Shingletown's Totem Pole
Shingletown Home Page
More John Welch Works
The Animal Council Totem Pole
In the beginning the animals and the birds gathered each year in Northern California to have their Annual Council Meeting to talk about what they could do to make their mountains a better place to live. These meetings had been going on since time began but usually there was little that they wanted to change.
But the Raven, the Trickster, now he was up to his usual tricks. Once when the animals were having their Annual Council Meeting in a big meadow, Raven felt the other animals weren't paying enough attention to what he had to say. So he flew up into the sky until he saw a body of water in Northern California( it would later be called Oregon) that he thought would suit his needs. He dove to the bottom of the lake and drank it all up.
Now this was a pretty big feat even for Raven with all his magical powers. Getting up in the air once again wasn't easy either. But he flew up, up, until he was flying among the clouds circling higher and higher until he was over the big meadow where the animals were having their meeting. He opened up his beak and spit out the lake. It hit the ground like the mother of all cloud bursts. Now I am here to tell you that spoiled the day for all the animals and they broke up their meeting for the rest of the year.
Oh, that spot is now called Eagle Lake and has some of the biggest trout you will find anywhere.
In the meanwhile man moved into the area and was making one big mess of the place. "What are we going to do about the people?" The Grizzly bear wanted to know. "I chase them off and they just keep coming back. They are such a sorry mess that I sorta feel sorry for them." Well the other animals felt pretty much like the bear did.They all had stories similar to the bears as to how helpless the people were. They huddled under trees with big bonfires trying to keep warm and dry. Like as not they would catch the tree on fire and burn down half the forest before the fire would burn itself out.
So it was that the Animal Council held a special meeting and decided they had to help the people if they were going to save their beloved forest on the mountain. They could see that the people loved the mountains too and wouldn't leave. The Grizzly bear said he would provide fish for them so they wouldn't starve and would stop chasing them so they could put on a little fat for the winter. The Beaver said he would provide the logs and help them build homes so they would stop chopping down all the trees for fire wood. Raven said he would make the shingles so they would have a roof over their heads and maybe some more so they could sell them for the things they would need for the coming year. So the Beaver cut some extra logs as per the Ravens instructions.
The Raven took all the logs high up in the sky and dropped them on Mt. Lassen. Now this many logs falling on the hard rock roof of Mt. Lassen caused the Thunderbird that lived there to blow his top. That was about 1914 and I am here to tell you, it was one hot old time on the hill and surrounding area. Rocks fell all over the place not to mention the logs that broke up into sizes suitable for shingles, and that was what Raven intended.
( That was why it was called Shingle Ridge, because shingles were made there and this later became Shingletown as it is known today.)
Well Thunderbird was flying all over the area throwing lightning and rolling thunder everywhere. Raven saw this wouldn't do so he called to Thunderbird to " Cool it."
After awhile Thunderbird cooled down enough that Raven could tell him what the Animal Council was trying to do and why. Now Thunderbird saw right off how it was and he confided that he could do with some peace and quiet too. So he said he could sorta stand watch over the people and protect them as it were. That way the community could grow and prosper..
The Stellar Jay hopped up and said he had lots of brothers and sisters and they would be glad to help the town and it's people. So they dispersed all over the area alookin for trouble. That's why today when you see a Stellar Jay fly up on a limb, they hop up and up the tree to the top where they can see danger better.
That's what the Animal Council is doin today. Looking after Shingletown and all it's people so the town can grow and prosper. Maybe thats why the people look out for their neighbors and friends.. they learned it from the Animal Council.
Who knows: Maybe some day Shingletown will have a department this and a department that....and maybe even a Mayor. People are like that, they like to tell others what to do.
But if you would like the Animal Council to look out for you and your loved ones just step up to the Animal Council Totem Pole and say it straight out. Like as not they will probably want to protect you too.
Bronzes by John Welch
Carvings by John Welch