Spirit Bear

Learn about the spirit bear known in Native American culture.

In the light of day, the spirit bear is a special species of black bear known only to a select few that live in the British Columbia area as well as a handful of islands near Alaska. It is an all-white bear known as Kermode Bear.  However, for the Native American culture, the Kermode bear is known as the Spirit Bear.

According to one of many Native American stories, the spirit bear was made white by the creator of the universe to remind its people the past period of time known as the ice age. It was said that the creator did this to remind the native people of the previous hardship living in all the snow and ice. In addition, in some tribes, the white spirit bear stands for harmony and peace.

It is thought that a spirit bear exists in about ten percent of all black bear births.  In actuality, the existence of the spirit bear can be blamed on a recessive characteristic in their genes.  The spirit bear really is not all white.  In truth, it is more off-white or creamy in color.  The spirit bear, also known as the Kermode bear, exists in British Columbia as mentioned before.

The number of sightings dwindled for years due to a lower spirit bear population.  However, thanks to some protection from the Canadian government, the Kermode bear is slowly climbing in numbers. It is mostly found in the British Columbia area of Canada, specifically the islands of Prince Rupert or Princess Royal.

In recognition of the Native American’s culture in the role of the spirit bear, the government of British Columbia named the spirit bear as the province’s representative animal. Even with this bestowed title, the spirit bear will forever remain a prominent symbol in local British Columbia Indian mythology.

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