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The Great Bear






Source: Eskimo Folktales

A woman ran away from her home because her child had died. On her
way she came to a house. In the passage way there lay skins of bears.
And she went in.

And now it was revealed that the people who lived in there were bears
in human form.

Yet for all that she stayed with them. One big bear used to go out
hunting to find food for them. It would put on its skin, and go out,
and stay away for a long time, and always return with some catch or
other. But one day the woman who had run away began to feel homesick,
and greatly desired to see her kin. And then the bear spoke to
her thus:

"Do not speak of us when you return to men," it said. For it was
afraid lest its two cubs should be killed by the men.

Then the woman went home, and there she felt a great desire to tell
what she had seen. And one day, as she sat with her husband in the
house, she said to him:

"I have seen bears."

And now many sledges drove out, and when the bear saw them coming
towards its house, it felt so sorry for its cubs that it bit them to
death, that they might not fall into the hands of men.

But then it dashed out to find the woman who had betrayed it, and
broke into her house and bit her to death. But when it came out, the
dogs closed round it and fell upon it. The bear struck out at them,
but suddenly all of them became wonderfully bright, and rose up to the
sky in the form of stars. And it is these which we call Qilugtussat,
the stars which look like barking dogs about a bear.

Since then, men have learned to beware of bears, for they hear what
men say.





Next: The Man Who Became A Star

Previous: The Man Who Took A Vixen To Wife



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