Old Man Above and the Grizzlies
by Katharine Berry Judson
Myths and Legends of California and the Old
Along time ago, while smoke still curled from the smoke hole of the tepee,
a great storm arose. The storm shook the tepee. Wind blew the smoke down
the smoke hole. Old Man Above said to Little Daughter: "Climb up to the
smoke hole. Tell Wind to be quiet. Stick your arm out of the smoke hole
before you tell him." Little Daughter climbed up to the smoke hole and put
out her arm. But Little Daughter put out her head also. She wanted to see
the world. Little Daughter wanted to see the rivers and trees, and the
white foam on the Bitter Waters. Wind caught Little Daughter by the hair.
Wind pulled her out of the smoke hole and blew her down the mountain. Wind
blew Little Daughter over the smooth ice and the great forests, down to
the land of the Grizzlies. Wind tangled her hair and then left her cold
and shivering near the tepees of the Grizzlies.
Soon Grizzly came home. In those days Grizzly walked on two feet, and
carried a big stick. Grizzly could talk as people do. Grizzly laid down
the young elk he had killed and picked up Little Daughter. He took Little
Daughter to his tepee. Then Mother Grizzly warmed her by the fire. Mother
Grizzly gave her food to eat.
Soon Little Daughter married the son of Grizzly. Their children were not
Grizzlies. They were men. So the Grizzlies built a tepee for Little
Daughter and her children. White men call the tepee Little Shasta.
At last Mother Grizzly sent a son to Old Man Above. Mother Grizzly knew
that Little Daughter was the child of Old Man Above, but she was afraid.
She said: "Tell Old Man Above that Little Daughter is alive."
Old Man Above climbed out of the smoke hole. He ran down the mountain side
to the land of the Grizzlies. Old Man Above ran very quickly. Wherever he
set his foot the snow melted. The snow melted very quickly and made
streams of water. Now Grizzlies stood in line to welcome Old Man Above.
They stood on two feet and carried clubs. Then Old Man Above saw his
daughter and her children. He saw the new race of men. Then Old Man Above
became very angry. He said to Grizzlies:
"Never speak again. Be silent. Neither shall ye stand upright. Ye shall
use your hands as feet. Ye shall look downward."
Then Old Man Above put out the fire in the tepee. Smoke no longer curls
from the smoke hole. He fastened the door of the tepee. The new race of
men he drove out. Then Old Man Above took Little Daughter back to his
That is why grizzlies walk on four feet and look downward. Only when
fighting they stand on two feet and use their fists like men.