White Bear (Hųcskaga)

by Richard L. Dieterle

Spirit Bear

White Bear was Earthmaker's first and greatest creation. He was created not only as a Bear Spirit, but as the North Wind. He was placed in the north quadrant as an Island Weight to bring stability to the primeval earth which spun out of control when it was first created. Because of his priority, White Bear controls this earth and is the source of all knowledge and inspiration. His pure white fur symbolically expresses his special powers of life energy.1 As first in the zoological world, White Bear's spirit makes his subclan the leaders in all matters brought before the Bear Clan as a whole. Therefore too, the Bear Chief is usually drawn from the White Bear Subclan.2

Comparative Material. Among the Cherokee, the chief of the bears is White Bear. Wounded bears go to be cured of their injuries where he lives.3

Links: Bear Spirits, Island Weights, Bear, North Wind, Earthmaker, Were-Grizzlies and Other Man-Bears, Red Bear, Blue Bear, Black Bear.

Stories: featuring White Bear as a character: The Creation of the World, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 7); mentioning (spirit) bears (other than were-bears): Blue Bear, Black 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, Hocąk Clans Origin Myth, The Messengers of Hare, Bird Clan Origin Myth, The Hocąk 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.

Polar Bear

Themes: something is of a (symbolic) pure white color: Deer Spirits, The Journey to Spiritland (v. 4), White Flower, Big Eagle Cave Mystery, The Fleetfooted Man, Thunderbird and White Horse, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, Worúxega, The Two Boys, The Lost Blanket (white spirits), Skunk Origin Myth, He Who Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, A Man and His Three Dogs, The Messengers of Hare, The Brown Squirrel, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, Bladder and His Brothers, White Thunder's Warpath, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Dipper, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Creation of the World (v. 12), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, The Descent of the Drum, Tobacco Origin Myth (v. 5), The Diving Contest, Otter Comes to the Medicine Rite, The Arrows of the Medicine Rite Men, The Animal Spirit Aids of the Medicine Rite, Grandmother's Gifts, Four Steps of the Cougar, The Completion Song Origin, North Shakes His Gourd, Lifting Up the Bear Heads, Thunder Cloud is Blessed, Peace of Mind Regained.


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]) 13, 59, 65. Dr. Funmaker is a member of the Hocągara tribe. His informant was Walking Soldier (1900-1977), a member of the Bear Clan.

2 Walter Funmaker, The Winnebago Black Bear Subclan: a Defended Culture (Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota: December, 1986 [MnU-D 86-361]]) 48. Informant: One Who Wins of the Bear Clan.

3 "The Four-Footed Tribes," in James Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (Asheville, North Carolina: Bright Mountain Books, 1992 [1891/1900]) Story 15, p. 264.