Tales of the North American Indians
Bear-woman And Deer-woman
Grizzly Bear and Doe, the two wives of Chickenhawk, were pounding acorns. When they had finished, one of them said, “Let us go down to the creek and leach the meal.” While they were waiting for the meal to soak, they agreed to hunt one another’s heads for lice. Doe looked first in Grizzly’s hair. “You have no lice,” she said. “Well then,” said Grizzly, “I will look in yours.” When in her search she reached the Doe’s neck she sprinkled in some sand. “You have many lice,” she said, “I will chew them.” “Ukka! ukka!” cried Doe, “hold on there.” Biting her head off, she killed her. Taking Doe’s head and both lots of acorn meal she went back to the house. She put the head in the fire and when the eyes burst with the heat she told the children it was only the white oak log cracking in the fire. “I think it is our mother’s head,” said one of the Doe’s children. “Go a long way off and play,” said Grizzly. “You won’t be permitted to live long,” they heard their mother’s hair so say to them.
The two bear children and the two fawns went out to play. “Let us play smoke-each-other-out in this hollow log,” suggested the fawns. The bears agreed and the fawns went in first. “That’s enough, that’s enough,” they cried. “Now you go in,” they told the bears. The fawns fanned the smoke into the log until the bears were smothered. Going back to the house, one of them held out what she had in her hand and said, “Here is a skunk we killed in a log.” “Very well,” said the bear mother. Then the other fawn held out hers and said, “Here is a skunk we killed in a log.” “Thank you, my niece; after awhile I will make a meal upon them,” replied Grizzly.
“She is eating her children,” she heard some one say. “What did you say?” she asked. “First you killed a person, and now you are eating your own children’s hands.” She ran after the children who had been taunting her. When she came near them she called in a pleasant voice, “Well, come home.” They ran up on a ridge and barely escaped being caught. Finally they came to a place where Crane was fishing by the river. “Grandfather, put your neck across and let us go over on it. An old woman is after us. Put your neck across.”
They crossed over safely and running to the top of a ridge hid in a hole in a rock. When Grizzly came, Crane put his neck across again for a bridge, but when she was half way over he gave it a sudden twist. She went floating down the middle of the stream.