The Great Bear and the Six Hunters. Or, The Seven Stars of the Dipper
A Seneca Legend
Six men went out hunting, for a long time they found no game. One of their number said he was sick (he was lazy) and they had to make a litter of two poles and a blanket, and four carried him. The sixth member of the party came behind bringing the kettle. Besides this each man had his own load to carry.
At last, when the hunters were getting very hungry, they came upon bear tracks. They were so hungry that when they saw the tracks they dropped their companion and their burdens and each man ran as fast as he could after the bear.
At first the tracks looked old but they thought, "We will overtake the bear sometime."
Later they saw that the tracks couldn't be more than three days old. The farther the men went the fresher the tracks were till the men said, "Tomorrow we will overtake the bear."
The man they had carried so long was not tired and when they dropped him and he knew he was going to be left he jumped up and ran on after them. As he was fresher than they were he soon passed them and killed the bear.
The men in their race after the bear didn't notice that they were going up all the time. Many people saw them in the air, as they ran along, always rising.
When they overtook the bear and the lazy man, they had reached the sky and there they have remained to this day and can be seen any starlit night. The man who carried the kettle is in the bend of the Dipper, the middle star in the handle and a small star which is the only one near any other of the Dipper stars is the kettle. The Bear is at the lower outside corner. Every Autumn, when the first frost comes, one can see on the leaves of the oak-tree drops of oil, not water, and this is the oil and blood of the Bear.
On seeing it the Indians say, "The lazy man has killed the Bear."
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