Native American Legends
The Bear and the Rabbit hunt Buffalo
A Sioux Legend
Once upon a time there lived as neighbors a bear and a rabbit.
The rabbit was a good shot, and the bear being very clumsy could
not use the arrow to good advantage.
The bear was very unkind to the rabbit. Every morning, the bear
would call over to the rabbit and say, "Take your bow and arrows
and come with me to the other side of the hill. A large herd of
buffalo are grazing there, and I want you to shoot some of them
for me, as my children are crying for meat."
The rabbit, fearing to arouse the bear's anger by refusing, consented,
and went with the bear, and shot enough buffalo to satisfy the hungry
family. Indeed, he shot and killed so many that there was lots of
meat left after the bear and his family had loaded themselves, and
packed all they could carry home.
The bear being very gluttonous, and not wanting the rabbit to get
any of the meat, said, "Rabbit, you come along home with us
and we will return and get the remainder of the meat."
The poor rabbit could not even taste the blood from the butchering,
as the bear would throw earth on the blood and dry it up. Poor Rabbit
would have to go home hungry after his hard day's work.
The bear was the father of five children. The youngest boy was
very kind to the rabbit. The mother bear, knowing that her youngest
was a very hearty eater, always gave him an extra large piece of
meat. What the baby bear did not eat, he would take outside with
him and pretend to play ball with it, kicking it toward the rabbit's
house, and when he got close to the door he would give the meat
such a great kick, that it would fly into the rabbit's house, and
in this way poor Rabbit would get his meal unknown to the papa bear.
Baby bear never forgot his friend Rabbit. Papa bear often wondered
why his baby would go outside after each meal. He grew suspicious
and asked the baby where he had been.
"Oh, I always play ball outside, around the house, and when
I get tired playing I eat up my meat ball and then come in."
The baby bear was too cunning to let papa bear know that he was
keeping his friend rabbit from starving to death. Nevertheless,
papa bear suspected baby and said: "Baby, I think you go over
to the rabbit's after every meal."
The four older brothers were very handsome, but baby bear was a
little puny fellow, whose coat couldn't keep out much cold, as it
was short and shaggy, and of a dirty brown color. The three older
brothers were very unkind to baby bear, but the fourth one always
took baby's part, and was always kind to his baby brother.
Rabbit was getting tired of being ordered and bullied around by
papa bear. He puzzled his brain to scheme some way of getting even
with Mr. Bear for abusing him so much. He studied all night long,
but no scheme worth trying presented itself. Early one morning Mr.
Bear presented himself at Rabbit's door.
"Say, Rabbit, my meat is all used up, and there is a fine
herd of buffalo grazing on the hillside. Get your bow and arrows
and come with me. I want you to shoot some of them for me."
"Very well," said Rabbit, and he went and killed six
buffalo for Bear. Bear got busy butchering and poor Rabbit, thinking
he would get a chance to lick up one mouthful of blood, stayed very
close to the bear while he was cutting up the meat.
The bear was very watchful lest the rabbit get something to eat.
Despite bear's watchfulness, a small clot of blood rolled past and
behind the bear's feet. At once Rabbit seized the clot and hid it
in his bosom. By the time Rabbit got home, the blood clot was hardened
from the warmth of his body, so, being hungry, it put Mr. Rabbit
out of sorts to think that after all his trouble he could not eat
Very badly disappointed, he lay down on his floor and gazed up
into the chimney hole. Disgusted with the way things had turned
out, he grabbed up the blood clot and threw it up through the hole.
Scarcely had it hit the ground when he heard the voice of a baby
crying, "Ate! Ate!" (father, father). He went outside
and there he found a big baby boy. He took the baby into his house
and threw him out through the hole again. This time the boy was
large enough to say "Ate, Ate, he-cun-sin-lo." (Father,
father, don't do that).
But nevertheless, he threw him up and out again. On going out the
third time, there stood a handsome youth smiling at him. Rabbit
at once adopted the youth and took him into his house, seating him
in the seat of honor (which is directly opposite the entrance),
and saying: "My son, I want you to be a good, honest, straightforward
man. Now, I have in my possession a fine outfit, and you, my son,
shall wear it."
Suiting his action to his words, he drew out a bag from a hollow
tree and on opening it, drew out a fine buckskin shirt (tanned white
as snow), worked with porcupine quills. Also a pair of red leggings
worked with beads. Moccasins worked with colored hair. A fine otter
skin robe. White weasel skins to intertwine with his beautiful long
black locks. A magnificent center eagle feather. A rawhide covered
bow, accompanied by a quiver full of flint arrowheads.
The rabbit, having dressed his son in all the latest finery, sat
back and gazed long and lovingly at his handsome son. Instinctively
Rabbit felt that his son had been sent him for the purpose of being
instrumental in the downfall of Mr. Bear, as events will show.
The morning following the arrival of Rabbit's son, Mr. Bear again
presents himself at the door, crying out: "You lazy, ugly rabbit,
get up and come out here. I want you to shoot some more buffalo
"Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?"
asked the son.
"It is a bear who lives near here, and makes me kill buffalo
for his family, and he won't let me take even one little drop of
blood from the killing, and consequently, my son, I have nothing
in my house for you to eat."
The young man was anxious to meet Mr. Bear but Rabbit advised him
to wait a little until he and Bear had gone to the hunt. So the
son obeyed, and when he thought it time that the killing was done,
he started out and arrived on the scene just as Mr. Bear was about
to proceed with his butchering.
Seeing a strange shadow on the ground beside him, Mr. Bear looked
up and gazed into the fearless eyes of rabbit's handsome son.
"Who is this?" asked Mr. Bear of poor little Rabbit.
"I don't know," answered Rabbit.
"Who are you?" asked the bear of Rabbit's son. "Where
did you come from?"
The rabbit's son not replying, the bear spoke thus to him: "Get
out of here, and get out quick, too."
At this speech the rabbit's son became angered, and fastened an
arrow to his bow and drove the arrow through the bear's heart. Then
he turned on Mrs. Bear and served her likewise. During the melee,
Rabbit shouted: "My son, my son, don't kill the two youngest.
The baby has kept me from starving and the other one is good and
kind to his baby brother."
So the three older brothers who were unkind to their baby brother
met a similar fate to that of their selfish parents.
This is the reason that bears travel only in pairs.
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