Native American Tales

How to Scare a Bear

How to Scare a BearHow to Scare a Bear


Long ago, this did not happen. There once lived a rabbit and prickly pears were his favorite foods, but he ate all the ones on his side of the river and asked fast water to carry him over to the other side of the river where there were more prickly pears.

While the rabbit was eating, Bear appeared. He commented on how pretty Rabbit’s necklace was. They arranged to make a bet for each other’s necklaces. They would try to scare each other. The next day was the day of the bet. Rabbit found an old horse bell to take with him. He tied it around his neck and each time he jumped it made a “clank, clank” noise.

Bear made a circle on the ground with a stick and rabbit was to stay inside of it and not move. Bear went off into the woods and sang a little song, but Rabbit knew it was Bear and did not move. Bear actually almost hit Rabbit, but Rabbit still did not move. There was some argument as to whether or not Rabbit had moved, but there were no tracks, so obviously, Rabbit had not moved.

It was then Rabbit’s turn. Bear sat inside of the circle and Rabbit went into the woods. Rabbit put the horse bell back around his neck, which was an unfamiliar sound. He too sang a song, which was unfamiliar. Bear could hear the bell and the song and did not think this was his friend Rabbit. Bear did move and Rabbit got his necklace. If you see a rabbit with a red ring around its neck, it’s descended from this same rabbit.


I don’t know a lot about the rabbits of the southwest because I don’t live there. My family is from Arizona and at times I have heard stories about jack rabbits out there. The thing about wild rabbits is that they’re usually pretty drab looking, even in the Southeast where I live. If a wild rabbit has a distinctive coloring, you’re going to notice it. A reddish band around a wild rabbit’s neck would certainly be noticeable, and, apparently, it was noticeable enough to tell a story about.


A little unfamiliarity can go a long way. People are suspicious of the unfamiliar, and with good reason, sometimes unfamiliar can be very bad. Rabbit just had to make his movements and his sounds unfamiliar and he was able to scare Bear.


This kind of reminds me of the time I told a bunch of scary stories to my friends at a slumber party and then snuck outside and scratched on the window screens and they all screamed. Hilarious.

Weigh In

Do you think you could scare a bear?

Knowing about internet videos of cats scaring bears, do you think a rabbit could scare a bear as well?


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