Myths And Legends Of The Sioux
The Bear And The Rabbit Hunt Buffalo
Once upon a time there lived as neighbors, a bear and a rabbit. The rabbit was a good shot, and the bear being very clumsy could not use the arrow to good advantage. The bear was very unkind to the rabbit.
Every morning, the bear would call over to the rabbit and say:
“Take your bow and arrows and come with me to the other side of the hill. A large herd of buffalo are grazing there, and I want you to shoot some of them for me, as my children are crying for meat.”
The rabbit, fearing to arouse the bear’s anger by refusing, consented, and went with the bear, and shot enough buffalo to satisfy the hungry family. Indeed, he shot and killed so many that there was lots of meat left after the bear and his family had loaded themselves, and packed all they could carry home.
The bear being very gluttonous, and not wanting the rabbit to get any of the meat, said:
“Rabbit, you come along home with us and we will return and get the remainder of the meat.”
The poor rabbit could not even taste the blood from the butchering, as the bear would throw earth on the blood and dry it up. Poor Rabbit would have to go home hungry after his hard day’s work.
The bear was the father of five children. The youngest boy was very kind to the rabbit. The mother bear, knowing that her youngest was a very hearty eater, always gave him an extra large piece of meat. What the baby bear did not eat, he would take outside with him and pretend to play ball with it, kicking it toward the rabbit’s house, and when he got close to the door he would give the meat such a great kick, that it would fly into the rabbit’s house, and in this way poor Rabbit would get his meal unknown to the papa bear.
Baby bear never forgot his friend Rabbit. Papa bear often wondered why his baby would go outside after each meal. He grew suspicious and asked the baby where he had been.
“Oh, I always play ball outside, around the house, and when I get tired playing I eat up my meat ball and then come in.”
The baby bear was too cunning to let papa bear know that he was keeping his friend rabbit from starving to death. Nevertheless, papa bear suspected baby and said:
“Baby, I think you go over to the rabbit’s after every meal.”
The four older brothers were very handsome, but baby bear was a little puny fellow, whose coat couldn’t keep out much cold, as it was short and shaggy, and of a dirty brown color. The three older brothers were very unkind to baby bear, but the fourth one always took baby’s part, and was always kind to his baby brother.
Rabbit was getting tired of being ordered and bullied around by papa bear. He puzzled his brain to scheme some way of getting even with Mr. Bear for abusing him so much. He studied all night long, but no scheme worth trying presented itself. Early one morning Mr. Bear presented himself at Rabbit’s door.
“Say, Rabbit, my meat is all used up, and there is a fine herd of buffalo grazing on the hillside. Get your bow and arrows and come with me. I want you to shoot some of them for me.”
said Rabbit, and he went and killed six buffalo for Bear. Bear got busy butchering and poor Rabbit, thinking he would get a chance to lick up one mouthful of blood, stayed very close to the bear while he was cutting up the meat. The bear was very watchful lest the rabbit get something to eat. Despite bear’s watchfulness, a small clot of blood rolled past and behind the bear’s feet. At once Rabbit seized the clot and hid it in his bosom. By the time Rabbit got home, the blood clot was hardened from the warmth of his body, so, being hungry, it put Mr. Rabbit out of sorts to think that after all his trouble he could not eat the blood.
Very badly disappointed, he lay down on his floor and gazed up into the chimney hole. Disgusted with the way things had turned out, he grabbed up the blood clot and threw it up through the hole.
Scarcely had it hit the ground when he heard the voice of a baby crying,
He went outside and there he found a big baby boy. He took the baby into his house and threw him out through the hole again. This time the boy was large enough to say
“Ate, Ate, he-cun-sin-lo.”
(Father, father, don’t do that).
But nevertheless, he threw him up and out again. On going out the third time, there stood a handsome youth smiling at him. Rabbit at once adopted the youth and took him into his house, seating him in the seat of honor (which is directly opposite the entrance), and saying:
“My son, I want you to be a good, honest, straightforward man. Now, I have in my possession a fine outfit, and you, my son, shall wear it.”
Suiting his action to his words, he drew out a bag from a hollow tree and on opening it, drew out a fine buckskin shirt (tanned white as snow), worked with porcupine quills. Also a pair of red leggings worked with beads. Moccasins worked with colored hair. A fine otter skin robe. White weasel skins to intertwine with his beautiful long black locks. A magnificent center eagle feather. A rawhide covered bow, accompanied by a quiver full of flint arrowheads.
The rabbit, having dressed his son in all the latest finery, sat back and gazed long and lovingly at his handsome son. Instinctively Rabbit felt that his son had been sent him for the purpose of being instrumental in the downfall of Mr. Bear. Events will show.
The morning following the arrival of Rabbit’s son, Mr. Bear again presents himself at the door, crying out:
“You lazy, ugly rabbit, get up and come out here. I want you to shoot some more buffalo for me.”
“Who is this, who speaks so insultingly to you, father?”
asked the son.
“It is a bear who lives near here, and makes me kill buffalo for his family, and he won’t let me take even one little drop of blood from the killing, and consequently, my son, I have nothing in my house for you to eat.”
The young man was anxious to meet Mr. Bear but Rabbit advised him to wait a little until he and Bear had gone to the hunt. So the son obeyed, and when he thought it time that the killing was done, he started out and arrived on the scene just as Mr. Bear was about to proceed with his butchering.
Seeing a strange shadow on the ground beside him, Mr. Bear looked up and gazed into the fearless eyes of rabbit’s handsome son.
“Who is this?”
asked Mr. Bear of poor little Rabbit.
“I don’t know,”
“Who are you?”
asked the bear of Rabbit’s son.
“Where did you come from?”
The rabbit’s son not replying, the bear spoke thus to him:
“Get out of here, and get out quick, too.”
At this speech the rabbit’s son became angered, and fastened an arrow to his bow and drove the arrow through the bear’s heart. Then he turned on Mrs. Bear and served her likewise. During the melee, Rabbit shouted:
“My son, my son, don’t kill the two youngest. The baby has kept me from starving and the other one is good and kind to his baby brother.”
So the three older brothers who were unkind to their baby brother met a similar fate to that of their selfish parents.
This (the story goes) is the reason that bears travel only in pairs.