Following the age-old traditions of his tribe, a young Native American boy on the verge of puberty receives his final instructions from the elder who has been his teacher and departs for several days of solitude in the deep forest. He is in quest of a vision, a dramatic experience that will reveal who the holy powers want him to be as an adult. Fasting, letting the solitude take over his soul, and trying to keep his spirit pure, he waits for an all-important revelation. On the fourth day it comes. A black bear crashes into his sacred space. The boy watches the bear intently. The bear pauses and seems to consider him at leisure. As the bear turns to leave, the boy hears in the depths of his mind the words, "Fear nothing. Walk through the world unhurried, with dignity." Returning to his teacher, the boy tells what he has experienced. The teacher is pleased: "Black bear will be your new name. Pray mightily that the spirit of this great brother will stand by you. Remember his message. Live without fear, as he does. Walk like a chief." Presenting the boy to the rest of the tribe, the teacher is aglow with pride. The chief asks him to lead the ceremonies celebrating Black Bear's coming of age, which he does with great dignity. The vision-quest was a crucial experience for many Native American boys. Not to receive a vision could mean that one lived among the women, one's manhood indistinct, compromised.