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In the very old days, the Sleeping Ute Mountain was a Great Warrior God. He came to help fight against the Evil Ones who were causing much trouble.A tremendous battle between the Great Warrior God and the Evil Ones followed. As they stepped hard upon the earth and braced themselves to fight, their feet pushed the land into mountains and valleys. This is how the country of this region came to be as it is today.The Great Warrior God was hurt, so he lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep. The blood from his wound turned into living water for all creatures to drink.When the fog or clouds settle over the Sleeping Warrior God, it is a sign that he is changing his blankets for the four seasons.
When the Indians see the light green blanket over their "God", they know it is spring. The dark green blanket is summer, the yellow and red one is fall, and the white one is winter.The Indians believe that when the clouds gather on the highest peak, the Warrior God is pleased with his people and is letting rain clouds slip from his pockets. They also believe that the Great Warrior God will rise again to help them in the fight against their enemies.
A Long time ago, Bobcat had a long tail and a long nose. One day while Coyote was walking, he caught Bobcat sleeping on the rocks. Coyote then decided to push Bobcat’s nose in and cut off his tail. After he had done that, he went home. At noon, Bobcat woke up. “Oh, what has happened to my nose and my tail? They are no longer long!” Then he thought to himself that it must have been Coyote’s doing. Coyote was taking a nap when Bobcat caught him sleeping. Bobcat thought to himself that he must do to Coyote what Coyote had done him. So he pulled hard on Coyote’s tail and pulled his nose until they became very long, and then he ran away. That is why Coyote now has a long nose and tail, and Bobcat has a short nose and tail.
One day old Coyote was walking along the riverbank. A big wind storm came up, and because it was so strong, it blew Old Coyote along, faster and faster. There were some willows growing along the bank. Old Coyote took hold of the willows. He held on until the wind died down. If the willows had not been there, Old Coyote would have been blown away. Because he was glad, he rewarded the willows and changed them into beautiful colors. And that is why, once every year, the willows change into many colors.
Hundreds of years ago, long after the cliff dwellers left their canyon top and cliff dwellings, native people cane from the south into the vast area we call Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. These people, now known as Utes, lives here long before the Spanish explorers arrived with their large expeditions and herds of horses. The Ute families, bands, and encampments were spread out across this large area. Their customs were very similar and all spoke the same language even though they didn't often see each other.The Utes believed that the mountains were put there by Manitou. He was the Great Spirit who lived all alone in the center of the sky.
He grew lonesome and wanted to create something new so he made a hole in the sky and swept all the stones and dirt from the sky's floor through the hole.Manitou looked down and saw the great mountains he had made from the dirt and rocks. Some of the dirt became the rolling plains that stretched as far as he could see. He was so pleased with his landscape that he poured down snow and rain to make the earth more beautiful. Manitou created the trees, flowers and finally the Ute Indians to live in this new world.The Utes believe that Manitou had also made all of the animals as well as the birds. It is said he made the birds by taking handfuls of leaves and throwing them in the air. Then the leaves became birds and flew away.But the worst thing of all happened. The animals soon began to fight and kill each other and that made Manitou mad, so he created the strongest animal to rule over all the others to see that they lived in peace. This was the grizzly bear, the king of all beasts.
No one can remember any more exactly how it came about that the black bear Wakini overpowered the strong grey grizzly Wakinu. The black bears say that Wakini was just feeding on the contents of an ant hill when Wakinu came up to him and quite rudely stuck his paw in as well.A great fight ensued, with grey and black hairs flying on every side. Wakini was, of course, in the right, for no animal may ever touch another's prey.Wakinu thus received a just punishment; but that was by no means all - like a defeated warrior, he had to leave his tribe forever.Wakinu wailed and lamented, but the Indian laws are inexorable. And so he had to go, wading through familiar streams, taking a last look at the familiar pines, and saying farewell to the valley he had lived in all of his life.He could not see for tears, and so he failed to notice that he was making straight for the Snow Country. Suddenly he fell into a deep snowdrift. Clambering out with difficulty, he wiped his eyes and took a look round.There was nothing but white, unblemished snow everywhere.
"I'm sure to find a trail soon," the bear said to himself, and set out on his way once more. His grey coat had turned completely white with the snow, ice, and bitter wind.But Wakinu took no notice of anything and walked on and on, until he reached a strange land in which a deep, frosty night reigned supreme. Somewhere in the far distance the gale could still be heard, yet here there was no but that made by his own footfalls on the frozen snow.Above him glowed the night sky, while not far away, on the very fringe of the Snow Country and the heavens, a broad white trail could be seen ascending the sky.Wakinu ran, hardly touching the ground, mesmerized by that gleaming trail. Another leap, and he found himself in the air, shaking the snow from his coat; light as a feather, he soared up and up.The animals who were awake that night saw, for the first time, a wide white trail in the sky, and on it - a grey bear."Wakinu has found the Bridge of the Dead Souls and is on his way to the Eternal Hunting-grounds," said the wise black bear Wakini.And the grizzly really did go to the Eternal Hunting-grounds. The only thing he left behind was the snow he had shaken from his coat. And that white snow is there in the sky to this day. Just look and see!The pale-faces speak about the Milky Way, but every Indian knows that that is the way to the Eternal Hunting-grounds, the path taken by the grey grizzly Wakinu.