Journey With Story


Journey With Story

How the Bear Clan Learned to Heal:E235

How the Bear Clan

How the Bear Clan Learned to Heal

A Native American folktale that explains how the Bear Clan become the tribe chosen to receive from the Spirit the gift of healing knowledge.  An episode from storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.  (duration – 8 minutes)

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How the Bear Clan Learned to Heal

Episode 235

August 3,2023

Do you know how a long, long time ago, people cured an earache?  Or how they cured a nail infection?   


Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley.  Welcome to Journey with Story.  Some of you may know about old fashioned remedies for earache or other minor ailments like a nail infection.  For an earache, a common cure was to use the juice of an onion inside the ear and when I was a little girl and got a sore nail, my dad would make a poultice – that is he would soak white bread in warm milk and then put that on my finger for a few minutes and it always worked.  You might ask your grandparents if they have any favorite remedies for treating minor aches and pains.  And…today’s story is a Native American tale that explains how a particular tribe became known as the Healers – the ones who learned how to find natural medicine in the plants around them. 


Before I begin – thanks to all of our loyal listeners who have been rating, reviewing and sharing this podcast with others. If you haven’t already done so, do take a moment now to rate review and share.  Thank you. 


Now let’s take a journey with How the Bear Clan Learned to Heal. 



Long, long time ago, some Indians were running along a trail that led to an Indian settlement. As they ran, a rabbit jumped from the bushes and sat before them. 


The Indians stopped, but the rabbit still sat up before them and did not move from the trail. They shot their arrows at him, but the arrows came back unstained with blood. 


A second time they drew their arrows. Now no rabbit was to be seen. Instead, an old man stood on the trail. He seemed to be weak and sick. The old man asked them for food and a place to rest. But the Indians ignored him and went on their way back to their village. 


Slowly the old man followed them, down the trail to the wigwam village. In front of each wigwam, he saw a skin placed on a pole. This he knew was the sign of the clan to which the dwellers in that wigwam belonged. 


First he stopped at a wigwam where a wolf skin hung. He asked to enter, but they would not let him. They said, “We want no sick men here.” 


On he went toward another wigwam. Here a turtle’s shell was hanging. But this family would not let him in either. 


He tried a wigwam where he saw a beaver skin. He was told the same thing, “Move along old man.” 


The Indians who lived in a wigwam where a deer skin was seen, were just as unkind. Nor was he permitted to enter wigwams where hung hawk, snipe, and heron skins. 


At last he came to a wigwam where a bear skin hung. 


“I will ask once more for a place to rest,” he thought. 


And here a kind old woman lived. She brought food for him to eat, and spread soft skins for him to lie upon. 


The old man thanked her. He said that he was very sick. He told the woman what plants to gather in the wood, to make him well again. This she did, and soon he was healed. 


A few days later the old man was again taken sick. Again he told the woman what roots and leaves to gather. She did as she was told, and soon he was well.  Many times the old man fell sick. Each time he had a different sickness. Each time he told the woman what plants and herbs to find to cure him. Each time she remembered what she had been told. 


Soon this woman of the Bear clan knew more about healing than all the other people. 


One day, the old man told her that the Great Spirit had sent him to earth, to teach the Indian people the secrets of healing. 


“I came, sick and hungry, to many a wigwam door. No blanket was drawn aside for me to pass in. You alone lifted the blanket from your wigwam door and bade me enter. 


“You are of the Bear clan, therefore all other clans shall come to the Bear clan for help in sickness. 


You shall teach all the clans what plants, and roots, and leaves to gather, that the sick may be healed. 


And the Bear shall be the greatest and strongest of the clans.” 


The Indian woman lifted her face to the Great Spirit to thank him for this great gift and knowledge of healing. When she turned again to the man, he had disappeared. 


No one was there, but a rabbit was running swiftly down the trail. 

What do you think this story’s souvenir is?  Yes, like many of our stories, I think it has to do with no act of kindness is ever wasted.  Remember if this story painted any pictures in your imagination, do start drawing and send us your masterpieces to 


Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story. 

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