Mana Pottery bear design

The BEAR is one of the most powerful and frequently appearing characters in Native American stories. Usually, Bear is associated with healing ceremonies and medicine societies. The Pawnee (Plains) legend of the Bear Medicine Woman tells the story of the Bear Ceremony and the Bear Dance. Bear Medicine Woman loses her first three children because the medicine people of her camp cannot cure them. She meets a bear beneath a cedar tree who tells her to follow him to his lodge. There, he promises her two more children, and gives her the power to heal the wounded by blowing colored breath on her face. The female bear hugs her and tells her how to use cherry, hackberry, and blueberry for healing. Bear Medicine Woman returns to her camp, where she and her husband heal many wounded men and make them members of the Bear Society. She also teaches her son the bear mysteries, and he becomes leader of the Bear Ceremony. Most often, the purpose of the Bear Ceremony is to cure illness and to petition for long life. The Bear Dance, an important part of the ceremony, may involve dancers wearing bearskins or masks and imitating the shuffling or waddling walk of the bear.