Reading Notes: Native American Marriage Tales, Part A

Image result for grizzly bear

Wow, what a shock it was when reading these stories. They were different from previous readings, as they really treasured the Native American culture from the older times. I like how these selections were written so long ago, as it gives me a perspective of writing back in the 1920’s and 30’s. One story that really caught my eye was Bear-Woman and Deer-Woman. 

Throughout that reading, I was constantly wondering what would happen next. The writer used very good forms of imagination. The story began with the Grizzly Bear and Doe pounding acorns. They went down to the creek to “leach a meal,” and began to search each others head for lice. I thought that was so random, as they were simply waiting for a meal to soak, why would they search their heads for lice? Anyways, Doe confirmed that Grizzly had no lice. Sneaky Grizzly sprinkled sand in Doe’s hair, and basically said the possibility was strong that she had lice and Grizzly would chew them. Grizzly then bit Doe’s head off and killed her. Grizzly took the head and acorns to the house, and put the head in fire to roast. The Grizzly informed the children that it was only firewood, but one of Doe’s children called Grizzly out, thinking it was Doe’s head. To repay Grizzly, Doe’s children begged the bear cubs to play “smoke-each-other-out.” Of course, the bears were then killed and the fawns took them to the fire and handed them to Grizzly as they were “skunks.” When Grizzly found out, she chased the fawns, begging them to “come back home.” The fawns begged of the crane to stretch his neck so they could cross over the river. The crane stretched and allowed them to pass. When the Grizzly reached the crane, he put his neck across, but twisted when Grizzly was halfway across, leaving Grizzly floating in the river. This story could be re-written in many different ways. I would want to stick with this story if I don’t enjoy one in Part B more, because it’s such a twisted tale like I’ve never heard before. It’s sort of a multiple revenge plot, where the Grizzly is the one who first does wrong and ends up paying the price for it (dead cubs and sinking in the river). I would want to give all of the characters names that fit their personality. I could change the ending to where a different animal plays the key role in paying back Grizzly. I’m not sure exactly what I’d write, but I want to change the plot, but have the overall betrayal/payback the same morality.


Native American Marriage Tales Unit: Tales of the North American Indians by Stith Thompson. This storybook collection can be accessed here.

Picture 1: Grizzly Bear Image Accessed from Wikimedia Commons.


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