Monday, February 03, 2014

A Little Bit About Bears

(Hints for recognizing possibly Bear Effigies in Indigenous Stonework)
Actually, the first construction I came across that I knew had to have been more likely made by a Native American (during Contact time or before) was a bear and not a turtle. I suspected some serpentine and zigzag "stone walls" and some standing stones to be so, but after following a stream into a now swampy area, I felt this one was made and used by Indigenous People.

      And I'll link you to this { Taking apart a rock pile without taking it apart} rather than repeat the same old story here. It was written around the time I was urging someone far away not to take apart a stone mound in order to date it (- and I mean "assign a possible year of construction," not "take it to the dance!") and instead just look for possible artistic representations of turtles or other effigies. Technically, one boulder with two stones on it is a "rock pile," but if there's any sort of a stone construction I've ever seen that I'm going to guess has a specific purpose, this is one I am about 100% sure is a Tobacco Offering or Sacrifice Stone, my reasons given in that link. Stones like this may sometimes get labelled an "Altar." For instance, "Obed's Sacrifice Rock" in Saybrook CT is more commonly (and Eurocentrically) known as "Obed's Altar (Alter)". (See:'s%20altar%20saybrook&f=false)
     Maybe the exact usage of this stone will never be known - either some hunting ceremony or perhaps a daily prayer as implied in that story about Obed - but it certainly qualifies as a Sacred Site in more than one way by definition. {See: or

 And yes, this is the one that will rock back and forth if you get it going: 

       I don't know if the Bear Head Stone is less weathered because of the kind of rock it is or because it is only about 350 years old, created in or around 1659 when the nearby Village was occupied by Indigenous People, any more than I can guess the age of this stone (well, at least I'm sure it is definitely post glacial) and either its natural occurrence as "similar to a bear" or if it too were pecked and polished to more resemble a bear:
I can't tell what animal this might be, but I'm pretty sure this eye was enhanced, since there are several more like it nearby that also appear to have much the same, especially when placed just so, at the points of a zigzag stone row along both sides of an Indian Trail that is at present a modern road:
The next example is just to the west of the above stone. It might be a turtle when viewed looking south:
But looking westward at the same stone, I can't help but think it resembles a bear:
Here's another similar but not identical bear-like profile, perhaps 6 miles away:

I didn't take this photo, but it reminds me of a bear as well:
My friend Barry photographed this up on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.

John Muir once wrote:
"All the Indians believe to this day that the grizzly bear can talk, if you will only sit still when he comes up and hear what he has to say. But this may not be advisable. However, I know one wrinkled and leather-looking old woman, a century old perhaps, who used almost daily go out to a heap of rocks on the edge of a thicket and talk, as she said, with a grizzly bear. She was greatly respected." From:

This blog has a bunch more "Bear" entries, if you care to search for them in the search field at the top left of the page - and so does Rock Piles where I may now and then say: "Hey! That looks like a Bear!" in the comments I found a copy of the Bear Stone discovery story and photos that used to be on the Neara Site:

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