Changing Bear Maiden, detail, 1995, Sally Black, ET513.F-5
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Changing Bear Maiden Story

Ch’ikę́ę́ Shash Nádleehí (Changing Bear Maiden) married Ma’ii (Coyote) after he killed a giant in order to win her hand.  Her twelve brothers were not happy about the marriage. Even so, they took Coyote hunting with them. When Coyote behaved badly, fighting over a mountain sheep killed by one of the brothers, they sent him home ahead of them. On his own, Coyote got into trouble gambling with the Otter People. Then he insulted the Cliff People who caught and killed him. Coyote’s wife was furious when her brothers returned home without Coyote. With the powers Coyote had shown her, she turned herself into a bear. She pursued the brothers, killing all but the youngest. Prompted by the Wind, he outran her and destroyed her hidden heart and lungs, which were the keys to her power.