Twin
Story Pole
Bear
Raven with cedar cone
(top of pole)
Carved by Rand Jack in traditional
Northwest Coast Native-American style
Raven with cedar cone
(top of pole)


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.

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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 with respect.

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.

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Click photographs to enlarge
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