Native American Stars Legends: Musquakie – Chasing the Bear

Published on January 8, 2013 by Casey

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Musquakie - Chasing the Bear
Musquakie – Chasing the Bear

Native American Stars Legends: Musquakie – Chasing the Bear

An American Indian Legend – Nation Unknown

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They say that once, a long time ago, it was early winter. It had snowed the night before, and the first snow still lay fresh on the ground. Three young men went out to hunt at first light. One of them took his little dog, Hold Tight, with him.

They went along the river and up into the woods, where they came to a place on the side of a hill where the shrubs and bushes grew low and thick. Here, winding among the bushes, the hunters found a trail, and they followed it. The path led them to a cave in the hillside. They had found a bear’s den.

“Which of us shall go in an drive the bear out?” the hunters asked one another.

At last the oldest said, “I will go,” and he crawled into the bear’s den. With his bow he poked the bear to try to drive him out. “He’s coming! He’s coming!” the man in the cave called to his companions.

The bear broke away from his tormentor and lumbered out of the cave. The hunters followed him.

“Look!” the youngest of the hunters cried, “See how fast he’s going! He’s heading for the north, the place from whence comes the cold; that’s where he’s going!” And the hunter ran to the north hoping to turn the bear and drive him back towards the others.

“Look out!” shouted the middle hunter, “here he comes! He’s going to the east, to the place where midday comes from!” And he ran towards the east, to try to turn the bear and drive him back towards the others.

“I see him!” cried the oldest hunger, “He’s going to the west, to the place where the sun falls down. Hurry, brothers, that’s the way he’s going!” And he and his little dog ran as fast as they could the west, to try to turn the bear back.

As they hunters ran after the bear, the oldest one looked down. “Oh,” he shouted, “there is Grandmother Earth below us. This bear is leading us into the sky! Brothers, let us turn back before it is too late!”

But it was already too late; the sky bear had led them too high. At last the hunters caught up with the bear and killed him. The men piled up maple and sumac branches, and on the pile of boughs they butchered the bear. That is why those trees turn blood-red in the fall.

Then the hunters stood up. All together they lifted the bear’s head and threw it away towards the east. Now, early on winter’s mornings a group of stars in the shape of the bear’s head can be seen low on the horizon in the east, just before daybreak.

Next the hunters threw the bear’s backbone away to the north, and if you look north at midnight in the middle of winter you will see the bear’s backbone there, outlined in stars.

At any time of the year, if you look at the sky, you can see four bright stars in a square, and behind them three big bright stars and one tiny dim one. The square of stars is the bear; the three running behind him are the hunters, and the little tiny one that you can hardly see is the little dog, Hold Tight.

Those eight stars move around and around the sky together all year long. They never go in to rest like some of the other stars. Until the hunters catch up with the bear, they and the little dog will never rest.

That is the end of that story.

Source: firstpeople Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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