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Indian Heeds a Call of the Bear

A Cree Indian has completed a 2,700-mile run from Edmonton, Canada, to New York City to lay claim to a sacred relic stored in the American Museum of Natural History. Carrying a curved staff draped with eagle feathers for strength and wearing a wolf pelt for protection, Jim Thunder said he was driven by a recurring dream in which Chief Big Bear of the Crees instructed him to retrieve the artifact--a parcel of calico holding bear claws, a clump of sweet grass and a plug of tobacco. Big Bear, leader of the Plains Cree, made the sacred bundle about 150 years ago when he was about 13 years old and wore it into battle for strength and guidance. In 1934, Big Bear’s son gave it to a museum researcher in western Canada for safekeeping. Since that time, the museum has kept it as part of a research collection but has never put it on display. Thunder and a small delegation of Indians were to meet with museum officials who will decide whether to give up the parcel. Thunder told about 100 Indians and supporters: “We are confident that we will get the bundle back because since the 1930s there have been prophesies that it would return.”

--After 40 years, 11,000 performances and 500 stitches, legendary tiger tamer Gunther Gebel-Williams has decided it’s time to call it quits before his skills start to fade. The 54-year-old performer, who is beginning his two-year farewell tour with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, said: “I’m still very strong, but when you get older your eyesight begins to go and I have to wear glasses offstage. But I can’t wear them in the ring.” Williams became famous for his ability to control animals without the usual whip, chair or pistol. In his current show, he puts Bengal and Siberian tigers through their paces, stands on the back of a charging elephant and puts Lippizaner horses through a ballet routine. “I am very close to my cats,” he said, “but I can’t ever let down my guard because while I can succeed in training them, I can never tame them.”

--The name Endeavor, one of 18th-Century British explorer Capt. James Cook’s ships, tops the list of suggested names for the next space shuttle in a competition among the nation’s schoolchildren. The second most popular choice is Resolution, the name of another of Cook’s vessels, followed by Victoria, the name of the ship used by Ferdinand Magellan, the 16th-Century Portuguese navigator. More than 6,100 teams, formed by 71,650 students, submitted research projects supporting and justifying the names selected. NASA is letting schoolchildren choose the name of the shuttle to replace Challenger, which exploded in January, 1986. The final choice will be announced in May.


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