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The polar bear is little-known among Native American tribes (only the coastal Cree communities live in areas where polar bears are normally encountered in the wild), but they are well-known and of great cultural importance to the Inuit ("Eskimo") people of northern Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. According to Inuit traditions, it was Polar Bear who first taught humans the art of seal hunting. Polar bears are greatly respected for their strength, courage, and spiritual power, and Inuit angakkuit (shamans) frequently call upon the spirit of the polar bear. Like other spiritually powerful animals, polar bears frequently shape-shift into human form and back in Inuit mythology, putting on a white bear coat to take on their ursine form.
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