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When grizzlies walked upright

California’s official seal and flag (which, interestingly enough, in its first iteration [pictured] shows the grizzly walking upright)
California’s official seal and flag (which, interestingly enough, in its first iteration [pictured] shows the grizzly walking upright)

Before there were people on the earth, the Chief of the Sky Spirits grew tired of his home in the Above World, because the air was always brittle with an icy cold. So he carved a hole in the sky with a stone and pushed all the snow and ice down below until he made a great mound that reached from the earth almost to the sky. Today it is known as Mount Shasta. Then the Sky Spirit took his walking stick, stepped from a cloud to the peak, and walked down to the mountain. When he was about half-way to the valley below, he began to put his finger to the ground here and there, here and there. Wherever his finger touched, a tree grew. The snow melted in his footsteps, and the water ran down in rivers. The Sky Spirit broke off the small end of his giant stick and threw the pieces into the river. The longer pieces turned into beaver and otter; the smaller pieces became fish. When the leaves dropped from the trees, he picked them up, blew upon them, and so made the birds. Then he took the big end of his giant stick and made all the animals that walked on the earth, the biggest of which were the grizzly bears.

— from “When Grizzlies Walked Upright” in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon 1984), Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz

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Chief of the Sky Spirits is the creator figure in the creation myths of the Medoc, the indigenous people of northeastern California and central Southern Oregon (although they currently reside in Oregon and Oklahoma). In this account of creation, reported by ethnologist Ella E. Clark (1896–1998), Chief of the Sky Spirits creates all the animals — including the animal that graces California’s official seal and flag (which, interestingly enough, in its first iteration [pictured] shows the grizzly walking upright).

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California’s official seal and flag (which, interestingly enough, in its first iteration [pictured] shows the grizzly walking upright)
California’s official seal and flag (which, interestingly enough, in its first iteration [pictured] shows the grizzly walking upright)

Before there were people on the earth, the Chief of the Sky Spirits grew tired of his home in the Above World, because the air was always brittle with an icy cold. So he carved a hole in the sky with a stone and pushed all the snow and ice down below until he made a great mound that reached from the earth almost to the sky. Today it is known as Mount Shasta. Then the Sky Spirit took his walking stick, stepped from a cloud to the peak, and walked down to the mountain. When he was about half-way to the valley below, he began to put his finger to the ground here and there, here and there. Wherever his finger touched, a tree grew. The snow melted in his footsteps, and the water ran down in rivers. The Sky Spirit broke off the small end of his giant stick and threw the pieces into the river. The longer pieces turned into beaver and otter; the smaller pieces became fish. When the leaves dropped from the trees, he picked them up, blew upon them, and so made the birds. Then he took the big end of his giant stick and made all the animals that walked on the earth, the biggest of which were the grizzly bears.

— from “When Grizzlies Walked Upright” in American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon 1984), Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz

Sponsored
Sponsored

Chief of the Sky Spirits is the creator figure in the creation myths of the Medoc, the indigenous people of northeastern California and central Southern Oregon (although they currently reside in Oregon and Oklahoma). In this account of creation, reported by ethnologist Ella E. Clark (1896–1998), Chief of the Sky Spirits creates all the animals — including the animal that graces California’s official seal and flag (which, interestingly enough, in its first iteration [pictured] shows the grizzly walking upright).

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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