Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sun Bear's Legacy

My wife and I drove out with Kim and Trenton to visit my friend Edward. He owns a sizable chunk of land near Corkscrew Canyon Road that once belonged to a man by the name of Sun Bear. I don't know much about Sun Bear, except to say he established a non-profit organization known as the Bear Tribe, dedicated to teaching respect for Mother Earth and preserving spiritual practices from a variety of traditions. He died in the early 1990s.

The Bear Tribe no longer uses the site in any kind of organized manner, but a certain spirit of the land remains. Edward guided us through the area, scattered with cabins, stone medicine wheels, a "longhouse," a spring, and remnants of sacred doings from years ago.

Apparently people continue to visit informally and hold the land in reverence. In the short time we toured the site, someone visited unawares and placed an offering of fresh flowers at the center of one of the medicine wheels. We never saw the person, only the flowers, freshly cut and still unwithered by the sun.

When I was a teenager, I heard some disparaging comments about the Bear Tribe from other Native people, but I don't recall the exact nature of the criticism. I'm sure it had something to do with prejudice against "New Agers," but in spite of this vague and somewhat negative memory, I felt a strange power emanating from the land. The land itself is sacred, and holds echoes of the ones who most recently resided here and used the land for a sacred purpose.

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