THE TWIN BEAR STORY POLE
In the fall of 2005, Rand Jack
found a 300+ year-old red cedar log in the log yard of the Oeser
Company in Bellingham, Washington. A tag on the log indicated
that it had been cut down by Georgia Pacific in 1982 at the base
of the Twin Sisters in Whatcom County, Washington, near the confluence
of Hayden and Fish Creeks.
Finding this magnificent log inspired
Rand to carve the story pole shown in the images that follow.
The figures on the pole are Rand's version of traditional images
carved on ancient poles by Northwest Coast Native Americans.
The pole depicts the environmental morality tale told below.
On June 27, 2009, under the direction of wilderness bridge and
trail builder Russ Pfeiffer-Hoyt, a community of friends moved
the Twin Bear Story Pole from Rand's workshop to its permanent
home at the new children's museum in Bellingham.
The twin baby bears in the mother
bear's womb are a sign of the fecundity of nature that we are
all responsible to protect.
THE STORY OF THE TWIN BEAR POLE
A very long time ago, Raven sat
on a sandstone cliff overlooking the Nooksack River. Raven was
a curious, some would say mischievous, fellow. As he surveyed
the landscape from his lofty perch, everything seemed entirely
too calm and orderly for his taste. Raven was bored. He decided
to fly to a world far away and bring back Humans to this Earth.
Certainly that would shake things up and make life more interesting.
Raven knew that for Humans to get
along on Earth, they would need some help. Humans do not have
thick fur like Bear to keep them warm, and they can't swim in
the ocean like Orca. So from that far away world, Raven brought
in his beak a cedar cone. From the seeds of that cone would grow
giant cedar trees, and Humans would have wooden beams for houses,
cedar bark for clothes, and tree trunks for canoes.
Because Humans could not fly or
run very fast, they would have trouble catching food. So Raven
went to the Salmon People and asked if they would swim up the
rivers right to where Humans lived. The Salmon People were wary.
Why should they make it easy for Humans to eat them? Raven had
to bargain hard. He promised to make the Salmon People into five
races, each distinctively beautiful and fit to survive. Raven
also promised that Humans would always treat the Salmon People
Raven knew that Humans would need
wisdom to survive on Earth. So Raven went to owl, who had great
wisdom. He asked Owl to share some wisdom with Humans. Owl was
skeptical. She thought sharing with Humans would be a waste of
good wisdom. But Raven was cunning and convinced Owl that even
a little wisdom for Humans would be a great improvement.
Raven understood that if Humans
were going to paddle their cedar canoes in the ocean, they would
have to live in harmony and with respect for Orca, the most powerful
creature of the sea. Raven also understood that if Humans were
going to live in their cedar homes in the forests, they would
have to live in harmony and with respect for Bear, the most powerful
creature of the forest.
If Humans cease to respect Orca
and Bear, Salmon will no longer swim up the rivers. Cedar trees
will stop growing straight and tall as needed for houses, canoes,
and story poles. Humans will no longer be part of the Earth Community.
Some Humans have come to think that they no longer need the Salmon
People to return, the cedars to grow tall and straight, the wisdom
of Owl or membership in the Earth community. Some have stopped
respecting Orca and Bear. But the truth is, Humans need the natural
world just as much today as when Raven brought them and a cedar
cone to this Earth.