If you're from Michigan, you've probable heard of the legend of Sleeping Bear dunes, a story that has been passed on from the Native American storytelling tradition.

But somebody just told me a version with a happy ending. So which one is correct?

The story that I had always heard is the one that is posted on the Sleeping Bear Dunes official web site:

Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear.

It's very sad, but very poignant, and I think was used as a warning story by Native American moms to get their kids to stay within shouting distance of the shore while swimming.

But lately, two people have told me a story that has a happier ending, where the Great Manitou revives the bear cubs and the islands are actually the cubs playing in the lake while their mom watches. I think it's been cleaned up by some parents who didn't want their kids to know the awful truth (like the grandpa in Princess Bride).

Here's the new ending from a Reddit post:

Sympathizing with her loss, the Great Spirit Manitou raised the two cubs from the depths of the lake and created North and South Manitou Islands. The mother bear became a great sand dune and even today she keeps watch over her two cubs.

So which ending is it? And why do I so badly want it to be the more tragic ending?

This story time video I found tends to lean towards the happy ending, and you can hear the disappointment in the kid's voice that the cubs didn't die.

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