Europeans and immigrants believe that meat is a critical part of the human diet, but ancient Native Americans had a much more varied diet. Linda Fisher believes her American Indian ancestors would say it’s time to stop the suffering and the killing.
Amid my large colorful paintings and hundreds of nonhuman animal photographs, hangs a small black-and white photograph—carefully placed in a shrine-like niche. This picture of Chief Seattle is the focus of my studio.
Being part Ojibway and Cherokee, I attend powwows and other Native American functions and proudly wear my inherited Ojibway beaded jewelry.
But as I become lost in the hypnotic and joyful sounds of drumming, I cannot ignore the uneasy feeling that consumes me as I glance around: Hundreds of leather goods, feathers, and trinkets made of nonhuman animals’ bodies—bear claws, cougar teeth, turtle shells, and whalebones—surround me, all in the name of the proud Indian and commercial trade.
I feel torn and saddened by what I see.
In modern Western culture, most of us, including the American Indian, no longer need to hunt to survive. However, we almost always associate the Indian—even today’s Indian—with wearing and using nonhuman animals’ hides, furs, and feathers.
I assure you, even though I avoid hides and furs and choose a vegan diet, my Indianness is critical to who I am.
The same is true of my mother, who is both an elder of our Ojibway tribe and a vegetarian. It is not our dark hair, dark eyes, or Indian facial features that speak for who we are, but something much deeper, something not visually apparent: our commitment to the teachings of our ancient Ojibway ancestors.
To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support — a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.
As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy, and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times.
How will those who survive manage it? What can we teach our friends, our children, our communities? Although we may not be capable of changing history, how can we equip ourselves to survive it?
I contemplate these questions in the full consciousness of my own mortality. Being offered an actual number of likely months to live, even though the estimate is uncertain, mightily focuses the mind. On personal things, of course, on loved ones and even loved things, but also on the Big Picture.
But let us begin with last things first, for a change. The analysis will come later, for those who wish it.
by Ken Damro
In general, the more we know and understand something the less we fear it, right?. Well, see for yourself.
Since fishing is really underwater hunting, I will refer to both hunting and fishing as hunting in this writing.
I was born into a hunting family, surrounded by hunting friends. As with most youth, I wanted to fit in, wanted to be respected, and in so doing, I too hunted and fished – even trapped for a short time. I loved to be out in the wilds – in the fresh air – and I loved to see animals. Being out hunting taught me much about the outdoors and for that I am forever grateful.
Still, by the time I was in my early 30’s I began to question the ethics of my actions. In fact I remember sneaking out to my car to go hunting – changing into my hunting clothes when I got to the trail-head or boat landing. I got to the point where I simply didn’t want to be associated with hunting or other hunters – didn’t want to have to explain myself. I knew my reasons were full of holes, flimsy as a fly swatter. Still, I hunted, it was a really hard habit to break. As with most any addict, I occasionally stopped to analyze why – why do I continue to do this? I love animals, why do I harass and kill them?