Some Indians believed that it was possible to draw power from a bear by dreaming of one, by killing and eating part of one or by even touching a bear. These actions made a warrior invincible. Because of the Indians' beliefs that the bear had spiritual power, wearing a bear claw necklace meant protection and good health to the Indian wearing it. The Abenaki tribe believe that the stars of the Big Dipper are the Great Bear (Kchi-awasos). According to Abenaki mythology the Great Bear is chased every night by three hunters. The Great Bear is killed every fall and his blood drips to earth turning the leaves brown but he is reborn every spring. For interesting information refer to Power Animals.
Many Native American cultures feature Skinwalkers or a similar concept in which a shaman or Medicine Man may, according to cultural tradition, take on an animal form such as a bear. The picture below illustrates a Medicine Man of the Blackfoot tribe taking on the animal form of a bear.