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Bear and Squirrel

This version of the legend comes from Pliny Earle Goddard's 1917 collection Chipewyan Texts.

Bear once said, "There will only be night. In the summer, when the nights are not long, I cannot find anything good to eat. For that reason there shall only be night." Then Squirrel, who was his younger brother, replied, " If there is only night how would you manage to live without being able to see?" "I could find food by smelling it," Bear replied. "But," asked Squirrel, "what would you do if something should stick in your nostrils?" "Oh, I could feel for food with my paw," Bear suggested. " Well, but if you should stick something in your paw, what then?" Squirrel asked. "Why, then I would roll around until I found something," Bear said. "But if something should stick through your body, you would kill yourself," Squirrel warned him. "Well, then, let there be daylight," conceded Bear.

"Come let us have some contests," said Bear. " The one who jumps the farthest will be Bear." Bear won. "Let us see who can jump the highest over a tree," Bear again proposed. Bear won again. " Let us see who can run around this small lake first," Bear said. Because Bear was the larger ( being the elder brother) and Squirrel the smaller, Bear was first to run around the lake. Bear had beaten him each time, but not fairly.

Squirrel, still saying, " I will be Bear," began to cry. His eyes became red and the tears made stripes below his eyes. Finally he said, " I shall not be good for anything. I shall just amuse the children." Then he climbed a spruce and became small.

Bear again spoke, " When there is no other meat, I will be a supply for them." He ran along the side of the world and went inland where he became large.

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More stories to read:

 Native American legends of day and night
 Native American bear stories
 Native American squirrel stories

Learn more about:

 Dene legends
 The Dene language
 Dene Indians

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