A Story From: United States
Read Time: ["3 to 5mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.

The Bear Feast StoryThe Bear Feast Story ~ Folktales Stories for Kids 

 

An old man living in Alaska was sad.  All of his friends and family were long gone.  He began to wonder if he should leave the village and start a new life somewhere else. “If I lived someplace new, at least I won’t be around all these memories anymore,” he thought.  But he also worried, “If I paddle away to another village and the people there see that I’m alone, they may think that I had to run away from my home village because I was accused of some disgraceful thing.” Instead, he thought that he would just go off and live in the forest by himself.

The poor man was so sad, traveling alone in the woods, it actually occurred to him to go to the bears and just let the bears kill him. The bear village was by a large salmon creek, so he went over to the creek early in the morning until he found a bear trail, and he lay down across the end of it. He thought that when the bears came out along this trail they would find him, and that would be the end of him.

By and by, as he lay there, he heard the bushes breaking.  Then a large number of grizzly bears came along.  The largest bear led the rest, and the tips of his hairs were white. Then the old man became scared. All of a sudden, he realized that he did not want to die at all, and certainly not by bears. So when the leading bear came up to him, the old man stood up.  He announced: “I have come to invite you to a feast.”

At that, the leading bear’s fur stood straight up.  The old man thought that he was surely done for, but he spoke again, saying, “I have come to invite you to a feast, but if you are going to kill me, I am willing to die. I am alone. I have lost all of my family and my friends.”

As soon as he had said this the leading bear turned around and growled to the bears that were following. Then the group of them turned back the way they had come. After a while the man turned and walked toward his village very fast. He wondered if the biggest bear had told the bears behind him to go back and get ready because they were invited to a feast.

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SOURCE:

"Inviting the Bears" is based on "The Man Who Entertained the Bears," a story from Tlingit Myths and Texts recorded by John R. Swanton (Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 39, story #64). Also a tidbit from "Inviting the Bears" is sourced to another story from said Tlingit Myths, "Origin of Iceberg House", story #21.

Adapted by Elaine Lindy. ©1998. All rights reserved.


FOOTNOTE:

The Tlingit is a group of Native American tribes inhabiting the Pacific coast of southeastern Alaska. Native Americans who live in Alaska are often confused with Inuit (Eskimo) peoples but they have entirely different origins. Native Americans are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait into Alaska about 20,000 years ago. The Inuits (Eskimos), a people of Arctic Mongolian stock, are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait into Alaska much more recently, about 2,000 years ago. Today, the largest concentration of Tlingit Native Americans is in Alaska, where many Tlingit work in the logging and fishing industries. In the 1990 United States census, 13,925 people claimed to be of Tlingit descent. The story "Inviting the Bears" was recorded in 1904 at Wrangell, Alaska.