Grizzlyman as a Preform of Blue Bear

by Richard L. Dieterle

Grizzlyman or The Kneeling Rattler
Hieronymous Rowe

Table of Contents

§1. The Kneeling Rattler as a Grizzly Supernatural.
§2. Blue Bear — Grizzlies, Mounds, and the Priesthood.
§3. Grizzlies and the Deer's Head.
§4. Calendar Sticks, Blue Bear, the Pleiades and Maize.
§5. The Prehistory of the Hočąk Bear Subclans.

§1. The Kneeling Rattler as a Grizzly Supernatural. The Grizzlyman pipe bowl, also known as "The Kneeling Rattler" on account of the supposed rattle held in his left hand,1* was made of the red flint clay originating in the Cahokia region, and probably dates from the late XIth or XIIth century.2 However, the pipe bowl, which measures 23.4 cm high, 14.5 cm wide, and 17.1 cm in length, was not found in Cahokia, but at the distant site of Spiro, Oklahoma, where it was unearthed from Burial 99 in Craig Mound.3 As Emerson notes, the sculpture was not originally a pipe bowl, "This is partly evidenced in the execution of the drilling of the off-center hole in the back of the head and the fact that the object's form is not designed to include pipe stem and bowl holes."4 This means that the figurine was a religious sacrum, which implies that it was an object associated with worship, and that it represented a particular deity.5

As to the nature of this god, Brown nicely summarizes the Received Opinion:

Yet to be placed into a particular cycle is the power that I have called "Grizzlyman."6 The sole exemplar of this deity is a figurine of red claystone from Spiro converted into a pipe.7 The Braden style is unmistakable. This figurine combines features of dwarfism (the hunched back and enlarged head with prominent bossing on the sides of the forehead)8* with an open, gap-toothed, snarling mouth and a pair of hair-knots that Richard Zurel has shown to be signature markers of the grizzly bear in frontal view.9 What is relevant here is the presence of a naming symbol in the figurine composition: the deer head is clasped in its left had. This kenning for "deer head" or tapa’ is the name for the Pleiades.10 Here we have a deity that resides in or more plausibly embodies the constellation itself. The combination of body features and deer head suggests some sort of arch-shaman.11

The presence of a slain deer in the scene connects to the idea that the figurine may be a little person. The little people in a number of northwestern Siouan tribes are spirits of the hunt, most particularly tied to the arrow. Such are the Awakkulé of the Crow,12 the Ga-da-zhe of the Omaha,13 the Iktomi of the Sioux,14* and the two tribes of Arrow Spirits found among the Hočągᵃra, the Héroka ("Without Horns") and the Little Children Spirits.15 Nevertheless, these spirits are not dwarves, but usually assume the form of miniature versions of normal people. It may be appreciated that the figurine is of normal size when compared to the deer head, even if it is that of a fawn. Furthermore, the scene lacks any reference at all to the bow or arrow which typically serves as their iconic representation. Nor does it appear that the sculpture depicts a dwarf. Achondroplasic dwarves are characterized by an enlarged head, short limbs, and by a high incidence (25%) of kyphosis (hunchback).16 The figurine shows both megacephaly and what may be kyphosis, but lacks the primary signature trait of dwarves, the shortening of the limbs. Therefore, the figurine shows neither a dwarf nor an Arrow Spirit. Consequently, the achondroplasic attributes must derive from some other source.

A Grizzly with a Pronounced Roach

According to Brown, Zurel had shown (in a work neither published nor accessible) that the odd hair knots at the top of the figurine's head were signature markers of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). Such an identity could explain the two remaining achondroplasic features. Since the grizzly bear's head is more massive than that of a human being, it would be appropriate for a spirit in anthropomorphic guise to somatically express his spiritual essence by having a larger than normal head. Also the peculiar protrusion of the lower lip seen in this carving is often an expression seen in grizzlies,17* although it must be noted that they do not have the gapped teeth seen in the sculpture.18* The want of knowledge of their skulls and dentition may be due to the rarity of Grizzlies east of the Mississippi..19 The kyphosis of the figure, its hunchback, does match one of the defining features of the grizzly bear. On the upper back of this bear, above the scapulæ, is found a great mass of muscles that forms a hump.20 This is covered by a mane known as a "roach,"21 giving rise to the grizzly's nickname, "roach-back."22 These humps vary greatly from one individual to another, but are found in some degree in all brown bears (of which grizzlies are a subspecies). This would explain the hump found on the back of the figurine, although its position would have to be rationalized as artistic license (like the teeth).

The artifact in the right hand of Grizzlyman has been described as a "fringed object."23 The hand seems to disappear into as if it were like a glove, making the fringe an extension of the fingers. This is not the only figurine displaying such an object. One is a highly weathered pipe "dubiously identified" as Mother and Child;24 and an apparently unfinished composition "holding a ... festooned (?) object or a cluster of streamers in the right hand."25 In the context of Grizzlyman, the possible function of this object will be discussed below.

Another odd feature of this sculpture is the use of the left hand to handle the primary object of interest in the composition: the deer head. Originally, archaeologists thought that the deer head was a rattle. However, what is of immediate interest is the fact that the object is held in the left hand. This may not be an insignificant detail. Among the Hočąk Bear Clan, the clan totem is honored twice a year with a special feast. The first of these is held at the appearance of the First Bear Moon (January), and the next feast is held at the beginning of spring when the bears come out of hibernation. To honor the bear, they eat in darkness, consuming only those foods that bears prize the most such as maple sugar and blueberries. And, oddly enough, they are commanded to eat using only their left hands.26 What could left-handedness have to do with bears? A clue to this is found in a little scherzo of an episode in the story of Shaggy Man.

Then the Shaggy Man shot a great thicket of arrows at the bears standing about, and many were felled. The inhabitants of the bear village scattered in every direction. There was an orphan bear who lived at the edge of the village. As he hurriedly tried to put his moccasins on, he put them on the wrong feet. So ever after the feet of bears have been turned out the wrong way.27

The reversed moccasins express an odd fact about bears: its feet turn out instead of inward. This creates a rather odd looking foot and track, as though the paws were switched. Therefore, the right arm of the bear terminates in a left hand, so the only way to eat at the Bear Feast is to employ one's left hand, since for a bear that hand is paradoxically on the right and correct side of his body. In keeping with this explanation, the Kutenai call Grizzly Bear, "Left-Handed One."28 That Grizzlyman grasps the prized object in his left hand is therefore merely in keeping with his ursine nature.

§2. Blue Bear — Grizzlies, Mounds, and the Priesthood. The Bear Clan is also known as the "Soldier Clan," since its overall function is to supply "soldiers" (mą́ną́pe-ra) to the body politic. The mą́ną́pera are considered warriors par excellance, but their precise role is that of tribal security. As policemen, they make arrests, execute sentences (both capital and corporal), rescue victims of crime, guard public property, supply security at meetings, regulate the order of the communal hunt, and generally protect and defend life and property.1 In their capacity as internal warriors, they were even called upon from time to time to combat unseen supernatural foes like disease. For this purpose they performed a kind of dance in which the clan evoked its curative powers.2 However, one of their most important functions was the control of the land. Foster, one of our earliest sources (1850-51), tells us that the Lower Moiety was divided into two parts, the Quadruped Family, and the Water Family. The Waterspirit Clan controlled the water, and the Bear Clan the land.

[The] arrogance of the Thunders, however, is retorted back upon them whenever it comes to any dispute as to the disposal or occupancy of land; as the making of treaties to sell land, or even the making choice of camping grounds; when the Earth Totem, the head of which is the Bear Family, will give those of the Thunder Family to understand, that they must stand back and concede to the former the first place and consideration. ... In making treaties the Thunders are the speakers, etc. and are the chief warriors and peace makers; but must consult in treaties for the sale of land with the Bear or Quadruped Family, and the Water Family.3

It is clear from numerous sources thereafter, that the governance of the land was solely the province of the Bear Clan.4 It is therefore not surprising to find the Bear Clan bound up with the theology of the cardinal points.

It is universally agreed that the Hočąk Bear Clan was founded by one or more of four Bear Spirits, who themselves were created directly by Earthmaker. There is also agreement on the colors of three of them: red (šuč), blue (čo), and white (ska). The remaining one is anomalous, some sources saying that he is black, others that he is zi, a color that ranges from orange through yellow to brown. In an ursine context, "brown" seems like the best translation. The Bear Subclans are four in number, and each corresponds, if not literally founded by, one of these four brothers. The four primordial Bear Spirits are presented as Island Weights and the sources of the cardinal winds.5 This competes with the scheme in which the world, conceived as an island, is anchored by four Waterspirits or perhaps four Spirit Serpent. When Earthmaker fashioned the earth, he did so from on high, imparting through the inherent holiness of his creative process, a spinning motion to his creation as he cast it below. The progenitors of the Waterspirit Clan, the chiefs of the Water (and some say, the whole of This World), were charged with anchoring the Earth to stop its spin. Others say that those charged with the function of maintaining the grounds, the Snake Clan, could clam that their totem animal sewed the earth fast with their tubular bodies. The essence of the Bear Clan's function as police is to keep proper order within the territory of the nation. Therefore, since the earth was originally out of its proper order, it will have fallen to the rectifiers to correct it, and therefore theologically, it is reasonable to suppose that the four Bear Clan progenitors (or their counterparts) were charged with bringing stability and order to a world spinning out of control. Consequently, the four Bear Spirits occupy the four cardinal points whence they impart stability to the world. From there they control the winds, another lawless element of nature.

They map out onto the cardinal directions in this way:

White Bear
Red Bear
Blue, Gray
Blue Bear
Black Bear
Black, Yellow/Brown

It may be appreciated that these four Island Weights correspond to the four Bear subclans. Some of the complexities involved with the subclans will be addressed later, but suffice it to say, that like the clans themselves, each one of these subclans has its own particular function. The information that we have on the Bear subclans comes from Dr. Wally Funmaker who was the Culture Bearer for the tribe, and whose own affiliation was with the Black Bear Subclan.6 Members of his subclan were considered intellectuals, and had the role of advising on clan policy. The chief of the Bear Clan is usually chosen from the White Bear Subclan. This is because White Bear took the lead in founding the Bear Clan, and by virtue of his youth, possessed the greatest drive and energy. Red Bear was the second spirit bear that Earthmaker created, and has special charge over the maintenance of the earth. He is spirit chief over the brown bears. His color is that of the setting sun, reflecting the purpose of Earthmaker, who placed him in the west to be a gatekeeper of the Great Beyond. The Hočąk Red Bear Subclan, who have a special relationship to him, express his spirit by taking charge of disciplinary functions and acting as sergeants-at-arms at councils, as well as help prepare the clan for war. Blue Bear (Hųčoga), who is the spiritual original of the mąčo, or grizzly bear, was the third of the great Spirit Bears created by Earthmaker. The fur of the grizzly is made of hairs that vary in thickness and color so that he is described variously as "blue" (čo) or "gray" (xoč). Blue Bear has control over the days, which explains why he is sometimes described as being gray or even polychrome: for days change from sunny to stormy and many states in between, and so run the gamut of the color spectrum. It is because of Blue Bear's power over the days that some of those who are blessed by him can "hold the day" and ensure good weather for sacred gatherings.

The Blue Bear group are the Bear priests. They perform and practice the healing arts in clan ceremonies. This group also is the sun watchers who provided direction for the planting and hunting cycles for the tribe. They kept a stick calendar on which events of solstices, equinoxes, eclipses, and the seasons are marked. The Blue Bear priests are associated with the study of the heavens, the sun, and the moon. Their altars were located on high bluffs or hills overlooking fields or water.6.1

A story in Radin's collection tells us that Blue Bear rules over the Spiritland of bears generally, and "therefore" (ésge) over the Spiritland of the Bear Clan.7

The revelation that the Grizzly Bear Spirit of the Hočągᵃra, Blue Bear, governs the Otherworld fate of all bears and even the bear-men of his lineage, and that he controls the instruments of time (the sun and calendar sticks), and most of all, that those descended from him are priests whose altars are set upon high elevations, almost automatically sets in place a valuable piece in the puzzle of Cahokia. The Bear Clan controls the fate of the land, so that it cannot be altered or disposed without their consent and direction. If this has been the clan function for nearly a millennium, then the erection of artificial hills in the service of religious expression, would have fallen under the authority of the Bear Clan, and given the religious purpose to which the great mounds were to be devoted, the Blue Bear Subclan of priests would have been intimately involved. This great span of history (1050-1985) is a long time for subclan functions to remain static, yet there is also no reason to think that changing environments need have altered such functions at all. The figurine called "Grizzlyman" was a sacred icon of an unknown ursine deity. Now we see a vivid connection to a known deity of the Hočąk nation, much as we have also seen long before a connection between the prosopic maskettes and the Wi-Chi [Winnebago-Chiwere] deity, Wears Man Heads on His Ears (Redhorn). The fit between Grizzlyman and Blue Bear represents a good correspondence, certainly no less striking than that between the "Resting Warrior" figurine and Redhorn. If Blue Bear's preform were an important deity at Cahokia, and if his lineage had the functions that they recently possessed, then it will have fallen to him and his priests to determine everything that pertained to the erection of mounds. A vague memory of this still exists. It comes from the Lost Notebook of W. C. McKern, recently recovered by his successor Nancy Lurie.

So they [the primordial Bear Spirit brothers] went on until they came to the Red Banks. That is where the Thunder Band came and sat perched on the limbs of a white oak tree. Then the leader of the Thunder Band said to the bears, "Fix for us a place that we may come down from this tree and live on the earth." It was then that they saw a rainbow. The leader of the Bear Band then pointed to the rainbow. Then he said, speaking to the Thunder Band, "You should always live under that rainbow. We shall always help you people." Then the bears fixed a place on the earth so that the Thunder Band could come down and live there. It was a mound which they made for the Thunder people to live on. Then the bears made a mound upon which they themselves might live. "Now we shall live with you and take care of you people for all time," they said to the Thunder Band. "Who are you people?" inquired the leader of the Thunder Band. "You should call us Čónąke, that will be our name," said the bears.8

The Thunderbird Clan is the chief's tribe, and as the police, the Bear Clan is their most important instrument of authority. Yet the Bear Clan had complete control over the physical land. As we see in this episode, it was they who built the mounds not only for themselves, but on behalf of the chief. This is, as we saw in Foster's remarks from 1851, a power that they had over the chief himself. The divine Thunders are associated with the dark clouds that can cover the face of Day, an opposite power to that of the Grizzly Bear Spirit, Blue Bear, who has the power to check this, and hold in abeyance the dark clouds and the cardinal winds that propel them across the azure dome. So these two clans exemplify a constitutional check and balance against one another. Čónąke is an old name for the Bear Clan, deriving from čo, "blue, green"; and nąké, "the back of the human body"; however, it has a charming ambiguity, since it can also be analyzed as čo-nąk-ge, "the sort that sits in the blue," a reference to the sky. By virtue of its vegetation, the earth is green-backed, and when the dome of the sky is considered, it is also blue-backed. In the story, "The Woman Who Fought the Bear," two young women defile the Bear Feast by eating the sacred food while menstruating. In retaliation, a Spirit Bear emerged from an underground spring covered in blue mud. He killed both women before their mother killed him. To say that he was covered in blue earth is to make a pun, since means, "earth," and čo, "blue," forming a homonym with mąčo, the word for grizzly. In Grizzlyman, we see a nude figurine save that he wears a cape, perhaps to emphasize one of his defining features, the special covering associated with his back. Even his grizzly hump must recall the mounds whose construction would have fallen to the supervision of the Bear Clan.

The effigy mounds found in Hočąk territory were thought by them to have some kind of religious significance, as we see from a story in which a man goes to pray for a blessing from the Waterspirits by setting up next to a Waterspirit mound, one which still stands there today.9 The Hočągᵃra claim historical memory of having constructed the mounds that dot their country in Wisconsin,10 but this is almost certainly a feedback loop based on Radin's initial published conclusions.11 Sources prior to Radin say that the Indians knew nothing of who built the mounds, although they had various opinions as to their purpose.12 Our earliest source reports that the Hočągᵃra believed that the conical mound at Butte des Morts near Neenah contained the bodies of great chiefs, and in 1828 they conducted a brief commemorative rite at its summit.13 Artificial mounds and natural mounds, such as small hills, form a religious continuum that recalls Eliade's "Cosmic Mountain," a center and special place of communication between world levels.14* Certain natural mounds are said to house spirits. Bears can supernaturally emerge from mounds at the behest of those blessed with the power to summon them.15 Waterspirits typically live in mounds,16 as does the Great Doe, the supernatural chieftainess of deer.17 The Twins ended their career by retiring to a hill.18 Redhorn is particularly associated with Red Hill (Necedah Mound), where his body once roamed headless down its winding trail. There fasters have been blessed by Redman.19 His son's charges, the Little Children Spirits, can be approached from inside a certain cave.20 It is even said that in front of the Otherworld lodge of the Chief of the Thunders, there is a small mound on top of which lies a warclub.21 McKern says that the Thunder Clan set up in the center of the camping circle, with the chief's lodge situated (like its otherworldly paradigm) next to a mound.22 In the Warbundle Feast, such a mound serves as an altar upon which the Warbundle is placed.23 Tobacco is not thrown into the transformative fire, but placed instead on this altar as an offering to the appropriate deities.24 During this feast, a man who has dreamed of (been blessed by) a Buffalo Spirit creates an "idol" for the Buffalo Dance that is to follow.25 After the previous day's feast, early in the morning,

Then the house is cleaned out, and a mound of new dirt is placed in the altar place, and four red feathers, indicating the cardinal directions, are placed about the mound. Then buffalo heads, tails, or other fetishes are placed on the mound.26

In the Buffalo Dance Rite, two miniature mounds, "truncated cones," are constructed inside the dance lodge. These are called mąnuserek, "cut through the earth."27 Each of the large number of women participating in the dance,

brings in a handful of fine earth and in this way two mounds are raised in the centre at the east ... An old man said to me, "That is the way all mounds were built; that is why we build so for the buffalo." ... The two mounds remind one of larger structures and suggest many speculations, particularly when taken in connection with the manner of their building. ... The history of earth symbols is not yet clearly understood, and it is to be hoped that students will carefully observe these strange relics of customs which were once, perhaps, on a grander scale.28

In recent times, when Little Priest was to be cured, a Grizzly Bear dance was performed for which a mound, called a mą-wárupuru,29* was built in the middle of the lodge. Little Priest, the last war chief of the Hočągᵃra, believed that he was a reincarnated grizzly bear. As he lay there seriously wounded, they sang Grizzly Bear Songs for him that he might obtain the xop (supernatural power) of the grizzly.

In the middle of the room there was a mound. The second time he went around it walking faster. The third time he danced a little as he went around. Now then, the fourth time he danced hard around it. He came back to the middle of the room, put his hand on the mound, and rubbed all his wounds. There he was healed, but only on the back was it not quite well, so he reached it with great effort to make it well. So in the morning the Indians danced the Victory Dance.30

This mound is similar to an altar, but more powerful in its efficacy, perhaps due to its more intimate connection to the Grizzly Spirit. Its earth even partakes of the Soldier Clan's power to fight disease and disability. In myth two brothers go to the top of a hill where, like the priest of the Blue Bear Subclan, they have constructed a mound-altar, and there they are able to transform themselves into grizzly bears.31

With the appearance of giant, Huastec-like, conical mounds in Cahokia, effigy mound construction came to what appears to be an abrupt end. Pauketat offers a way of making sense of this sudden transition.

... there is as much reason to argue that the Gottschall inscriptions mark a transregional redistribution of causal powers and a reframing of citational referents. ... They also include the widely known "intrusion" of southern Mississippian (read, Cahokian) people into Wisconsin at well-known locations such as Aztalan, where novel earthen pyramids, architectural styles, and objects superimpose an earlier landscape of effigy mounds.32 Finally, and possibly most significantly, effigy mound construction appears to have been terminated at or shortly after 1050 CE in most places.33 From that point onward, descendants of the effigy mound builders would have inhabited a landscape of mute monuments and spirits that, through Cahokian or Mississippian places (monuments, architecture, and artwork), cited southern referents.34 ... From that point of view, the end of effigy mound construction was a consequence of the decoupling of the old practices from their referents and their enchainment to new referents, those of a foreign founder's cult centered at a distant place (Cahokia) where the powers of wa-kan-da were being gathered. The effect was to dissolve effigy mound building in Wisconsin.35

We know that these effigy mound builders were not Winnebago-Chiwere (Wi-Chi), that proto-tribe was without doubt located somewhere to their south, which is to say, in northern Illinois. The Ioway, according to their own testimony in oral history, broke off from the main tribe when they were situated on the Rock River in Northern Illinois.36 On the west bank of the Mississippi, just 60 miles to the north of Cahokia is Picture Cave, whose most striking pictograph is of the Wi-Chi god Wears Faces on His Ears (Redhorn, there in his guise as Hérokaga) and the Central Siouan deity White Plume.37 In ca. 1600, part of the Dhegihan proto-tribe, the Omaha-Ponca-Quapa, occupied an area around the Wabash and Ohio Rivers.38* This places them to the east at a very late date. Linguistic studies show that in the distant past the Wi-Chi and the Dhegiha also formed a single tribe (or at least a people speaking the same language). The sudden cessation of effigy mound building with the rise of the massive conical mounds of Cahokia seems like an electric effect. The most obvious explanation is that the electricity was provided by the Wi-Chi people occupying the land in between. Lack of cultural continuity in this area may not be relevant, since the Dakota and Lakota are respectively Woodland and Prairie tribes, even though they are both branches of the Sioux nation. Although the Hočągᵃra are a Woodland people, a photo from the early XXth century shows one of their villages in Illinois made up entirely of teepees.

According to Wally Funmaker, just like the world as a whole, the traditional boundaries of the Hočąk lands are marked by great Waterspirits. One of them is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri.39 This same spot, Cahokia essentially, is where Trickster had his last meal on earth before ascending to heaven.40 So the Hočągᵃra had viewed Cahokia as the southern boundary of their lands. The Hočągara had told Radin that they once lived in a village "that at one time was so long that those at one end did not know what was transpiring at the other."41 Radin initially dismissed this contention as mythological, but as Lurie tells us,

As he [Radin] became increasingly aware of the evidence of the precontact culture and its southeastern affiliations, the idea of the big village did not seem so far fetched, but entailed new problems of chronology that Radin was still trying to clarify right up to the time of his death. The name of Red Banks on Green Bay is popularly attributed to the presence of reddish clay there but appears to have been the last and perhaps least of a series of villages carrying that name. Some, if not all, were stockaded. Although there was near total consensus and detailed information among Radin's informants that the big village of Red Banks was on Green Bay, he collected a few brief references to various other locations named Red Banks farther west, one even on the Mississippi. He was eventually convinced that old memories of a really large village were combined with those of later settlements housing most of the tribe's diminishing numbers until the eighteenth century when they split up into smaller units across southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois.42

The legendary homeland of the Hočąk nation is called Red Banks (Mógašúč). This place is now identified with a site near Green Bay, but some Hočągᵃra assert that this has varied over time. Jack Monegar's account of what his grandfather had told him, while full of confusions and exaggerations, has many interesting points.

When I was young my grandfather mentioned a lot of stories, and a lot of them are myth and legend. But this one story concerns this here [Aztalan] and possibly Cahokia Mounds. Where we come from, he said, a long time ago, we built pyramids and he said we built palaces. He said we were good at it. ... He said we had leaders that could talk to God; they were spiritual leaders besides the chief. We were the first Indians here and covered the whole state at one time or another. Whereever there is a big lake where there is red earth there are Ho-Chunk graves. Mogashuc is not just one place, there's Mogashuces all the way to Duluth.43

Monegar's grandfather, Tom Brown, belonged to the Bear Clan. If the Wi-Chi can be connected to the religious fluorescence at Cahokia, as it seems that they can, the sacred carving called "Grizzlyman" could be easily understood as the deity of the mound building Blue Bear priesthood, his statuette fashioned from the bauxite found at the red banks of the Mississippi at St. Louis.

§3. Grizzlies and the Deer's Head. In the sculpture, the kneeling figure seems to have his left knee resting on the ground while his left hand grasps the head of a deer. As we have seen, both the Omaha and Osage call the Pleiades Ṭa-Pá, "Deer Head." It is possible to use philology to gain some insight into the origin of this designation. Hočąk is not of much help here, and although they too see this star cluster as part of the body of a deer, they have it switched backwards. They call the Pleiades Ča-Šįč, "Deer Rump."1 Not too long ago, however, it was recorded among the Lakota, who belong to the third branch of Central Siouan, that they recognized a vast constellation that runs from Sirius to the Pleiades which they call, Ta-yamni. It is said to represent a ta, which is usually translated as "buffalo."2 Buechel first recorded its identity in the XIXᵀᴴ century, but he thought the relevant sense of yamni might be, "relative, kinsman."3* However, given its relationship to the ta, it immediately becomes obvious that it has a cognate constellation among the Dhegiha. They have an asterism called Ṭa Thabthiⁿ, which means "Three Deer." The Dhegiha thabthiⁿ is precisely cognate to the Lakota yamni, both meaning "three." Their first syllables are also cognate. The old meaning of the Common Central Siouan *ta is "deer," the Lakota having at least partially transferred it to the buffalo,4* since the latter displaced the woodland deer as the primary big game animal for those who moved on to the plains. The Dhegiha Ṭa Thabthiⁿ occupies three stars in Orion,5 and therefore falls within the expanse covered by the Lakota Ta Yamni. The Lakota divide this large constellation into sub-asterisms. Orion represents the ribs of Ta Yamni, Sirius the tail, and the Pleiades the head. Thus, Ta Yamni Pa is one of the Lakota names for the Pleiades,6 which would match the Dhegiha perfectly, except that it is "Three Deer's Head," rather than just "Deer's Head." If the Lakota model of Three Deer was earlier, it would explain how the Pleiades came to be called "Deer Head." The Dhegiha shortened the Three Deer asterism to its most prominent element, disconnecting it from its original head, whose designation changed from the original "Three Deer's Head" to the shortened "Deer's Head." This would establish Three Deer as a possible Common Central Siouan constellation with the Pleiades as its head, called "(Three) Deer's Head." The Hočąk version is probably a folk etymology, since the Pleiades don't particularly look like a deer head, but do look like the white tailed deer's rump. That a single constellation could be called "Three Deer," while representing only one animal, makes Hall's suggestion that it represents a Central Mexican calendar name (3-Deer = Yei Mazatl) rather more likely than not.7 Whether this constellation was disseminated among the Central Siouan tribes in the past, or whether it was Common Central Siouan, it could certainly have had the requisite antiquity to serve as the referent of a symbolic Cahokian deer head.

Some archaeologists believe that the head is a rattle, although for our purposes it hardly matters, since it is the symbolism of the deer head that is of interest. Nevertheless, a rattle would be appropriate to represent a star cluster. In Hočąk mythic symbolism, light is often represented as sound. The deer head rattle, as it lifts off the ground, symbolic of rising with the sun (the symbol of which is in the right hand), can then make noise, which is to say, light. When it lay in the earth (having set with the sun), it was quiet, which is to say, invisible. As a rattle it contains multiple sound making elements, just as the star cluster contains many points of light. What remains mysterious is why a grizzly supernatural would have any kind of special relationship with an asterism that is by name associated with deer.

What does a close look at the Pleiades cycle tell us about how this star cluster relates to bears? One of the best known facts about bears is that they undergo a kind of pseudo-death by entering into hibernation.

Grizzly bears generally do not feed, urinate, or defecate during "winter sleep." According to Folk et al.,8* this qualifies as a true state of "hibernation" more highly evolved than that observed in small mammals.9*

This "shut-down" process mimics death all the more, since bears disappear underground by entering into a den, just as though they were dead and buried. It is the timing of this quasi-death that is of particular interest.

... grizzly bears inhabiting the contiguous United States generally ... enter dens between mid-October and mid-November, and emerge between late March and early May."10

Den entry for females began during the fourth week in September, with 90% denned by the fourth week of November. Earliest den entry for males occurred during the second week of October, with 90% denned by the second week of December. ... Earliest den emergence for males occurred during the first week of February, with 90% of males out of dens by the fourth week of April. Earliest den emergence for females occurred during the third week of March; by the first week of May, 90% of females had emerged.11

This timing is generally consistent, except at the extremes of their range. These facts correlate reasonably well with heliacal cycle of the Pleiades, as can be seen on this table.12

The Altitude of the Pleiades during the Termini of the Bear Hibernation Cycle
Date in 1054 Altitude @ Sunset Altitude @ Sunrise
Oct 16 -3° 57' 19° 0'
Oct 19 -2° 36' 16° 8'
Oct 22 -1° 13' 13° 17'
Oct 25 0° 14' Achr Rise 10° 28'
Oct 28 1° 44' 7° 40'
Oct 31 3° 16' 4° 54'
Nov 3 4° 53' 2° 11'
Nov. 4 5° 26' 1° 17'
Nov 5 5° 59' 0° 23' Achr Set
Nov 6 6° 33' -0° 29'
Nov 7 7° 7' -1° 22'
Nov 9 8° 17' -3° 6'
Nov 12 10° 5' -5° 38'
Nov 15 11° 54' -8° 6'
Date in 1055 Altitude @ Sunset Altitude @ Sunrise
March 25 34° 57' -12° 55'
March 28 32° 6' -11° 52'
March 31 29° 16' -10° 47'
April 3 26° 26' -9° 40'
April 6 23° 37' -8° 31'
April 9 20° 48' -7° 21'
April 12 18° 1' -6° 8'
April 15 15° 16' -4° 54'
April 18 12° 31' -3° 37'
April 21 9° 49' -2° 18'
April 24 7° 8' -0° 56'
April 26 5° 22' 0° 0.2' Heliacal Rise
April 29 2° 46' 1° 27'
May 2 0° 12' Heliacal Set 2° 56'
May 5 -2° 18' 4° 29'
May 8 -4° 44' 6° 4'
May 11 -7° 6' 7° 43'
May 14 -9° 24' 9° 26'

The one quadrant in which the Pleiades do not appear is the north, governed by White Bear. The Pleiades are a southern star cluster, and therefore fall for a time within the quadrant of Black Bear ~ Brown Bear. In the south they find their highest altitude at ca. 72°. However, they neither begin nor end their sojourn within his jurisdiction. This table shows how, over the course of time, the Pleiades are handed off from one quandrant to another.

Date Time Altitude Azimuth Bear ()
1054 April 26 (Heliacal Rise) 05:01:41 0° 7' 62° 52' East
45° - 135°
1054 July 27 05:00:20 66° 54' 134° 57'
1054 July 28 05:01:15 67° 33' 137° 20' South
135° - 225°
1054 Aug 24 05:26:21 67° 10' 224° 7'
1054 Aug 25 05:27:16 66° 29' 226° 26' West
225° - 315°
1054 Nov 5 (Achronical Set) 06:40:06 0° 23' 296° 53'
1054 Oct 25 (Achronical Rise) 05:02:48 0° 14' 62° 58' East
45° - 135°
1055 January 20 17:17:27 66° 28' 133° 30'
1055 January 21 17:18:35 67° 10' 135° 55' South
135° - 225°
1055 February 17 17:48:18 66° 55' 224° 59'
1055 February 18 17:49:20 66° 13' 227° 19' West
225° - 315°
1055 May 2 (Heliacal Set) 18:27:25 0° 12' 297° 4'
1054 Aug 11 17:10:22 72° 20' 179° 59' South
135° - 225°
1054 Oct 29 23:59:46 72° 18' 183° 2'
1054 Dec 15 20:51:03 72° 20' 180° 0'
1055 Feb 4 17:30:32 72° 20' 180° 0'

The transit table shows that when the Pleiades transited during the hours of darkness, they were found almost exactly due south. At dawn the Pleiades rise with Blue Bear on April 26, and by July 28, they have passed over to Red Bear (via the south). At sunset on October 25, 1054, they achronically rise in Blue Bear's quadrant, and via the south, they pass over to Red Bear at sunset on February 18, 1055. What's important is that the heliacal dates all fall within the quadrants of either Red Bear or Blue Bear. These two Bear Spirits have interlocking functions. Blue Bear governs the Spiritland of grizzlies, and also of the Bear Clan; Red Bear governs the western gate to Spiritland (like a kind of St. Peter). The Pleiades rise in Blue Bear's realm, once achronically within the time that grizzlies go to their dens; and again heliacally within the time that bears leave their dens. Red Bear sees the same correlation, only they heliacally and achronically set in this same time period. That the two deities concerned with admittance to Spiritland should also govern the times at which bears enter and leave their dens, as measured by the Pleiades, makes a nice theological match with their function, since hibernation represents an image of death. In fact, no doubt, it is this correlation that led to their having been assigned this function in the first place. Under this theological order, the figurine might have depicted either Red Bear or Blue Bear, but his grizzly features make Blue Bear the more likely candidate. When bears go to their dens, the Pleiades come to ground in the west just as they appear in the realm of Blue Bear; and again when bears emerge from their dens, they leave Red Bear and appear in the domain of Blue Bear. It is as if the Pleiades, representing bears, die in the west only to emerge shortly in the eastern celestial world of Blue Bear. Thus bears and their human counterparts of the Bear Clan, first pass through the gate of Red Bear, then into the celestial paradise of Blue Bear. It is as if Blue Bear controlled the coming and going of bear souls as they disappear (in hibernation) from this world only to reappear just when the floral world is also resurrected in the spring, the season of Blue Bear. When the Pleiades are against (achronical to) Hąp (Sun = Light-and-Life), the grizzlies disappear; when they are with (heliacal to) Hąp, the grizzlies are resurrected.

One succinct way of putting the relationship between the asterism and grizzlies, is that the Pleiades are near the ground when the bears are either going to ground or coming out of it. They either enter or leave this state of quasi-death when the Pleiades are in the realm of Blue Bear. The coming to ground of the Pleiades is defined in terms of the annual cycles of the sun in relation to this asterism. This may give us an insight into the significance of the odd glove-like, semi-circular fringe covering Grizzlyman's right hand. The fringe radiates downward from a central sphere, touching the ground upon which Grizzlyman kneels. The heliacal rising of the Pleiades in the quadrant of Blue Bear is defined by their coincidence on the horizon with the rising sun. The radiant artifact in Grizzlyman's right hand touches the ground at the same time as the deer head. If the Deer Head represents the Pleiades, then the radiant object on the ground with them at the same time, would have to be the sun. Why would a Bear Spirit control the sun? As we have seen, Blue Bear and his descendants control Hąp, "the Day." They are able to guarantee the ascendancy of the sun and hold in abeyance the winds that bring forth the rain-bearing clouds. This is a power attributed to ordinary bears, and to those who have been blessed by bears to have this power.13 Thus we find this affirmation among the Grizzly Bear Songs:

Newinéna, newinéna, Hąpjąne.
I am he, I am he, the Day it is I.14

When this ritual is successfully performed, the day is said to be "held" (in English), an expression of manual symbolism. Therefore, it is appropriate that this idol of Blue Bear should control a solar symbol with his right hand, since Blue Bear and his priests possess the power to hold the very light of Day, as though he had grasped the sun in his hand.

The Sun and the Pleiades, 1054 May 15
As Viewed from the West,
with East between the Pleiades and the Sun,
North to the Left of the Sun
Hieronymous Rowe and Starry Night Software

This explains its radiant and circular structure, as well as its placement. The viewer stands with west behind him, east nearly straight ahead, north to the left behind the right buttock, and south opposite in the direction that the figure is looking. Given Deer Head's situation, Grizzlyman is facing south, the direction in which the Pleiades move, that is, in mythological terms, the direction in which Blue Bear hands off the Deer Head to Black ~ Brown Bear. The Pleiades had come from below the purple horizon line, which is to say, the west, where the viewer is standing in Red Bear's quadrant.

The Gilcrease Pipe15

The radiant or festooned object in the right hand of the Grizzlyman figurine has at least two other counterparts. One is so badly weathered that little can be made out of its details.16 The other, the Gilcrease Pipe, while not in perfect condition, has many interesting details which can still be discerned.

The second pipe (Gilcrease Institute) depicts a crouching figure holding a bulbous object (the rattle) in its left hand and a festooned (?) object or a cluster of streamers in the right hand. The pipe is incompletely sculptured. ... Parallel scratches have been made on the right side of the face, which has been bisected by a deep medial incised line running from the nose up over the head to the back of the neck. Scratches appear also on the right side and on the left arm.17

This figure does not have any obvious ursine features, yet its rattle and radiant artifact elements pair it with Grizzlyman. It is characterized by one very deep incision line running from its nose to the back of its head. It would seem to indicate a somatic bifurcation. This is the salient feature of one of the most important of Hočąk gods, Hošere’ų́wahira, "Disease Giver." Although Disease Giver has the form of a man, his body is divided into two halves, one of which dispenses life, and the other death. Prayers are addressed to Disease Giver that he might turn away his death side and face the speaker only with his life side, which has the power to cure any disease.18 However, if the figurine is holding the day in his right hand, then he ought to be a Bear Spirit. As we have seen, the Bear Clan had a special role in curing disease, and therefore would have some affinity to Disease Giver. As it happens, something very similar to what we hear of Disease Giver is also said of the Bear Clansman's body, as we see in this Bear Clan origin myth:

In the direction of the coming sun, the chosen spirits build a long house to discuss the matter of mortals. The Earth-Maker wanted to populate the earth, that was the issue. The Earth-Maker was ready to put a bear on earth who was already headed in the direction of the earth. As he appeared the winds died down and the day stood still. You must remember that the day deity is a man. The Earth-Maker had endowed the bear with great power and this is why the day stood still and the winds ceased to blow. As he headed towards the Creations Council, over his head was a halo of lightning and thunder. At the place of creation stood a tree sapling. In a thunderous disturbance, the sapling was struck by lightning. There stood this bear. The bear was met by the Spirit of Warfare (Wonáǧire Wąkšik ?) and they greeted each other as close friends. This is why one side of our body is a warrior and the other chief.19

Bear clan members feel they are people with dual personalities coded in the colors of red and white. The white side of each personality is the sacred part which allows them to function in the capacity of earth priest. As Bear clan members become older, their white element becomes more prevalent, leading elders and subclan leaders to emerge from this older generation of Bear clan members. It is these people who possess the strong bear medicine that confers the ability to cure illness and to exert control over meteorological events for ceremonial purposes. ... The red side of the Bear clan personality reflects the militant values that deal with maintaining disciplinary order within the tribe. Red is the symbolic quality of bearness which concentrates on the basic emotion of anger and destructiveness of Bear clan members. The psychological connotation ascribed to the color red is that it is a non-human quality symbolic of death or of the animal side of man. He is unable to mediate between the red and white sides of his personality.19.1

It is likely that at an earlier stage in the evolution of this concept of ursine duality, which in many ways is still inherent in it, the two sides possessed the power of life/hąp (white) and death (red), just as we see in Disease Giver.20* In the figurine, the rayed artifact represents the Day (Hąp) which he can hold, in this case literally; and the line bifurcating his head, represents the two sides of his body. Since the right side is identified with the positive things in life, it can be expected to house the powers of Life, and it is in his right hand that we find the solar symbol. With respect to this, we find something of interest in the fact that the right side of his face has a series of parallel lines inscribed on it. We have seen such lines at Picture Cave in the Redhorn Panel, where they apparently depict light shining on the face. Given the secondary meaning of the word Hąp, "Life," the sun lines would then represent the power of life residing in that half of the body. (The other scratches do not appear to be sun lines.) The gourd rattle in his left hand, the presumed death side, also has a correspondent in myth. In that tale, a white spirit bear possesses a burnt gourd rattle. Whoever possesses this rattle need only shake it at a bear's tracks, and it will fall over dead.21 This should remind us of the Deer Head rattle, whose star group demarcates the time during which bears experience the pseudo-death of hibernation.

Čižąhaka Holding a Calendar Stick  

§4. Calendar Sticks, Blue Bear, the Pleiades and Maize. The primordial Spirit Bears policed the world from the very beginning of time, halting the uncontrolled spinning of the earth, and taking command over the amorphous, invisible, and uncontrolled winds that find their origins in the distant quarters of the world. Like the wind, the invisible forces of disease were also within the bounds of the Bear Clan to control, so that their bodies, like that of Disease Giver himself, had a side devoted to the dispensing of Life. They had some control over Hąp, "Light, Day," but metaphorically, "Life." Because they could control the winds to some degree, Bear Clansmen could "hold the Day (Hąp)," and keep the light unobstructed in the sky for a period of up to four days. Since the sun rose in the quadrant of Blue Bear, those over whom this god was patron had the greatest skill in this power. The other side of the Bear Clansman's body held the powers of chieftainship. This was not chieftainship over the whole tribe, that was the function of the Thunderbird Clan, but an absolute rule over the earth itself. As we go through the door opened by Redhorn, and explore the Hočąk role at Cahokia, the importance of the governance of the ground itself assumes great importance, not only in the matter of building mounds out of soil, but of determining when crops may be introduced into it. This is where the function of controlling the sun's light and controlling the earth meet. The other important function of the Blue Bear Subclan was the keeping of time for the precise purpose of determining when crops should be planted. For this purpose, a calendar stick was used.

In the recently recovered Lost Notebook of W. C. McKern (1927), we are told (272) that the keeping of the calendar stick was unique to the Bear Clan. Its use at that time was to keep track of the progress of a woman's pregnancy. The stick was started by the chief of the Bear Clan, then "passed down to those appointed to assume such duties." The time was recorded in the five phases of the moon (new, half, three-quarter, full, dark), but McKern was not able to view such a stick, so the actual markings used were not known to him. (271) However, there exists an old painting of the calendar stick of Čižąhaka,1* which he had in hand when he visited Washington with the Hočąk peace delegation in 1828.2* This artifact was given to the Cranbrook Institute in 1918 by a Mrs. Whitebear,3 whose name, in any case, suggests her husband's clan. It is clear that his calendar stick was a lunisolar recording device used to keep track of more than a woman's pregnancy. Yet more sophisticated calendars may have been in the possession of the ancestors of the Blue Bear Subclan in ancient times. For the Blue Bear priesthood the old function of time tracking was for the regulation of the planting cycle, perhaps hinted at in the Čižąhaka painting by the sprig of bloom attached to the top of his stick and painted on his right cheek (somatic asymmetry).

A maize ("corn") crop is very sensitive to the time at which it is planted. A study in Iowa4 showed that over a long span of years, 1981-2000, a crop planted on April 23 gave a higher yield than crops planted later. However, in more recent years, 1997-2000, the greatest yield was seen in the crop planted on May 5. Later planting dates showed a significant loss in yield. Therefore, failure to put in the crop at the right time could result in a serious loss in the volume of food at harvest time. This is all the more important for large Mississippian towns. It may be observed that the earlier optimal planting time of April 23 had moved on to May 5 as temperatures increased. At the initial fluorescence of Cahokia, the climate was on the down side of the heat curve that marked what is called the "Medieval Warm."5* As they started to come out of this period with the advent of the XIIth century, the temperatures were roughly equivalent to those of our own time. So the optimal planting season ran from ca. April 23 to May 5. It may be seen from the table above that the earlier date corresponds to the achronical rise of the Pleiades, and the later date to the helical setting of the Pleiades in the west. So the optimal planting season corresponded exactly to the period in which the Pleiades are transferred from Red Bear in the west to Blue Bear in the east. This makes it crystal clear why Grizzlyman receives the Deer Head from the ground, and why the priesthood of the deity who governs grizzly bears, those who are in charge of the earth itself and the time of planting, are of paramount importance to communities who depend heavily on a strong yield of maize. When the Pleiades come to ground, it is time to put in the maize crop, and those charged to make that determination in detail are the priesthood of Blue Bear, chief over the earth's grizzly bears. The role of the priesthood of this Grizzly Bear Spirit must have loomed greater in the past than in recent times. If this somewhat atavistic priesthood extends into the deep past, there can be little doubt that Grizzlyman is a preform of their grizzly god, Blue Bear.

§5. The Prehistory of the Hočąk Bear Subclans. Today the four subclans of the Bear Clan generally trace their origins to one or the other of four Bear Spirit progenitors, each representing a different kind of bear. However, not every account of this clan's origins agrees with this scheme. On this point, the conflicting traditions imply that not all of them have come down from a very distant past unrevised. According to one linguistic study, in pre-Columbian times the Hočągᵃra and the Chiwere tribes (the Ioway, Oto, and Missouria) formed a single proto-tribe.1 Comparing the clan organization of these two closely related families can be revealing. They all have functional clans organized into two moieties. The moieties show wildly divergent clan membership, which strongly suggests that moieties have been rather fluid over the years. However, despite the divergence in moiety formation, the clans of the four tribes remain in a fairly straightforward correspondence, as can be seen from this table:2

Proto-tribe Hočągᵃra Missouria Oto Ioway
Bird Clan(s):
Thunderbird Thunderbird Thunderbird "Thunderbird, Eagle, etc." Eagle & Thunderbird
Eagle Eagle Eagle
Hawk or Owl Hawk Hawk Hoot Owl Owl
Pigeon Pigeon (Rúčge) Small Bird (Mó-mi) Pigeon (Rúxča) Pigeon (Ruča)
Other Clans:
Black Bear Bear Black Bear Black Bear Black Bear
Wolf Wolf (no data) Second Bear (who howl like wolves) Wolf
Buffalo Buffalo (no data) Buffalo Buffalo
Elk Elk-Deer Elk Elk Elk
Beaver Waterspirit (no data) Beaver Beaver
Snake Snake-Fish (no data) Snake Snake

Whitman's myths speak of two Bear Clans, the second of which howl like wolves when someone of the other clan dies.3 The closeness of the Hočąk Bear and Wolf Clans is well known, suggesting that the Oto Second Bear Clan replaced or evolved from a Wolf Clan (thereby matching the Ioway and Hočągᵃra). The Hočąk Deer and Fish Clans were probably subclans of the Elk and Snake respectively. These clans remain very close to one another even today. The Elk Clan in all of these tribes had the function of waiters, especially in ritual and for the chiefs. The Hočąk Waterspirit Clan has a Beaver subclan,4 and many of its clan names make reference to the beaver (1, 2). Both the Oto and Ioway show a strong association between the Thunderbird and Eagle Clans. This was once the situation among the Hočągᵃra as well.

However, when we come to the Bear Clan, a substantial disagreement presents itself. The Hočągᵃra have a Bear Clan, but the Chiwere have in its stead a Black Bear Clan. When we look to the next most closely related language group, the Dhegiha Sioux, we find that they too have specifically a Black Bear Clan. It is not impossible that the Hočągᵃra have simply been the most conservative tradition in this respect, but the fact that the Dhegiha also diverge in the same way as the Chiwere, makes this unlikely. There also exist a number of other internal indications of this ancient state of affairs which we can glean from different versions of the Bear Clan Origin Myth. Many of them say that the four primordial founding spirits first took the form of a kaǧi (raven, crow), quite obviously a black bird (Versions 2a and 3). When Turtle calls for a warpath, the kaǧi answer as "soldiers (mąnąpera) wearing very black clothes."5 The term mąnąpe is reserved for members of the Bear Clan. A kaǧi is usually found in Bear Clan warbundles where it imparts the ursine spirit of strength in running.6 Version 7 of the Bear Clan Origin Myth describes the eldest of the four founding bears as having the name "Black." Version 5 says that the progenitor of the Bear Clan was born in the south, which in other sources is the quadrant of Black Bear. The chief over all bears goes by the name "Black Fur."7 We thus find traces of a black bear being chief of all bears, that a founding black bear was the eldest, and that bears of all colors at one point had metamorphosed from black birds. This internal circumstantial evidence points to an original Black Bear Clan in Hočąk prehistory.

Just one subclan has its own origin myth. Not by coincidence, this turns out to be the Black Bear Subclan. They say that some time roughly around 1630, the original Black Bear Subclan had been rubbed out. This made it necessary to start a new subclan. In order to refound the subclan, they had to pick someone with no prior clan affiliation. It chanced that a Potawatomi had married into the tribe, so they picked him as the subclan's new progenitor. They imputed to him an origin among the Nightspirits, the natural spiritual affinity of this subclan. They gave him the name Fourth Universe, since he was to found the fourth of the subclans. All subsequent Black Bear Subclansmen are descended from Fourth Universe.8

If the proto-tribe, the Wi-Chi, had a Black Bear Clan, and the Hočągᵃra later had just a Bear Clan, then at some time in history, the Hočągᵃra must have innovated, reorganizing the old Black Bear Clan into a new Bear Clan, preserving the four colors of the bears. However, the ancient Black Bear Clan would hardly have had a Black Bear Subclan. The latter could not claim special descent from the black bear, since the whole clan was of that descent. We can appreciate at this point that the odd alternance in color schemes between sep (black) and zi (brown) shows us what the original colors had been: white, red, blue/gray, and brown. These are all variations found in the coats of black bears in nature.9* Now that the reorganized clan represented the four subspecies of all bears, one of these had to be the black bear.

What led to this substantial reorganization of the old Hočąk Black Bear Clan? Given the extensive wars in the early XVIIth century,10 it may well have been an historical fact that the old Brown Black-Bear Subclan had been rubbed out.

When the origins of the Bear Clan are told, most accounts state that just one of the brothers was selected to found the clan (Versions 1, 2a, 4, 5, 7). The most attested model is that the Bear Clan was founded by the youngest of the four primordial Bear Spirit brothers alone, who was, by recent accounts, White Bear, although it is clear that in the past this role was played by Black Fur. The new Black Bear Subclan could not even claim descent from this original progenitor of the old Black Bear Clan, and the myth persisted that it corresponded to a founding Bear Spirit who was zi in color (Versions 11 and 12). Subsequently, this will have been revised to sep (Versions 4, 7). In Version 4 of the clan foundation myth, for instance, Earthmaker picks just one bear to be the progenitor of the clan, and his three other brothers who were left behind, "asked to be remembered of him." One way in which they are memorialized (Version 7), is in the birth order names given to boys in the Bear Clan.

This one, the first one, his name this will be it: the name for the oldest, the first, if he is a man, a male, they will call him by the name, "Very Black," they will address him. And they will call the second one "Yellowish Red" (Wa-zi-ga). The third oldest they shall call by the name "Blue Bear." The name of the fourth oldest they shall call "White Bear."11

This sequence exactly replicates the birth order and names of the founders of the four subclans in Version 4. The four subclans are each named after one of the brothers. So why are they not universally named as founders of the subclans? We see among the "Bird Clan," as the upper moiety is collectively known, a similar odd relationship of correlation but not descent. The Bird Clans stop short of claiming actual descent by saying that the four progenitors of their clans, although not Thunderbirds themselves, were brought down from the heavens each by a particular Thunderbird. We see this in the founder of the Thunderbird Clan, Blackhawk, who clearly corresponds even in name to the divine chief of the Thunderbirds, Great Blackhawk. The Thunderbird Clansmen form the chief's clan, just as do the Good Thunderbirds of the celestial realm; the Bad Thunders find special affinities with the Hawk Clan, both characterized by a reckless warrior spirit. There is an obvious affinity between the supernatural Blue Bear and the clan that carries his color. This was the model adopted for the Black Bear Subclan, whose members believe that from time to time Black Bear appears on earth to check on the well-being of the Black Bear Subclansmen with whom he has a special relationship. Therefore, whether the founder of the Blue Bear Subclan was once a black bear supernatural or his counterpart, it remains true that on the same model as that of the Bird Clan, there is a special relationship between the supernatural bear of the same color, and those who are "remembered of him." The Blue Bear Subclan has probably had a special relationship with the chief of the grizzlies since time immemorial.

We have one story that suggests that Blue Bear once had a very prominent place among the Bear Spirits as well as within the Bear Clan. In Version 8 of the foundation myth, Blue Bear is also called "Blue Chief" (AoKo ttAo K = Hųkčoga), and here we now have five fraternal founders. This produces a scheme in which Blue Bear is in the center, the position of the chief.

Earth Quaker
Gives Forth Fruit as He Walks
Blue Bear
Earth Shaker
Makes the Day Tremble

Here he is chief of the Spiritlands for both bears and Bear Clansmen. We should not be surprised that the subclan of priests, controllers of the Day, markers of time, and the overseers of the building of earthen pyramids, were once the most powerful of the Bear subclans. If the predecessors of the Hočąk nation had participated in the affairs of Cahokia, it would have fallen to the priesthood of the Blue Bear Subclan to have constructed the mounds allotted to their nation. As we have seen, if we understand Grizzlyman's deer head to be the Pleiades, given the course and timing of the Pleiades at that period, it perfectly explains the relationship of functions between Blue Bear in the East and Red Bear in the west as respectively the governor of the souls of bears, and the gatekeeper to the Beyond. The myth that places Blue Bear in the role of chief is the last echo of the time when the subclan in whom he was remembered played perhaps the most crucial construction role in the great religious project that was Cahokia. In the recent past, there remained more than an echo. Tom Brown, a traditionalist member of the Bear Clan, once took his grandson Jack Monegar to the Mississippian site of Aztalan in southern Wisconsin.

When I was young my grandfather mentioned a lot of stories, and a lot of them are myth and legend. But this one story concerns this here [Aztalan] and possibly Cahokia Mounds. Where we come from, he said, a long time ago, we built pyramids and he said we built palaces. He said we were good at it.12


On an independent page.

Version 1.3