Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Native American Way

While celebrating the birth of Arlene's newest great-grandchild, I've been thinking a great deal about my friend.

Arlene is a member of the Bear Clan. In the Anishnabe culture, the Bear Clan were the warriors and protectors of the people. Arlene's native name is Mosadem, (I probably have the spelling wrong), which loosely translates as the "Bear who walks where she wants". The name fits her perfectly as she is strong, independent, brave, and insists on doing what she considers the right thing no matter what other people may think. Bear clan members are devoted to family and fiercely protective of their family members and so is she.

Being Arlene's friend has allowed me the privilege of attending many native ceremonies and functions. Native people have a different way of looking at the outdoor world and the creatures that inhabit it. Traditional native people believe that all things in the Creator's universe have a spirit; trees, rocks, plants and the animals and birds. While this seems at odds with our European religions, it makes sense to me for some reason.

Arlene never really fears any of the animals that prowl the Camp Chicken forests. She views us as intruders into their space and that the animals really mean us no harm. They will choose to avoid contact with us whenever possible unless they want us to see them.

I'll never forget the time we were out for a ride while at Camp and we spotted a bear back in the field. He or she was headed away from us when I pulled the car over so that we could watch him. Suddenly, he stopped,turned and stood up to look right at us. He half-raised a paw as if in greeting and then slowly turned and ambled away. I looked at Arlene and said, "what was that all about?". She explained that he recognized her as being Bear Clan and was greeting her. I must admit that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand right up.

Native people believe that we should live in harmony with the natural world and that Mother Earth will provide for us everything that we need. But, we must respect her and treat her as a sacred being. I do my best to try and follow this teaching. I am encouraged by the new interest in green initiatives and the fight against global warming.

Native people understand that there has to be a balance and that we ignore that philosophy at our own peril. Unless we try and change our bad habits, Mother Earth will lose patience with us and correct the unbalanced condition herself perhaps with catastrophic consequences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we can learn a lot from the Native American way of thinking and their traditions. It is always interesting to hear about their way of interacting with nature.