Native American Tales

Keeping Warmth in a Bag

Keeping Warmth in a BagKeeping Warmth in a Bag

Slavey

Before people were made, there was a long winter. All the animals got together to have a meeting. They agreed that the lack of warmth was what was causing such a long winter. They tried to think of a cause and finally decided it had to be the bears because they had not attended the meeting, nor had anyone seen any bears in a while.

Several animals formed a search party to find the bears. The bears lived in the upper world. They went up there through a hole. They found the bears’ hut, but only the bear cubs were there. There were several bags hanging there and they asked what was in each bag. The last bag the cubs wouldn’t say. They said their mother would be angry if they told. The animals told them that they wouldn’t tell their mother. Finally, the bear cubs said that the last bag was the bag with all the heat. The animals made a plan to steal it.

One animal distracted the mother bear by turning into an elk calf. The bear wanted to catch it and invited her cubs. Other animals made off with the bag. They took turns carrying it towards the hole to their world. They barely made it before the bear caught up to them. Once they were in their world, they tore the bag open and all the heat came out. The heat came out so fast that it melted all the ice and flooded the world. The animals took refuge in the large tree that used to grow out of the Earth. A large fish came and drank up all the water and turned into a mountain. Finally, it was summer again.

Observations

Here’s another flood story. What’s up with these bears, always being so close to everything?

Themes

As has been mentioned before, there have been periods in the Earth’s history when things were a lot colder, or a lot warmer, depending on which era you’re talking about. It may have certainly seemed as if someone had taken summer and shoved it away in a bag somewhere. There were winters where winter never seemed to end. This story is simply an explanation of a particularly cold time in the memory of this particular tribe.

Overall

I wonder which mountain that fish is.

Weigh In

Why were the bears in the upper world?

Why were the bears the bad guys?

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