Grandmother Packs the Bear Meat (§6 of the Hare Cycle)

retold by Richard L. Dieterle


Hare took Grandmother with him to help pack home the bear meat. When they got there, Hare asked, "Grandmother, can you carry the head?" "I am not a warrior and I did not make the kill, so it would not be right for me to carry the head," she insisted. Hare said, "How about carrying the hind end?" "How can I carry his hindquarters with my back being the way it is?" she said. "Will you be willing to carry the ribs, then?" Hare asked. "If I do that, I'm sure my own ribs would grow long," she replied. Then she began to sing:

Grandson, that I will pack,
Grandson, that I will pack!

and she started to dance. Nevertheless, he let her pack the hindquarters. She led the way, but after awhile, she turned off the path and went her own way. She went up to the top of a hill and slid down it with her pack using a deerskin that she had brought with her. When she finally got home, she told Hare another story: "Grandson, I went through a village and there some young men took my pack from me and used it as a ball. I was only able to get it back because one of your friends got it for me. That's why it is so dirty." "Ah," said Hare, "would that be my friend Gišoknuxgiga?" "Yes indeed it was grandson," she said. However, there was in fact no such person — Hare was just testing her to see if she was lying. Then Hare said, "We should each cook for ourselves." So they cooked their meat separately and had plenty of fat to eat1


Commentary. ...


Comparative Material: The Omaha have a story that is very similar, except that Grandmother carries the hindquarters of Black Bear on her back. It concludes in almost exactly the way that the Hare Kills Wildcat concludes, only it is the blood of the black bear (rather than the wild cat) that Hare splashes on his grandmother to cause her to menstruate.2


Links: Hare, Earth, Bear, Bear Spirits, The Sons of Earthmaker.

Links within the Hare Cycle: §5. Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, §7. Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads.


Stories: featuring Hare as a character: The Hare Cycle, Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Necessity for Death, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Hare Acquires His Arrows, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, Hare Kills Wildcat, The Messengers of Hare, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Hare Kills Flint, Hare Kills Sharp Elbow, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads, Hare Visits the Blind Men, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane, Hare Burns His Buttocks, Hare Gets Swallowed, The Hill that Devoured Men and Animals, Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Grandmother's Gifts, Hare and the Grasshoppers, The Spirit of Gambling, The Red Man, Maize Origin Myth, Hare Steals the Fish, The Animal who would Eat Men, The Gift of Shooting, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, The Coughing Up of the Black Hawks, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, The Petition to Earthmaker; mentioning (spirit) bears (other than were-bears): White Bear, Blue Bear, Black Bear, Red Bear, Bear Clan Origin Myth, The Shaggy Man, Bear Offers Himself as Food, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, 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; featuring Bear as a character: Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, Bear Offers Himself as Food, Hočąk Clans Origin Myth, The Hočąk Migration Myth, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans; featuring featuring Grandmother Earth as a character: Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Maize Origin Myth, Grandmother's Gifts, Owl Goes Hunting, Hare and the Grasshoppers, Hare Acquires His Arrows, The Plant Blessing of Earth, Hare Visits the Blind Men, Hare Visits His Grandfather Bear, Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads, Hare Burns His Buttocks, Hare Gets Swallowed, Hare Kills Wildcat, Hare and the Dangerous Frog, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, Hare Recruits Game Animals for Humans, The Necessity for Death, Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Hare Steals the Fish, Hare Kills Sharp Elbow, Hare Kills Flint, The Gift of Shooting, The Creation of the World, The Creation of Man (vv 4, 6), Hare Establishes Bear Hunting, Redhorn's Father (?).


Themes: bear people eating with their left hands: Bear Clan Origin Myth (introduction), The Woman Who Fought the Bear; gluttony: The Big Eater, Sun and the Big Eater, Grandfather's Two Families; someone who is otherwise fearless is deeply afraid of just one thing: Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins (a turkey), The Brown Squirrel (a red horn); a creature boasts that he is afraid of nothing, only to reveal later that he fears (a certain) arrow: The Brown Squirrel; handling a thunder weapon adversely affects bystanders: The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Hare Acquires His Arrows, The Stone that Became a Frog.


Notes

1 Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 98-100. Paul Radin, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (New York: Schocken Books, 1956) §9, pp. 71-72. The original Hočąk text is missing, but the English translation of Oliver LaMère is preserved in Paul Radin, "The Hare Cycle," Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3851 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, n.d.) Winnebago IV, #1: 45-48.

2 Welsch, Omaha Tribal Myths and Trickster Tales 35-36.