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Native American Legends

The Bears

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

Once upon a time there were five men and five Grizzly-Bear girls. There was also a Black-Bear who had a son and a daughter. The oldest man had married the daughter of Black-Bear. This angered the Grizzly-Bears, as they wanted the men for themselves. They became so enraged that they resolved to kill the men. They danced, and as they did so, blood spurted forth from their mouths. They said, "When spring comes, we shall kill them."

One day, when the oldest man went hunting, he saw a woman digging roots in a canyon. When she held up her head, he saw that she was good-looking. She had a high crown on her hat, and was beautifully dressed and painted. Her hair was long. He walked up the canyon toward her, wondering who she might be. She was really the oldest Grizzly-Bear girl. She asked the man to come near. As he approached her, she became a wild Grizzly-Bear. She seized him and broke his neck. On the following day, when his brothers went to look for him, they found his body with broken neck. In the same way the Grizzly-Bears killed four of the men and took their heads to their den.

The Black-Bear's son knew all that happened. His father accused him of having killed his brothers-in-law. "You say the wrong things when you sing while you are dancing," he said to him. They danced, and the boy sang, saying that he would kill the first bear that came out. He sang the wrong words. The old Bear said, "Go and look for your brother-in-law." The girl then told him that four had been killed, and only one was left. The young bear and the boy were of the same size. "Let us go and see them," the man said. "No, don't come! Let me go alone," the boy replied, "for if they kill me, they will kill you as well." He went alone, and found the Grizzly-Bear woman digging roots. As he approached her, she invited him too to come up and talk. The boy had been warned to shoot when she spoke to him. He did so and shot her. When she made for him, he shot a second arrow and killed her. Then he returned home. On the following morning he went again. This time another Grizzly-Bear was there digging roots. He approached her and killed her as he had killed her sister. The next morning he went again, and the same thing happened. Thus he disposed of all five sisters. Then the old Black-Bear put the four heads of the men back on their bodies. He stepped over them, and thus restored them to life.

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