The Bear in Folklore and Mythology

Do you know the story about the Big Dipper?

According to one version of the Greek legend, Zeus fell is love with Callisto and produced a son named Arcas. Zeus' wife became jealous and turned Callisto into a bear which Arcas later went hunting for, not realizing that he was hunting his own mother. Zeus put Callisto into the night sky so that she would be safe and we could see her -- Ursa Major - or the Big Dipper as we call it today.

See also the Myths of Ursa Major, the Great Bear

Bears have been incorporated into native American arts for thousands of years because natives had a special place in their hearts for the American bear, both black bears and grizzly bears. For them, the bear was a symbol of strength and courage.

See other American Indian starlore about the sky.

Morris Michtom, who made stuffed animals around the turn of the century, was inspired to invent the TEDDY BEAR in response to a cartoon depicting Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a black bear trapped up in a tree.

See this more expansive note from the National Museum of American History.

And this interesting note about Morris Michtom's "Teddy's Bear"

Winnie the Pooh is a beloved fictional bear created by A.A. Milne that was named after Winnipeg, a female black bear cub that lived at the London Zoo for almost 20 years.
In American Indian tribes generally, there is no essential difference between men and animals. Like people, the animals were organized into tribes called four-footed tribes and even had their chiefs and councils.
An example of a larger-than-life bear is in the story from Maine entitled "The Fisherman and the Bear." You'll enjoy if you haven't read it.

"The Bear" is a creative film about animals that will give you a fresh perspective on their world. Known as L'Ours in its original release, is a 1988 French film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The screenplay by Gérard Brach was adapted from the novel The Grizzly King by James Oliver Curwood.

Set in late 19th century British Columbia, Canada, the film tells the story of an orphaned bear cub befriended and protected by an adult male grizzly as hunters pursue them through the wilds. It was acclaimed in France and was nominated for and won numerous international film awards.


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