Daughter.
He took Little Daughter to his tepee. Then Mother Grizzly warmed
her by the fire. Mother Grizzly gave her food to eat.
Soon Little Daughter married the son of Grizzly. Their children
were not Grizzlies. They were men. So the Grizzlies built a tepee
for Little Daughter and her children. White men call the tepee Little
At last Mother Grizzly sent a son to Old Man Above. Mother Grizzly
knew that Little Daughter was the child of Old Man Above, but she
She said: "Tell Old Man Above that Little Daughter is alive."
Old Man Above climbed out of the smoke hole. He ran down the mountain
side to the land of the Grizzlies. Old Man Above ran very quickly.
Wherever he set his foot the snow melted. The snow melted very quickly
and made streams of water. Now Grizzlies stood in line to welcome
Old Man Above. They stood on two feet and carried clubs.
Then Old Man Above saw his daughter and her children. He saw the
new race of men. Then Old Man Above became very angry. He said to
Grizzlies, "Never speak again. Be silent. Neither shall ye
stand upright. Ye shall use your hands as feet. Ye shall look downward."
Then Old Man Above put out the fire in the tepee. Smoke no longer
curls from the smoke hole. He fastened the door of the tepee. The
new race of men he drove out. Then Old Man Above took Little Daughter
back to his tepee.
That is why grizzlies walk on four feet and look downward. Only
when fighting they stand on two feet and use their fists like men.
Native American Legends
Back to Top
Other Native American Legends