Black Bear

by Richard L. Dieterle


Harvey Barrison  

Of the four great Bear Spirits, Earthmaker created Black Bear last of all. The Creator placed him in the south as an Island Weight, where he gives stability to the earth and manifests himself as the South Wind. Black Bear is also the wisest of bears: he can read minds and has "forward knowledge." The Spirit Bear has actually been seen from time to time in the form of a black bear [inset] who comes subtly in the distance to show his loving concern for those of his descendants chosen in his blessings.1 The lineage of the Black Bear among the Hočągara are considered the intellectuals of the clan, and express the spirit of Black Bear by formulating policies to be considered in council by the clan as a whole.2

One worak says that "Black Fur" is the chief of bears.3


Links: Bear Spirits, South Wind, Island Weights, Earthmaker, Red Bear, White Bear, Blue Bear, Were-Grizzlies and Other Man-Bears, Bear, Witches.


Stories: featuring Black Bear as a character: The Creation of the World, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 7); mentioning (spirit) bears (other than were-bears): White Bear, Blue Bear, Red Bear, Bear Clan Origin Myth, The Shaggy Man, Bear Offers Himself as Food, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Grandmother Packs the Bear Meat, The Spotted Grizzly Man, Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, The Woman Who Fought the Bear, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Redhorn's Sons, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Wolf Clan Origin Myth, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The Messengers of Hare, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Red Man, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Two Boys, Creation of the World (v. 5), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Brown Squirrel, Snowshoe Strings, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, East Enters the Medicine Lodge, Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The Spider's Eyes, Little Priest's Game, Little Priest, How He went out as a Soldier, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Trickster's Tail, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Warbundle Maker, cf. Fourth Universe.


Notes

1 Walter W. Funmaker, The Bear in Winnebago Culture: A Study in Cosmology and Society (Master Thesis, University of Minnesota: June, 1974 [MnU-M 74-29]) 14, 61, 65-66. Dr. Funmaker, and his informant, Walking Soldier (1900-1977), are members of the Black Bear Subclan.

2 Walter Funmaker, The Winnebago Black Bear Subclan: a Defended Culture (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota: December, 1986 [MnU-D 86-361]) 49. Informant: One Who Wins of the Bear Clan.

3 Paul Radin, "How the Old Woman Fought the Bears Who Came to Kill the Women Who Had Taken Part in a Feast During their Menstrual Period," Miscellany (American Philosophical Library, ca. 1912) pp. 4, 10.