Authors: Lloyd Arneach
Published by The History Press
Charleston, SC 29403
Copyright Â© 2008 by Lloyd Arneach
All rights reserved
Illustrations by Elizabeth Ellison.
First published 2008
Second printing 2009
Third printing 2011
Fourth printing 2012
Fifth printing 2013
e-book edition 2013
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Long-ago stories of the eastern Cherokee / Lloyd Arneach.
print edition ISBN 978-1-59629-031-0 (alk. paper)
1. Cherokee Indians--Folklore. I. Title.
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without prior written permission from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This story took place long ago. In those days, the Bear had a long, bushy tail, and this story tells what happened to his tail.
The Bear woke up in the middle of the winter. He came out of his den and began looking around for food. Everything was covered with snow, and he started walking through the forest. He saw Brother Fox coming through the forest toward him.
Brother Fox had a big stringer of fish hanging over his shoulder. He looked up and saw the Bear coming toward him, but it was too late for him to run away with his fish. He didn't want to tell Brother Bear he had stolen his fish from the Mink, because then the Bear would take them away from him. So Brother Fox came up with an idea about how he could trick the Bear.
The Bear continued walking along the trail and approached Brother Fox. The Bear said, “That's a lot of fish you've got there. Could you give me one of those fish? I'm awfully hungry.”
The Fox knew that he couldn't give the Bear one fish, because then he would want another and another and another. So Brother Fox said, “Bear, I'll tell you how I caught all of these fish and you can catch more fish than I've got here.”
And the Bear said, “How did you catch all of those fish?”
The Fox replied, “I went down to the river and I used a rock to knock a hole in the ice. I turned around and stuck my tail down in that hole. The fish started biting the hairs on my tail and it hurt, but that meant more and more fish were biting my tail. I kept waiting and waiting until finally I stood up and I had all of these fish hanging on my tail. Your tail is much bigger than mine and you will catch more fish than I did.”
The Bear went down to the river. He found a big rock and used it to knock a hole in the ice. Then he turned around and stuck his long, bushy tail down in the hole. It wasn't long before his tail started to hurt. He thought of all the fish that were biting his tail. Finally, the pain was so strong that he couldn't stand it any longer. The Bear tried to stand up, but he couldn't because the ice had frozen around his tail. He kept straining to stand until finally he gave one last push with his hind legs and pulled free. But he left his long, bushy tail frozen in the ice and all he had left was a short stub of a tail.
And that is why, whenever the Fox sees the Bear in the forest, the Fox runs awayâbecause the Bear still remembers how the Fox caused him to lose his long, bushy tail.
A Man was hunting in the woods when he saw a Black Bear. He followed the Bear until he was able to shoot it with an arrow. The Bear kept moving. The Man followed and shot the Bear again and again. The Bear did not drop. This was a medicine Bear and it could talk and read the thoughts of people.
The Bear stopped and pulled the arrows from its side. He told the Hunter, “Your arrows will not kill me.” He said, “Come to my house and we will live together.”
The Hunter thought, “He wants to kill me.”
The Bear read his thoughts and said, “I will not harm you.”
The Hunter then asked, “How will I get food?”
The Bear replied, “There will be plenty of food.”
Finally, the Hunter decided to go with the Bear.
They came to a cave in the mountain. The Bear said, “They are having a council inside. We will see what they decide to do.”
They went into the cave and it widened as they went deeper. They saw all kinds of Bears: white, black, brown, young and old. The chief was a great white Bear. The Hunter and the Bear sat in a corner, but the Bears could smell the Hunter.
They asked, “What is that bad smell?”
The Bear chief said, “It is only a stranger come to visit us. Don't talk like that.”
It was getting hard to find food in the mountains, and they had sent Bears out to find food. Two Bears came back and said they had found an area in the lowlands where the chestnuts and acorns were knee-deep. They were happy that they would not starve and got ready to dance.
The leader of the Bears was one the Cherokee called “Long Hams.” He was a big Black Bear that was always lean. After the dance, the Bears noticed the Hunter's bow and arrows. One said, “This is what Man kills us with. Let us learn how to use them and we can use them against him.”
They took the bow and arrows from the Hunter. A Bear put the arrow on the bow and drew the string back. The string got caught in his long claws and the arrow fell to the ground. The Bears realized they could not use the bow and arrows, so they gave them back to the Hunter. The dance and council were now over and everybody left.
The Hunter and the Bear were the last to leave. They traveled on until they came to another cave. The Bear said, “This is where I live.”
He went inside the cave. The Hunter followed him. The Hunter was very hungry and he thought, “How will I get something to eat?”
The Bear read his thoughts and sat on his hind legs. He rubbed his stomach with his forepaws and when he opened his paws they were filled with chestnuts. He gave them to the Hunter. He rubbed his stomach with his forepaws again and when he opened his paws they were filled with huckleberries. He gave these to the Hunter. He rubbed his stomach with his forepaws again. When he opened his paws they were filled with blackberries. He gave them to the Hunter. He rubbed his stomach with his forepaws again and when he opened his paws they were filled with acorns. The Hunter said he had had enough.