Published on August 1, 2011 by Amy
The legend states that the bear was created to teach strength, wisdom and survival skills to the Ute people. The bear still remains today the tribe’s symbol of strength; and, a reminder of it’s former superiority in war.
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The bear is also believed to posses healing powers and to have the ability to communicate directly with the spirit world.
The morache was originally made from the jawbone of a bear Today, it is usually made from two notched sticks (or a notched stick and a piece of bone) which are then rubbed against one another over a wooden or tin box (the resonator!). The sound made by the morache imitates both the noise made by the bear and the springs first thunder, which is believed to awaken the bears from their winter hibernation. The sticks are sometimes also referred to “growl sticks.”
When the dancers enter the corral, they wear plumes. These feathers represent worries and tensions that have built up over the long, hard winter. So, one of the purposes of the Bear Dance is to help give the dancers an opportunity to get rid of these worries and tensions. At the end of the dance, they hang these plumes on the branch of a cedar tree located at the eastern entrance of the corral. By doing this, it symbolizes the shedding of their psychological burdens.