How a Bear Brings Happiness on the Pow Wow Trail

How a Bear Brings Happiness on the Pow Wow Trail


What started out as a gift for her grandson turned into a gift for many.


Shirley Hill is a fancy shawl dancer from the Siksika Nation in Canada. As any grandmother would do, she saw a cute puppet she thought her grandson would love and immediately purchased it. She brought the bear puppet to him and he named it Lemon, after the orange cat down the street.

She started to bring Lemon to the Aboriginal Head Start Program where she works, and the children fell in love too. “Lemon helps the preschoolers to promote patience, sharing, socializing skills, laughter, communication skills, and creative thought. He creates calmness,” Hill says.


“Lemon brings his guitar to every elementary school where I do a cultural performance (Fancy Shawl Dance). Lemon loves the children. We sing songs with the whole class or the whole school. During my work with foster children and youth, Lemon made a funny video with the kids, and the youth dressed him up. They made Lemon a new hat.”

It's safe to say the kids feel comfortable around Lemon and the children can be themselves. Lemon will still love them no matter what. Hill says that Lemon helped to calm a young girl in the hospital, who was going in for surgery on her eye.

And it's not just the kids that love Lemon. Hill has also taken Lemon around the elders too.

“One elder, about 87 years old, took lemon pet him on the head, she held Lemon and then Lemon whispered something in her ear. Another elder, a buckskin dancer offered to pay double the price I paid for Lemon, when I denied his request, he said he would throw in some moose meat. Unfortunately, Lemon is not for sale,” Hill says.


Now this bear is very well traveled. He's probably hit up way more pow wows than most this year! Lemon has been to Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM, Regina Pow Wow, Ochapowace, Calgary Stampede Indian Village Pow Wow and Stampede Pancake Breakfasts, Swift Current Pow Wow, Aboriginal Day June 21st, Canada Day celebrations, O'Chiese, Kainai Celebration, Tsuu t'ina, Siksika, Gordon First Nation, Kehewin, Piikani, Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, Nakoda ­ Good Stoney Pow Wow in Morley, Sycuan CA, Tuolumne, Soboba, Morongo, Santa Ynez, Prince Albert, Sask., Milwaukee, WI, Browning, MT, Saskatoon, and many schools and cultural dance performances. Wow! Their favorite pow wow so far was Gathering of Nations 2014, as Lemon was greeted by many friends.


Lemon also likes to advocate for dogs and cats, so they can have a forever home. Lemon has been to the Albuquerque pet rescue, the San Diego Humane Society and always greets stray rez dogs at the pow wows.

In the future Hill would like to make an affirmation booklet and a coloring book to pass on the positive message to the children.


Here's what some of the children and parents have said about Lemon:

“He visited my classroom and his visit turned into a social studies lesson about where (on the globe) Canada is, in relation to California. The same visit extended in language arts where his visit prompted students to construct writing pieces.”

“When we go to a pow wow my daughter asks me if Shirley and Lemon are there. She wants to see Lemon as she really adores and loves Lemon. Her eyes light up. When we are at home she asks to see Lemon via Facebook. Lemon is a beautiful spirit bear that brings joy, love and happiness to many children and adults. Lemon is part of the circle and I really enjoy the happiness and smiles he brings to us.”

“Sweet Lemon, he gets to go to so many places and powwows. He is such a lucky bear. We luv Lemon”

“The day we went to the beach in California was a beautiful fun day in itself, but having Lemon with us brought even more laughter to our spirits. Like I said that day, ‘Awww I wish he was real!'”

“I wish he came to our school”

“My son was introduced to Lemon this past summer and played with him for a long while. Some days later, as we usually say prayers for all our friends and relatives, he inserted ‘and we pray for Lemon too mummy'. He remembered Lemon and felt him to be close to his heart, as a friend who brought joy and laughter.”

So if you happen to see a bear on the pow wow trail, don't be afraid and go say hi! Check out Lemon the Bear on Facebook to see where their travels take them.

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

3 Comments on “How a Bear Brings Happiness on the Pow Wow Trail”

  • Avatar for Mandy



    Looking to get in touch with Shirley hill again. Wondering if she would be available for a school visit. Thank you for your help. Mandy.

    • Avatar for Shirley Hill

      Shirley Hill


      Good morning Mandy, Please email your request and I would look forward to visiting your school.

      Thanks, Shirley and Lemon the Bear

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