Legend of the Sleeping Bear

by Lucas Joel
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes are fantastic for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and sledding. Credit: left: ©iStockphoto.com/ RiverNorthPhotography; below: National Park Service

Sleeping Bear Dunes gets its name from a Chippewa legend that tells the story of a mother bear and her two cubs who, fleeing a fire in the woods of Wisconsin on the other side of Lake Michigan, plunged into the lake and began swimming to find safe haven. But the swim was tiring, and the cubs soon fell behind their mother. Upon reaching Michigan’s shores, the mother bear climbed out of the water, turned and watched, waiting for her cubs to join her. The cubs came into sight, but, too tired to finish the journey, they drowned just before reaching shore. The mother then lay down and fell into a slumber, forever awaiting her cubs. A spirit known as the Great Spirit Manitou created two islands — North and South Manitou islands — to commemorate the spot where the cubs' journey ended, and then covered the mother with sand, forming the famous dune at the lakeshore.

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