Great Bear

Follow your curiosity
the truth is in your heart
the truth you know.

Adventurer of the North and Bering Straits,
the new world, Turtle Island awaits.
A million years ago Alaska called you –
a million years ago you crossed.

Great Bear, curious wanderer
do you still scent the winds,
are you fishing King Salmon waters,
do you claw and mark the aspen stands,
are you lured still to mountain rivers?

What kind of bears are these –
playing hide and seek with their shadows,
gazing at sunsets and shooting stars,
sliding down snowbanks and hiking in moonlight?
Curious Onlookers, keepers of power and natural dignity.

Great Bear, Montana’s majestic
Ruler of the land. Legendary master,
Glacier King, mountain monarch –
I need to know you are there.

Great Bear, “the looming other”
From the Rocky Mountain wilderness.
Less are the horse, the dog and even the grey wolf,
Kiayo, master of instinct and reason,
Teacher of humility and wild virtues.
No civilization and zoos for you.

Roam the shining mountains
your wild dominant domain.

Greatest of wild animals, mountain king
verged now on extinction and doom/
the white man’s blade,
touching the life.

What has come to the solitary woods,
The timeless green summer forests?
Domestication and loss.
Great Bear, keeper of the wilderness,
Civilization has passed you by.

Outlaw Grizzlies, sleeping in the den,
touched by starlight, wonder and wildness
fierce with pride of liberty and freedom,
jealous and proud enough to see these virtues threatened.

Out of the woods, the gray solitude.
An old bear, fierce and ruthless.
Old Priam, solitary, indomitable and alone
Master of the wild invincible spirit’s truth

Honor, pride, pity, justice, courage and love
Love, courage, justice, pity, pride and honor

The truth that is one
the truth that doesn’t change
the truth that covers all things
touching the heart.

By Jay Hansford C. Vest

grizzly bear on rocky mountain trail

Jay Hansford C. Vest, Ph.D.
Enrolled member Monacan Indian Nation
Direct descendent Opechanchanough (Pamunkey)
Honorary Pikuni (Blackfeet) in Ceremonial Adoption (June 1989)
Professor of American Indian Studies
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
One University Drive (P. O. Box 1510)
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510 USA

Photo by byrdyak

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