Select a good dancer for leader. All form line, holding hands, carefully graded so the least is last. Then dancing in step to the music, they set out in a line, follow-my-leader style, doubling the line on itself, and evoluting around the fire. Sometimes the dancers face alternately - that is, all the even numbers in the line look one way and the odd another.
A good finish is to curl in a tight spiral around the head, when the tail boy mounts on the back of the one before him and shakes a rattle, like a rattler rattling on its coil.
Any number of hunters up to twenty can take part in this game. Each one is armed with a war club. This is made of straw tied around two or three willow switches, and tightly sewn up in burlap. It should be about three feet long, one inch thick at the handle, and three or four inches through at the top.
Each hunter must make a wooden claw two inches long (see cut*) and a wooden bead three quarters of an inch long. The bead is usually a piece of elder with the pith pushed out. The claw is painted black toward the base. The tip is left the natural color of the wood. The bead is painted red. These beads and claws are strung alternately to form a necklace. There should be twenty in each. Finally, a toy balloon is blown up tight and put in a small bag; this is the bear's heart.
Now select a bear. Take the biggest, if several offer. He may be made realistic with wool or fur. Put the necklace on him; strap the bag on his back; then give him a club, also three dens or mountains about one hundred yards apart.
First, the Big Bear comes in and addresses the audience:
"I am fearless Mishi-Mokwa, I, the mighty Mountain Grizzly, King of all the Western prairies. When the roving bands of Indians Come into my own dominion I will slay as I have slain them. They shall not invade my country. I despise those puny creatures".
Then he stalks off to his den.
For cuts and details, see p. 287 among the games.
Now the hunters come in, and, facing the audience, the leader says:
"I am Chief of the Ojibwa, These are all my chosen warriors. We go hunting Mishi-Mokwa, He the Big Bear of the mountains; He that ravages our borders. We will surely seek and slay him; Or, if we should fall before him, We will die like men of valor, Dying, winning deathless glory".
Or, as an alternative prose reading, he says:
"I am Chief of the Black Hawk Band. These are my chosen warriors; the pick of my tribe. We go to hunt the Mishi-Mokwa, the Big Bear of the mountains. He is big and terrible. He kills our people every day. Many of us may die in the fight, but living or dead, we shall win glory. Now we dance the war dance".
All give the war whoop and dance, imitating a bear on his hind legs. At intervals, when the music changes, every other one strikes his neighbor on the back with his club, at which he turns and growls horribly.
Chief: "Now we go to seek the foe".
They set out, looking for the trail. They find it and follow, studying the ground, smelling it, peeking and pointing here and there till they get pretty close to the Big Bear, whereupon he rouses up with a growl. The warriors spring back, but, encouraged by the Chief, they form a circle and approach the bear. The Chief shouts:
"Ho, Mishi-Mokwa, we have found you. Come forth now, for I mean to club your head, and take that necklace for my own neck. Come forth now. You are very brave when you find an old squaw picking berries, but you do not like the looks of this band. If you do not come before I count a hundred, I shall brand you a coward wherever I go".
(As alternative reading, a verse):
"Mishi-Mokwa, we have found you, Come you forth and try our mettle. For I mean to club and brain you; Mean to take that magic necklace; Wear it for my own adorning. What! you dare not, valiant creature! You are absolutely fearless When you find a lot of children With their baskets, picking berries, But you do not like our war clubs; Noble creature, dauntless Grizzly!"
The bear springs forth, growling. He uses his club freely, trying to knock the hunters' hats off. Once a hat is off, the owner is dead and must drop beside it.
The bear makes for his second mountain or den, and he is safe as long as he is in, or touching, a den. But again the hunters force him to come out, by taunts and by counting. He must continue to go the rounds of his three dens till either the bear or all the hunters are killed.
One good blow on the bear's heart breaks it with a loud "bang." Then the bear must fall; he is dead. The warrior who dealt the fatal blow, no matter who, now becomes the leader, the others join in with war whoops. He takes the necklace from the bear's neck. Then, standing with one foot on the bear, he brandishes his club, shouting, "Ha, ha, how, now, Mishi-Mokwa! Yesterday you did not know me. Now you know me; know my war club. I am none but Hiawatha".
The surviving hunters drag the bear before the grandstand. The Medicine Man or Woman shouts, "Welcome, mighty Hiawatha, you have killed the Mishi-Mokwa." Hiawatha replies:
"Yes, we've killed the Mishi-Mokwa, But my band is now a remnant. On the hillsides, in the valleys, Many fighting men are lying. Many of my chosen warriors, Killed by fearful Mishi-Mokwa".
(Medicine Man): "What! is it true?" (All answer): "Yes; Gray Wolf is dead; Whooping Crane," and so on. (Medicine Man):
"Here bring me earth and fire and water, Bring me wood and plume of eagle, Bring me hair of Mishi-Mokwa".
(All run to get these things).
The Medicine Man makes a fire, throws in the things, and as the smoke goes up, he blows it with his robe to the four quarters of the heavens, saying:
"Hear me, Oh, ye four wind spirits, Though these warriors' souls have left us, Ye who have them in your keeping, Bring them back into their bodies. I command you by the magic Of the med'cine I have made me Of the scalp of Mishi-Mokwa, Hear me, Oh, ye stricken warriors".
(They all stir a little).
"Hear! Though dead, you all must hear me".
(They stir again).
"Hear me! Ho!"
(They all jump up and join the circle amid cheers and greetings from the others.) (The Medicine Man now says) :
"Honor be to Hiawatha, He hath saved his loving people. On his neck we place the necklace Of the bear claws and the wampum. So the tribes shall still remember He it was killed Mishi-Mokwa".
All join in a war-dance to drum, around the body of the bear.
If, on the other hand, all the hunters are killed by the bear, he comes forward and hands the necklace to the Medicine Man, saying:
"I'm the mighty Mountain Grizzly; Dead are those who sought to slay me. Mortal man cannot subdue me, But I bow me to your magic".
The Medicine Man takes the necklace, holds it up, and replies:
"Mishi-Mokwa of the mountains, You are chief of all the mighty, Keep the sacred wampum necklace, You have won it, wear it, keep it".
(He puts it on the bear's neck).
"You have won a name of glory, Henceforth all the tribes shall tremble At the name of Mishi-Mokwa.
But a truce I now command you: Manitou, whose children all are, Made the land for all his children; There is room for Bear and Hunters. Rise up, Brethren, greet your Brother, Valor always honors valor".
(All jump up now, cheering. They dance around the bear, shaking his paw, and grunting, "How, how, how.")
The winner, whether bear or chief, keeps the necklace as his own, and may have the title if he desires it; in one case, of Mishi-Mokwa, in the other of Hiawatha, Bear-killer, or Grizzly-chief.