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21D Little Bear Peak

Location: San Bernardino County, California

Name derived from Little Bear Valley which is cited in the Wheeler Survey Atlas map 73 (1878). The "Little" refers not to the size of a bear but to distinguish this valley from nearby Big Bear Valley. Both in turn are derived from "Bear Lake" (now known as "Baldwin Lake") which was named by Benjamin D. Wilson. He discovered a great number of bears in this area (and killed 22) while on the trail of escaping rustlers (1845). This large population existed because of a different attitude by the Indians toward these creatures. To them a bear could be a bear, or it could be a man in the guise of a bear, or it could be a spirit animal. In any case, the Grizzly (ursus arctos) and other animals were not hunted as sport, but today there are no bears in this area. Throughout North America the bear was peculiarly respected because of his resemblance to humans. Bears are now extinct in the Big Bear area.

There are widespread Indian stories concerning bear-woman. Shamans frequently impersonated bears to acquire their attributes, and they were believed able to "ride the bear" as an example of their special powers.

Elsewhere the bear has played an important role since prehistoric times as a creature resembling humans and serving as a mediator between heaven and earth, it was considered to be an ancestor of humans. In Europe the Bear, rather than the Lion was considered the King of beasts, and during the medieval period its hibernation was symbolic of death and rebirth. Alchemists saw the bear as representing the "nigrendo" (obscurity and mystery) of the "prima materia" and hence it is related to all initial stages and the instincts. The Greeks associated the bear with Artemis, and bear skins were prized as protection against the premature sexual involvement of pubescent women. Since the Bear was found in the company of Diana it was considered a lunar animal. In Christian symbolism the Bear sometimes represents the devil, or the mortal sin of gluttony, unless it is maternal whereupon it represents the Virgin birth. In Greek and Latin the word for bear is always of feminine gender reflecting the bear's positive ethical qualities of caring for its young. However, in the analysis of dreams the Bear is considered a symbol of the perilous aspect of the unconscious and is an attribute of cruelty.

Name first appears on USFS San Bernardino National Forest map (1965).

Peak was on the original 1946 HPS Peak List.

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