Title: Dawn of the Great Bear
(Sequel to Nipmuck Country)
Print Size: 20 x 26 inches
Edition Size: 900 Signed & Numbered Prints - 100 Remarqued Artist Proofs
Price each: $60 ~ click here to purchase

On the dawn of August 12, 1676, Philip was camped on Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island, depicted here in the distance. He had returned after a year’s absence in an unsuccessful bid to reclaim his homeland from the rapidly expanding English colony. As the early morning mist was rising across Mount Hope Bay, he related a dream he had that night to a group of his counselors. In it one of his people had betrayed him to the English and soon their soldiers would be upon them for the last time. The events that followed – the overthrow of the Wampanoag and the other Indian Nations of Southern New England – foreshadowed the eventual fate of indigenous peoples all across America.

In the foreground is the black bear and in the distant sky is the asterism known as the Big Dipper; it is part of the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear).  Edward Winslow wrote in 1623 that the Indians of Southern New England knew many stars by name and referred to this constellation as “maske,” the Great Bear.

Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are known in the Navajo creation myth as Revolving Male and Revolving Female. They know it’s time to plant when Revolving Male is parallel to the horizon in early evening (late May or early June). The position of Revolving Male also indicates when different animals are likely to mate, and when they will bear offspring.

The bear has served traditional people as a guide in their ongoing search for earth wisdom. Few other animals have been as highly revered by Native people. The bear is not only considered the embodiment of wisdom and power because of its intelligence and survival skills, but also because of its apparent death in the fall and triumphant awakening in the spring, it is a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. The feminine principal of birth, growth, death, decay and rebirth lies at the heart of the veneration of the bear for it is the supreme model and therefore the guiding spirit of the theme of renewal.

When the first settlers arrived in New England, they came in the biblical tradition; to be fruitful, to multiply and subdue the earth. Our society has begun to question the settlers’ ethic that humans hold inalienable rights to waste and spoil for the sake of progress. In the words of Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Oglala Sioux, “only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land infested with wild animals and savage people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.”

The Dawn of the Great bear honors the spirit of King Philip and the survival of his people amid great hardships. It symbolically marks the return of the spirit to all the tribes of New England in their quest for rebirth as nations and lauds all who share in their commitment to be caretakers of the earth.