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Of Awe, Wonder, and Cultural Connections with Grizzly Bears

The following essays delve into the meaning of bears in ancient and modern cultures, and explore why bears, especially grizzlies, fill us with wonder. With a mother bear’s ability to survive in a hole in the ground for four to five months -- seemingly dead -- only to reemerge with young cubs, grizzlies have long symbolized transformation, rebirth and renewal. This collection explores ancient bear stories, bears in the stars, ancient cave paintings and our language, and current efforts by Native Americans to protect grizzlies.

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Inviting the Chief of the Grizzlies to Our Feast   October 20, 2019

This essay examines a Tlingit story about an old man who invites the chief of the grizzlies to a feast, as an example of the attitude of reverence, respect and interrelatedness between humans and bears that once prevailed – but that has been significantly replaced by the Western ethos of domination and violence.

Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North    January 17, 2019

This essay explores bears in the sky, and the important role that the constellations Ursa Major (Big Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear) – or the Big and Little Dippers – played in ancient cultures throughout the Northern Hemisphere – and today. 


Denned Up As Grizzlies Emerge: Reawakening Awe and Wonder   April 18, 2020

Written during the 2020 COVID lockdowns, this essay delves into the power of intimate encounters with wild animals to renew and restore us, and examines what authors and scientists suggest may be behind our sense of awe and wonder, when time seems to slow down as our sense of space opens up.

Exorcizing Wendigo to Save Grizzlies, Ourselves   September 23, 2019

This essay examines what is behind current anti-carnivore policies through the lens of the Algonquin story of the monster Wendigo, a human corrupted by greed who becomes possessed by superhuman strength and devours its victims – and the shaman who exorcizes Wendigo and shows us a compassionate and skilled path to dealing with monstrous and destructive forces.


Chauvet vs Cheney: Choices in Our Relationships with Grizzly Bears   April 4, 2016

This essay explores the Chauvet caves in France, where ancient artists adorned the walls with cave bears and other animals nearly 40,000 years ago, and compares this celebratory view of wild animals with the attitude of Dick Cheney in Louisa’s play “Dreaming with Cheney.”

Tribal Grizzly Bear Treaty Redefines Recovery of the Great Bear   October 10, 2016

This essay covers the 2016 signing in Jackson, WY, of an historic tribal grizzly bear treaty in Canada and the US, that called for a ban on trophy hunting of grizzlies and for a meaningful role in managing our endangered bruins. The treaty was eventually signed by over 270 Tribes, Tribal elders, and Tribal societies.

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