Bear Rank - Origin of the Bear Clan Ceremony
This Ceremony is meant for Bear scouts.
This story can be acted out. Characters are the father, mother, son, two bears, and several hunters.
Our ancestors, the natives who walked these lands before men came from across the seas, tell the story of a young family. As they did every year, a man, his wife, and their boy were travelling with their clan to the hunting grounds. They paddled as far as they could with their canoe, but they came to a point where a great portage was necessary. A portage is where one must carry the canoe from one lake or river to another. This particular portage was the greatest along the route, a 20-mile walk.
The man hefted the canoe on his back while his wife carried as many of their belongings as she could. The rest were left lashed in the canoe, making the man’s burden a heavy one. As they both struggled along their walk, the little boy laughed as he followed by their sides, playing and running circles around them without a care.
With the canoe on his shoulders, the man did not notice when his wife stopped briefly to rearrange her load. She and the boy fell behind, but they kept along the same path. The next time she stopped, her son ran along ahead to meet up with his father. She assumed that they were together, but her husband was far enough ahead that the boy had become lost, as she learned only when they reached the next camp. The clan searched, but found no trace of her boy.
As the months passed, the hunters reported that from time to time they had found sharpened sticks by nearby streams. They began to wonder if the boy was alive in the woods. As they began to find the footprints of a boy mixed with those of bears, they guess that he might even have been adopted by a bear family.
The men of the village determined to search the area where the prints had been found. However, after they had gone, the boy’s mother spotted one man who had not joined the search but instead was catching fish in the stream. "Will you not help find my son?" she asked. "He is my only child."
"Very well," the man replied. He gathered the fish he had caught and carried them off into the forest. Finding a bear cave, he used the fish to lure the bears away. Once they were gone, he entered their lair and found the young boy curled up in the corner, scared and alone. The man returned the boy to his family, and the boy’s mother wept with joy to be reunited with him. The rescuer was lavished with many generous gifts for his efforts.
Looking him over, the boy’s mother found that he was no worse off for his time living with the bears. However, his arms, legs, chest, and back had grown hair as if he was becoming a bear himself. His limbs were becoming thicker, and he stooped forward a bit. In fact, the rest of his life he continued to show these characteristics, and he and his descendants were forever known as the Bears. Wherever they camped, they would draw the symbol of the Bear with charcoal and declare, "I am a member of the Bear clan".
Today you too become a full member of the Bear clan. You have met the requirements to become a Bear, learning many new skills along the way. Although your back may not be very hairy, you have been forever changed by your experience.
I now give your parents the mark of the Bear (the bear rank patch). Wear it, and you may also say that you are a proud member of the Bear clan. Parents, please pin it on your son's left pocket.
[parents pin on badge]
Let’s all congratulate our new Bears with a great Bear growl!