The Stiff-Legged Bear
Region of origin: Various northern indigenous tribes of North America
Also known as Gici Awas to the Abenaki, Nyah-Gwaheh to the Seneca and Iroquois, and a host of other names among several other tribes, details of stories involving the Stiff-Legged or Naked Bear may change between groups but all share a description of a type of massive, hairless bear with a larger-than-normal head, large sharp teeth and the stiff-jointed legs from which it takes its name. They are often depicted as especially aggressive man-eaters. An Iroquois legend in particular identifies it as the bear associated with the Big Dipper constellation, who is hunted through the sky and slain causing its dripping blood to stain the leaves red each autumn, only for the beast to rise again from the dead each year and repeat the cycle. There is some belief the common description may originate from a corruption of descriptions of mammoths remembered through ancestral stories, or arisen as an explanation after the discovery of mammoth skulls or fossils.