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The Origin Of Bears

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#1 Spirithawk


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Posted 08 September 2008 - 07:31 PM

Thought you all might enjoy this. I told the story long ago and someone asked what the bear song was so I've included it this time.

This is what I was told as a boy.....In the long ago time, there was an Ani Kituhwagi (Cherokee) Clan call the Ani-Tsâ'kahï , and in one family of this clan was a boy who used to leave home and be gone all day in the mountains. After a while he went oftener and stayed longer, until at last he would not eat in the house at all, but started off at daybreak and did not come back until night. His parents scolded, but that did no good, and the boy still went every day until they noticed that long brown hair was beginning to grow out all over his body. Then they wondered and asked him why it was that he wanted to be so much in the woods that he would not even eat at home. Said the boy, "I find plenty to eat there, and it is better than the corn and beans we have in the settlements, and pretty soon I am going into the woods to say all the time." His parents were worried and begged him not leave them, but he said, "It is better there than here, and you see I am beginning to be different already, so that I can not live here any longer. If you will come with me, there is plenty for all of us and you will never have to work for it; but if you want to come, you must first fast seven days."

The father and mother talked it over and then told the headmen of the clan. They held a council about the matter and after everything had been said they decided: "Here we must work hard and have not always enough. There he says is always plenty without work. We will go with him." So they fasted seven days, and on the seventh morning al the Ani-Tsâ'kahï left the settlement and started for the mountains as the boy led the way.

When the people of the other towns heard of it they were very sorry and sent their headmen to persuade the Ani-Tsâ'kahï to stay at home and not go into the woods to live. The messengers found them already on the way, and were surprised to notice that their bodies were beginning to be covered with hair like that of animals, because for seven days they had not taken human food and their nature was changing. The Ani-Tsâ'kahï would not come back, but said, "We are going where there is always plenty to eat. Hereafter we shall be called Yonv ,bears, and when you yourselves are hungry come into the woods and call us and we shall come to give you our own flesh. You need not be afraid to kill us, for we shall live always." Then they taught the messengers the songs with which to call them and bear hunters have these songs still. When they had finished the songs, the Ani-Tsâ'kahï started on again and the messengers turned back to the settlements, but after going a little way they looked back and saw a drove of bears going into the woods.


He ! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä'.
Tsistuyi' nehandu'yanû, Tsistuyi' nehandu'yanû--Yoho' !
He ! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä'.
Kuwâhi' nehandu'yanû', Kuwâhi nehandu'yanû--Yoho' !
He ! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä, hayuya'haniwä'.
Uyâ..ye' nehandu'yanû', Uyâ..ye' nehandu'yanû'--Yoho' !
He ! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä, hayuya'haniwä'.
Gâtekwâ'(hï) nehandu'yanû', Gâtekwâ'(hï) nehandu'yanû'--Yoho' !
Ûlë-..nû' asëhï' tadeya'statakûnï' gûnnage astû'tsïkï'.


He! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä'.
In Rabbit Place you were conceived (repeat)--Yoho' !
He! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä'.
In Mulberry Place you were conceived (repeat)--Yoho' !
He! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä'.
In Uyâ'..yë you were conceived (repeat)--Yoho' !
He! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä'.
In the Great Swamp you were conceived (repeat)--Yoho' !
And now surely we and the good black things, the best of all, shall see each other.

This song is sung by the bear hunter, in order to attract the bears, while on his way from the camp to the place where he expects to hunt during the day. It is one of those taught the Ani Kituhwagi by the Ani-Tsâ'kahï before they lost their human shape and were transformed into bears. The melody is simple and plaintive.

The song consists of four verses followed by a short recitation. Each verse begins with a loud prolonged He ! and ends with Yoho' ! uttered in the same manner. Hayuya'haniwä' has no meaning. Tsistu'yï, Kuwâ'hï, Uyâ'..yë, and Gâte'kwâhï are four mountains, in each of which the bears have a townhouse and hold a dance before going into their dens for the winter. The first three named are high peaks in the Smoky Mountains, on the Tennessee line, in the neighborhood of Clingman's Dome and Mount Guyot. The fourth is southeast of Franklin, North Carolina, toward the South Carolina line, and may be identical with Fodderstack Mountain. In Kuwahi dwells the great bear chief and doctor, in whose magic bath the wounded bears are restored to health. They are said to originate or be conceived in the mountains named, because these are their headquarters. The "good black things" referred to in the recitation are the bears......So says Spirit Hawk

Edited by Spirithawk, 08 September 2008 - 07:31 PM.

#2 QueenNorth


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Posted 11 September 2008 - 08:13 PM

Thank you Norm for sharing that story, I love your stories and always have a peaceful feeling after reading them. I can't wait to meet you and hear some stories in person, then I will be able to hear the words spoken as they should be (I do not even attempt to pronouce them). :) Thanks again.
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Posted 12 September 2008 - 06:49 AM

I too enjoy the stories and look forward to more in the future.
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#4 paturbo


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Posted 13 September 2008 - 07:16 PM

NOrm, thanks for sharing your stories. It was great!


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