The Were-Grizzly

narrated by Charlie Houghton

translated by Oliver LaMère


Hočąk-English Interlinear Text


(108) There was a town, a really big town, and once a man was lost. And so now all the men hunted for him very hard. But they could discover nothing about him. Again at another time another one was again lost. So they hunted again, but they could discover nothing about him. (109) "Why are we thus?" they said. Kará! then, werakírakuni, again another one was lost. Thus, since one was lost, they hunted very hard. Again they could discover nothing about him. "We do not know why this is or why we are thus," they said. And so the fourth one was lost. And so now all the men hunted very hard. (110) Again they discovered nothing about them.

In the evening they came by the old woman's lodge. Kará! this man's head, werakírakùni, was in back of her lodge. So now they ran from there, and they got to the chief's house. There they told it. "Hehé! the old woman is doing it, she is killing us." And the chief said, (111) "Are you telling the truth?" "Yes indeed, we saw the heads." And he gathered them together: "Yes, go and kill her. She is an evil spirit, a worthless one, that is why she does it," the chief said, they say. And so four warriors, one had a knife, one a small axe, one a spear, and one a warclub, now went forth. (112) When they arrived, they went inside, and one said, "Grandmother, this day you will die," he said. "Why will I die?" "You killed four men here, and so you will die." "Hąháo!" she said. And so they grabbed her and stabbed and struck her. Werakirakúni! then she became a grizzly bear. (113) The old woman instead killed them, all four of them, and now the old woman went to town, killing everyone but her granddaughter only did she spare.

In the evening, she put them all together in a lodge there. Thus she did, and she boiled two fat ones. When they were well done, she did much eating, all winter she ate people. (114) In time she ate them up and when the real spring time came, she said, "My granddaughter, this evening I will eat you," she said. Now it was evening. "Carry some water for yourself," said the old woman, and so the little girl carried water. "And build up the fire a lot," she said, and so she built up the fire. (115) Just as she was going out, there two men were coming there. The little girl said, "Grandmother, two men are coming." "Yes, and so sit down, I will eat them instead." And they came in. "Why, grandmother, did the town move and leave you behind?" "Yes, why did they do it?" (116) "I don't know anything about why they did thus to you." "I don't know what they say about this that they are saying. I was about to eat my own granddaughter, but instead I'm going to eat you," the old woman said. "Ho! that you won't do. My friend, get a hold of the other side of her." The old woman now made herself into a gray grizzly bear. (117) She cried out very much, but they split her in two. They killed her, and the men said, "Yes, my sister, eat the little girl, eat!" they said. And they said, "We bless you is the reason, and so we came," they said. And, "You will go over to this side. There is where your relatives are," he said. (118) Wairakírakuni, the old woman, the one who did it, again lived a little while, and she said, "I will kill you. Yes my brothers, I've gone through hardship." "Hohoho!" they said. There these men appeared. Again they killed the old woman.

And now in the morning they went home. (119) Her relatives were living there where they were going. "Werakírakuni, I came back." "How is the old woman?" And [she replied], "They killed her, and so I came back." "Really and truly you say?" "Yes indeed!" And so now again the people became very thankful. Her uncle was sick. At that time she made him well. And the little girl said, "Two men blessed me," she said. (120) And so in her way of hunting, she was the same as the men. They lived very well. Thus it was.1


Commentary. Paul Radin has the following note at the top of page 119: "The people are supposed to [have] come out of the ground."


Links: Were-Grizzlies and Other Man-Bears, Bear Spirits.


Stories: featuring were-bears as characters: The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Spotted Grizzly Man, Brass and Red Bear Boy, Partridge's Older Brother, Turtle's Warparty, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, The Roaster, Wazųka, Porcupine and His Brothers, The Shaggy Man; mentioning grizzly bears: Blue Bear, Brass and Red Bear Boy, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Spotted Grizzly Man, The Meteor Spirit and the Origin of Wampum, The Roaster, Wazųka, Little Priest's Game, The Story of How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Migistega's Magic, The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, The Two Boys (giant black grizzly), Partridge's Older Brother, The Chief of the Heroka, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Dipper (white grizzly), Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Creation of Man (v. 9), The Creation of Evil, cp. The Woman Who Fought the Bear.


Themes: head hunting: White Fisher, Big Thunder Teaches Čap’ósgaga the Warpath, A Man's Revenge, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Little Priest's Game, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, Young Man Gambles Often, Morning Star and His Friend (v. 2), The Dipper, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Porcupine and His Brothers, Turtle's Warparty, Ocean Duck, The Markings on the Moon, Wears White Feather on His Head, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Man with Two Heads, Brave Man, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Redhorn's Sons, Fighting Retreat, The Children of the Sun, Heną́ga and Star Girl, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Winneconnee Origin Myth; cannibal were-grizzlies: The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother, The Roaster, Were-Grizzlies and Other Man-Bears, Partridge's Older Brother; anthropophagy and cannibalism: A Giant Visits His Daughter, Turtle and the Giant, The Witch Men's Desert, Grandfather's Two Families, The Roaster, Redhorn's Father, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Lost Blanket, Young Man Gambles Often, White Wolf, The Shaggy Man, The Twins Get into Hot Water, Partridge's Older Brother, The First Fox and Sauk War, The Fox-Hočąk War, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, Morning Star and His Friend, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Seven Maidens, Šųgepaga, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Shakes the Earth, The Stone Heart, Thunder Cloud is Blessed; a woman abuses someone with whom she is living: Partridge's Older Brother, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Quail Hunter, Snowshoe Strings, The Red Man, The Chief of the Heroka, Bluehorn's Nephews, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Bluehorn Rescues His Sister, Old Man and Wears White Feather; a human turns into a (spirit) animal: How the Thunders Met the Nights (Thunderbird), Waruǧápara (Thunderbird), The Dipper (hummingbird), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (blackhawk, owl), Elk Clan Origin Myth (elk), Young Man Gambles Often (elk), Sun and the Big Eater (horse), The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, Partridge's Older Brother (bear), The Woman who Loved her Half-Brother (bear), Porcupine and His Brothers (bear), The Shaggy Man (bear), The Roaster (bear), Wazųka (bear), The Spotted Grizzly Man (bear), Brass and Red Bear Boy (bear, buffalo), White Wolf (dog, wolf), Worúxega (wolf, bird, snake), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (buffalo), The Brown Squirrel (squirrel), The Skunk Origin Myth (skunk), The Fleetfooted Man (otter, bird), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (otter), The Diving Contest (Waterspirit), The Woman who Married a Snake (snake, Waterspirit), The Omahas who turned into Snakes (four-legged snakes), The Twins Get into Hot Water (v. 3) (alligators), Snowshoe Strings (a frog), How the Hills and Valleys were Formed (v. 3) (earthworms), The Woman Who Became an Ant, Hare Kills a Man with a Cane (ant); someone kills his own kinsman: The Chief of the Heroka (wife), The Red Man (wife), Worúxega (wife), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (wife), Bluehorn's Nephews (mother), The Green Man (mother), Waruǧápara (mother), Partridge's Older Brother (sister), The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother (sister), Crane and His Brothers (brothers), White Wolf (brother), The Diving Contest (brother), The Twins Get into Hot Water (grandfather), The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter (daughter), The Birth of the Twins (daughter-in-law), The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle (daughter-in-law), Snowshoe Strings (father-in-law).


Notes

1 Charles Houghton, A Story about a Female Were-Grizzly, trs. by Oliver LaMère, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3892 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago III, #11a, Story 28: 108-120 (38-51).