The brown bear had many different meanings and stories throughout all Indian tribes.
The Brown bear has always been part of Native American Indian history; for as long as Native American Indians have been around, so has the big beast. The big beast showed gentleness, but could also be fierce. All in all, the bear was a magnificent creature that they respected. They knew a mother bear would fight to protect her cubs, just like any mother would do. She could also be gentle and quiet, however, and she was just as good a hunter as the Indians.
Many Indians have different stories for the brown bear, and there is a special meaning throughout all tribes. The brown bear stands for courage, strength, protection and life. If an Indian was given a name that included "bear", he knew that the tribe thought that he was brave. Most of the time it would be because they went through a tough time in life, like if their parents had died and they took care of their family, or they got into a fight with a bear and lived. When an Indian receives a gift like this, they get to tell the story again.
The Nez Perce tribe have a story called, “The Man that Married a Bear". It shows a bear pretending to be a human girl and trying to get the interest of a man. In many ways, if you look at the story you can see that the bear is curious by nature, especially when there are strange intruders. The bear never does hurt the man and the man is just as curious. Together they find a common ground and become one, as husband and wife. The brown bear does die in the story by the man’s own tribe, then he is brought back home but disappears soon after.
There are several different legends that surround the brown bear, and many of these stories were passed down from one generation to the next. Each story holds its own special meaning. If you ever get a chance, stop in your library or buy a book on the Native American Legends to learn a bit more about their history.