“A small roundish juicy fruit without a stone”
THE GIFT OF THE BEAR
According to the original telling of the Anishaanabek, the first council of spirits was held Center-of-Earth, and it was called by the Upper-Air Spirits to ask assistance of the Under-Earth Spirits in saving a strange, unfurred group of animals called ” The People”.
Otter and Bear, two of the most famous dodemog, were chosen to push the first Tree of Life(Nokonis Giishik-Grandmother Ceder) from Center-of-Earth though to the surface, forming the fisrt channel of communication between Above and Below. In those days, it is siad, the main communicator of the on-surface world was Bahmbetah-Benaysee (Rhythm-Beater/Pace-Setter) whose gregarious nature led him to snoop into every thing and then disperse messages by beating rhtyms on anything available. He saw the first tree of life and the first Bear-Berry pulled though.
“HURRY UP” called OTTER DOWN TO THE CRACK IN THE EARTH where the top of the first cedar began to appesr.
” My fur is drying out in the warm winds of Above. Give it your best effort” So Bear, who still down inside pushing, gave one last mighty heave with his powerful muscles, The earth trembled, and the first Tree-of-Life emerged in the sunlite, quickly followed by Bear himself.
“COME ON” urged Otter, “we have done as Council told us.I am auxious to return to Below”
“I would like to see the unfurred creature for whom the whole Council is concerned.”
“Very well” bobbed the agreeable Otter, “but make it snappy” The two dodem animals did not have far to look. They came upon a cluster of the unfurred creatures pounding bark. Seeing the dodemog, they howled, dropped the bark, and fled all but one small manchild who could not even stand on his own hind legs, Bear stared at the naked infant.
“No wonder they need help; no claws, no fangs, no fur, no chew-teeth. Not even a berry”
“Not even, a what?”
“Not even a berry”
Bear pointed down an opening in the manchilds head out of which came wails of peoplesounds.
“Gaween Kagagee. No safty berry. Like mine, see”
Bear leaned back his huge head, parting his gleaming jaws, and Otter obligingly peered in the cavern. There, hanging from the back of Bears throat, was a round, ripe miskomin (rose colored berry)
“Sure enough siad 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 ever eaten before, down inside… And I never starve becouse the last berry is alwas there”
Otter slid impatiently into the water.
” I don’t really understand why anyone would eat beeries” he called, “but if you think that manchild needs one…. give him a bear berry too. and then lets go”.
Bear scrunched down on his great buttocks and slid down the sand dune onto the beach. Behind him, where his rump had oppened up the sand into a furrow, grew a long vine with shining green leaves and little round red berries just like the one hanging in Bears thoart. Bear reached over, yanked off a berry, and pop it into the wailing manchilds mouth.
“There , now,” as he rumbled in tender bear tones, “you shell 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, you know, when you see them silently swallowing,…trying to keep their bear berries down).
The warm sunlight of Above shone out upon the first cedar, upon the new bearberry vine, and upon the plunge circles in the water, as Otter and Bear returned to Below.
Bahmbetah-Benaysee, who had closely watched everything that happened, flew to the Tree of Life. Carefully he positioned his grabbing toes onto the oily bark. Then he threw back his handsome hammer head and wapped out the first rhythmic beat ever sounded on cedar?
(Origin tellings o of the first bearberry plant retold by Keewaydinoquay from stories Mideogema told his grandchildren. 1923-1927)