Gift in Spirit from
"Directions We Know: Walk in Honor"
Written by Grandmother
Keewaydinoquay, Ojibway and Ahmeekogendah
According to the tales of
the Midewiwin, the first council of the Mide spirits was held at the Center of
the Earth and it was called by the upper air spirits to ask the help of the
under earth spirits in saving a strange, unfurred animal named mankind. Otter
and Bear were chosen to push the first Tree of Life pole (Grandmother Cedar)
from the Earth''s Center through the surface, forming the first channel of
communications between Above and Below.
"Hurry Up!" called Otter
down the crack in the earth where the top of the pole had first appeared.
"My fur is drying out in the
warm winds Above. Give your best effort."
So Bear gave one last mighty
heave with his giant muscles. The earth trembled, and the first Tree of life
emerged in the sunlight, quickly followed by Bear himself.
"Come on," urged Otter, "we
have done as they told us. I am anxious to return Below."
"Not so fast there," growled
He lifted his great head and
curiously sniffed the warm smells of Above. "I would see this unfurred creature
for whom the whole council was concerned."
"Very well," bobbed the
agreeable Otter, "but make it snappy."
The two totem animals did
not have far to look. They came upon a cluster of the unfurred creatures
pounding bark. Seeing the totemog, they howled, dropped the bark, and fled --
all but one small manchild who could not even stand on his hind legs. Bear
stared at the naked infant.
"No wonder they needed help.
No claws, no teeth, no fur. Not even a Berry." "Not even a WHAT?" "Not even a
berry." Bear pointed down an opening in the manchild''s head out of which came
wails of people sound. "No safety berry. Like mine, see?"
Bear leaned back his huge
head, parting his gleaming jaws, and Otter obligingly peered into the cavern.
There, hanging from the back of Bear''s throat, was a round, ripe miskomin!
"Sure enough," said Otter.
"What do you do with it?" "What do I do with it?" That''s the Last Berry. It
holds all the other berries I''ve eaten before down inside. And I never starve
because the Last berry is always there."
Otter slid impatiently into
the water. "I don''t really understand why anyone would eat berries." he called,
"but if you think that manchild needs one---give him one and hurry up."
Bear crunched down on his
great buttocks and slid down to the dune to the beach. Behind him, where his
rump had opened up the sand, there grew a long vine with shinning leaves and
little round berries just like the one in Bear''s mouth. Bear reached over,
yanked off a berry, and bopped it into the wailing manchild''s mouth.
"There now," he rumbled in
tender bear tones, "you shall not starve. You have a bear berry too."
The astonished infant was
still, trying to keep his bear berry down. (That is what babies are doing when
you see them silently swallowing. In swallowing, trying to keep their bear
berries down.) The warm sunlight of Above shone upon the new bearberry vine and
upon the plunge circles in the water as Otter and Bear returned to Below.
Bird), who had seen everything that happened, flew to the Tree of Life.
Carefully he positioned his grabbing toes into the oil bard. Then he threw back
his handsome hammer head and beat out the first rhythm ever sounded on cedar. It
Behreee Bare Bear Behree
Paposse gotta Bare Bear
Behree Gift of the Bear
In Honor of Grandmother
Woman of the North West Wind