Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Native wisdom

Hi! Thanks for taking time from building your ark to visit. When this rain stops and the sun comes out and warms us and the soil, you'll be able to hear the plants growing. The little guy(?) in the picture is Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) or, according to some who know more than I about such matters, a pasque flower (cultivated, not wild). Last year on March 24 it looked like the picture above. This year, on May 21, it looks just about the same as it did last year on March 24. That's about two months variation. I've often thought, and said out loud more than a few times, if Minnesota we more like its averages than the extremes we "enjoy," then it would be a much more pleasant (but less interesting) place to live. The time of year doesn't seem to have as much impact on the vocal outbursts from our friendly, local barred owls. This morning on our walk in the dark and the mist, about every minute or so, Si-Si and I heard "Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-all?" I believe I enjoyed the calling more than Si-Si who, had you been there to see it, obviously enjoyed the morning's smells more than I could or do. To each his or her own. Speaking of which, recently I've been doing a lot of reading about Native Americans (North Country: The Making of Minnesota and The Wisdom of the Native Americans). You know,  the first people who lived in North America before it was "discovered" (see yesterday's posting about "discovering" the local pair of swans) and from whom Europeans "bought" the land. Ae major difference between the two cultures was/is their relative perspectives on the "ownership" of land. I was particularly moved by the statement by Black Hawk [Sauk] in The Wisdom:
My reason teaches me that land cannot be sold. The Great Spirit gave it to his children to live upon and cultivate as far as necessary for their subsistence, and so long as they occupy and cultivate it they have the right to the soil, but if they voluntarily leave it then any other people have a right to settle on it. Nothing can be sold except things that can be carried away.
As I think about the difficulties we current dwellers on the land have dealing with climate change, green house gas reductions, protecting the quantity and quality of our surface and ground water and the minute by minute loss of habitat and environmental services we impose upon ourselves and others, I wish we had learned more from our predecessors in My Minnesota. Do you think we still could? Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served daily.