Things That Go Bump in the Night–Yawkwawiak, the Giant Bear 1 comment

Y is another tricky letter but the Yawkwawiak makes a fine addition to the bestiary we are developing at Sorchia’s Universe

He’s also called Katshituashku by the Penobscot Nation and is an elephant-sized bear who enjoys munching on unwary nature-lovers—or anyone else who wanders into the forest.


The stiff-legged bear makes an appearance in the lore of several Native American tribes. The Penobscot Nation reports that the big, shaggy mammal can’t bend its legs and leans on trees to rest. If he were to lie down, Yawkwiawiak wouldn’t be able to get back up. His teeth are long enough to crunch through seven hunters at a time.

It is possible that the legend originated when a skeleton of a woolly mammoth or mastodon was unearthed by members of a Native American tribe. They might have come to the conclusion that the massive beast was a carnivorous monster because of its enormous tusks. Tales around the campfire may have become more and more colorful and the strange bones reanimated as the Yawkwawiak.

mastodon bones

Or maybe Native Americans can tell the difference between a mastodon and a bear and somewhere in the woods, Yawkwawiak is asleep in a cave dreaming of his next meal.




About SorchiaD

Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with eight cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband. A proud member of the Scottish Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.

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