Published on January 8, 2013 by Casey
This version of the legend comes from William Jones’ 1907 collection of Mesquakie stories, Fox Texts.
It is said that once on a time long ago in the winter, at the beginning of the season of snow after the first fall of snow, three men went on a hunt for game early on a morning. Upon a hillside into a place where the bush was thick a bear they trailed. One of the men went in following the trail of the bear. And then he started it up running. “Towards the place whence comes the cold is he speeding away!” he said to his companions.
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He that headed off on the side which lay towards the source of the cold, “In the direction of the place of the noonday sky is he running!” he said.
Back and forth amongst themselves they kept the bear fleeing. They say that after a while he that was coming up behind chanced to look down at the ground. Behold, green was the surface of the earth lying face up! Now of a truth up into the sky were they conveyed by the bear! When round about the bush they were chasing it then truly was the time that up into the sky they went. And then he that came up behind cried out to him that was next ahead: “O River-that-joins-Another, let us go back! We are being carried up into the sky!” Thus said he to River-that-joins-Another. But by him was he not heeded.
Now River-that-joins-Another was he who ran in between the two, and a little puppy Hold-Tight he had for a pet.
In the autumn they overtook the bear, then they slew it. After they had slain it, then boughs of the oak they cut, likewise boughs of the sumac, then laying the bear on top of the leaves they flayed and cut up the bear; after they had flayed and cut it up, then they began slinging and scattering the meat in every direction. Towards the place of the coming of the morning they flung the head; in the winter-time when the morning is about to appear some stars usually rise; it is said that they came from the head of the bear. And also his backbone, towards the place of the morning they flung it too. They too are commonly seen in the winter-time; they are stars that lie huddled close together; it is said that they came from the backbone.
And they say that these four stars in the lead were the bear, and the three stars at the rear were they who were chasing after the bear. In between two of them is a tiny little star, it hangs near by another; they say that it was the puppy, the pet Hold-Tight of River-that-joins-Another.
Every autumn the oaks and sumacs redden in the leaf because it is then that the hunters lay the bear on top of the leaves and flay and cut it up; then red with blood become the leaves. Such is the reason why every autumn red become the leaves of the oaks and sumacs.
That is the end of the story.