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The Bear and the Fawns

Outline of Story sung by the Middle Mewuk in the Mountains on Tuolumne River

Personages

Oo-soo'-ma-te the Grizzly Bear-woman
Ut-too'-yah the Mother Deer
He-le'-jah the Cougar or Mountain Lion-man
Te-wi'-yu the Red-shafted Flicker-man

The Bear and the Fawns

A story sung by the Middle Mewuk

Oo-soo'-ma-te the Grizzly Bear killed Ut-too'-yah the Mother Deer. Oo-soo'-ma-te killed her and He-le'-jah the Mountain Lion ate her. The Mother Deer had two little fawns. They missed their motherand asked Oo-soo'-ma-te where she was. Oo-soo'-ma-te answered, “She is resting,” and pointing to the house said, “Go in there where you will be safe till she comes back.”

They went in, singing for their mother to come back, for they were starving. When they were inside, Oo-soo'-ma-te closed the door so they could not get out.

Then the fawns felt sure that Oo-soo'-ma-te had killed their mother and was intending to kill them. So they fastened the door of the Bear’s house on the inside so she could not get in. Then a kind one—Te-wi'-yu the Red-shafted Flicker—brought them fire and they put it in the middle of the house and put on a number of rocks to heat.

When Oo-soo'-ma-te came home she was unable to get in and called to the fawns, saying, “I want to come in; where is the door?”

They answered, “Try the west side.”

She tried, but could not find any door.

Then they called to her to try the north side, and she did so, but could not find it.

Then they told her to try the cast side, and she did, with no better success; then the south side, with the same result.

This made Oo-soo'-ma-te very angry and she shouted, “If you don’t open the door and let me in I’ll come and eat you.”

Then they told her to climb up on top and come in through the smoke hole, and to back down or she would fall and break her neck.

So she climbed up on top and began to back down through the smoke hole. But by this time the rocks were hot, and while she was trying to squeeze through the hole the fawns took the hot rocks and burned her to death.


Next: How the Children of He-le'-jah Became People

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