Native American stories about the brown bear
Creatures of all kinds hold an intriguing mark in Native American history. These creatures were respected and honored for their courage and strength. Animals were symbolized as a spirit guide. With all life there is a beginning and the brown bear in Native American history represented this as the symbol of motherhood. The bear is revered as a strong and courageous protector.
The bear was used to bring understanding to seasons. The seasons were the indicator of life and how the earth would react to the bear's existence. When the bear would wake in spring, so would the earth and the life in it. During hunting season in the fall the blood of the brown bear would cause rain and change of color upon the trees leaves. When the bear slept the earth became cold and desolate.
Many tribes celebrated the practicality and temperance of the brown bear by using the totem to represent the tribe or an individual. If the bear were the totem animal it would mean the bear would accompany you during life and death. Uniting the courage, strength, will power, and perseverance of the bear with the individual's characteristics.
Legends were also built around the bear. The Cherokee Legend tells the story of an AniTsaguhi tribe who was led into the woods by a young boy and slowly were transformed into bears and changed their tribe name to Yonv meaning bears. The Lassik Tribe legend is "Bear Woman and Deer Woman", about two women one a bear the other a deer both married to Chickenhawk. The tale is of how Grizzly bear devoured the other wife Doe and was killed by Crane. "The Bear Who Married a Woman" is one of many folktales of humans marrying bears.
Tales of bears symbolized freedom and the unity of the animal and human spirits. The character of the brown bear as been crafted artistically for over a thousand years, although, used for food, clothing and jewelry the bear was feared and venerated.
- Arctic Region
- Subarctic Region
- California Region
- Northeast Woodlands Region
- Great Basin Region
- Plateau Region
- Northwest Coast Region
- Plains Region
- Southeast Region
- Southwest Region
- Alpha Tribal Listing
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