Big Bear Lake’s Ancient Past

Big Bear LakeApproximately 2500 years ago, Big Bear Lake was populated by a group of Native Americans known as the Serrano Indian tribe.   Because of the mountains and the terrain, the Serrano Indian referred to the territory as “Yuhaviat” which means”Pine Place”.

The Serrano Indians inhabited large, communal dwellings of 10 to 30 round buildings Blocated along fresh water sources.   Covered with woven mats and supported by willow branches, each family had a fireplace for their own private gathering space. They subsisted on berries, nuts, tubers, acorns, and the plentiful game they harvested along the lush valley.

The Serrano’s were known for their handcrafts consisting of baskets and vessels with mother-of-pearl inlays. The men did not wear clothing and the women wore deerskin, otter, and rabbit furs.

They did not wear bear skins. Why?

The Serrano looked at the native grizzly bears as the reincarnated spirits of their ancestors. These powerful creatures were integrated into their worship services and into their folklore. They did not eat the meat or wear the fur.  As such, several contemporary communities in the area feature place names that reflect the source of Big Bear region’s rich Native history. These include Yucaipa, Cucamonga, and Muscupiabe.

As I busy myself with the daily activities of running an inn, it makes me happy to  imagine the Serrano peoples  living a peaceful, tranquil life among these spectacular surroundings, creating their beautiful baskets. Their land, at that time, untouched by civilization and all its trappings.  No cell phones, no laptops, no high speed connections.  Just the land, the water and the mountains.

I spend a lot of time at the Inn and it makes me happy to imagine the Serrano people living a peaceful, tranquil life among these spectacular surroundings as they create their beautiful baskets. I picture their land, at that time untouched by modern civilization and all of its trappings.  A time without cell phones, or laptops; no high speed anything – just the sound of nature, the clean air and the beautiful surroundings.  And, I realize, maybe that’s a little bit of what Big Bear Frontier, or any other resort here, has to offer.  A chance to commune with nature in the beauty of Big Bear, just as the Serrano Indians did so long ago.

Though we do have wireless internet and TV just in case.


*a quick note: I love history and I love Big Bear! So it was natural for me to want to start blogging about the history of Big Bear.  I lot of this I ‘ just know’, so citing a sources is a bit difficult. I fact checked from Wikipedia, but most of the info comes from my visits to the Big Bear Museum (link) and anecdotal information I’ve picked up over the years.-Hilda

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