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The Thunder Bird Tootooch Legends, by W.L. Webber, [1936], at

p. 33

Chet-Woot, The Bear

Chet-Woot, THE BEAR

Among the Indian tribes of Alaska and British Columbia there are many tales relating how their ancestors acquired an additional totem for their family poles. This particular one is of interest on account of the British Columbia Totem Pole standing at the Yesler Way in Seattle.

It is a story of the Bear. This animal left a lasting impression upon the Indian's minds whenever they came in contact with one in its native haunts. At Potlatch Feasts the members of the Bear Clan were warmly welcomed. Considerable interest would be taken in their imitations and antics which would cause much laughter and gaiety.

Long ago, a lonely village maid of the Crow Clan, affiliated with the Ravens, went with other members of the tribe to gather raspberries at a place burned over by a fire of their own making. When crawling over a fallen tree trunk, she stepped in a slippery place where a bear had been. Her companions joked and laughed at her misfortune at which she laughed as well. Lagging behind, she was accosted by a young man who was the Bear in human form. He fell in love with her and asked her to come to his home and they would be married. She agreed and followed him up stream and over hills for four moons finally coming to the Bear's house in which lived his parents and brothers and sisters.

The maid was given the toil of a slave and unpleasant tasks to perform, so that the parents could gauge her usefulness in these tasks. She had to carry the water and get the sticks to keep the fire burning. The sticks she collected were dry but the sisters put them in water so that they would not burn and did other things to discourage her so she would not marry their brother. Not being able to keep the fire going was considered a disgrace, an indication that she would nor make a good wife. In her discouragement she left the Bear's house, travelling alone over the hills and along streams for four moons. Coming hack to her home, she related what had happened to her former companions.

In after years she told this story to her sons and daughters and to commemorate the event she made for each one of them a Chilkat blanket on which was told the story of her adventure. Later the family took the Bear as a totem crest.

Since that time it has been the custom for the mothers belonging to this clan to make a Chilkat blanket and give one to each of her children. The writer of these legends has one of the blankets.

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