Sunday, September 22, 2013

Destruction by Omission

There are 566 Federally recognized Tribes in the United States. I say "Federally recognized" because it is a legal definition and only Tribes given this designation are entitled to recognition and treatment as such by the US Government. What about those Tribes without federal recognition? There are nearly 100 that have received official recognition from 20 states, some have applied for federal recognition. And there are many more who have no recognition at all. All of these Tribes have their own governments, their own communities and cultural practices. Most struggle with issues of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and health concerns such as diabetes and heart disease.

Michigan has twelve Federally recognized Tribes and three State recognized Tribes. Do you know their names? Do you know where they are located? When was the last time you read anything in the mainstream newspaper or heard a story on the radio or television about any of the Tribes in Michigan? Or anywhere? Maybe you once heard something about a new casino, or the terrible murder of a young boy on the Saginaw Chippewa lands. My bet is your Tribal landscape is barren.

Why is that? Why does mainstream America omit information on the lives and stories of over 600 Indian Nations that are our neighbors, our Sisters and Brothers? I would argue it is the concept of destruction by omission at its finest.

But this blog is not about Tribes or our collective ignorance of them.

We are destroying the Earth. Slowly but surely. We continue to pour chemicals and toxins into the soils and waters. We bomb. We demolish. We frack. We drill. Our numbers grow and grow with no regard for the other Beings we displace with our constant sprawl. The banner that we all fight under reads "Economic Growth!". Build more factories, create more jobs, make more money. But at what cost? Why do so few ask this question?

We live on a living breathing planet called Earth. She exists due to thousands of complex cycles and relationships between the Land, Water, Air, Fire, and all Living Beings that call Earth home. She is an entity all to Herself. Her function is perfection.

How is it that we call ourselves the most intelligent animals (yes, we are animals) and yet we kill for no reason, damage our life sustaining land and water, and act as though we are the only lifeforms that matter?

Destruction by omission.

How many trees can you name? How many birds? How many flowers? How many fish? How many animals? Can you describe the carbon cycle? Can you describe the effects of the moon on the planet? Can you describe the water cycle? Can you read the weather based on the behavior of animals or the position of the leaves in the wind?

Why not?

In all the speeches I have heard on our education system and training children for the future, I have not once heard the topic of Ecology listed as a core requirement. Science and technology has top bill right now, but they are focused on economic growth. Why do we omit Ecology or Limnology or Soil Science or Natural History from the list of desirable courses? How can we expect anyone to care about our Earth when few know anything about Her or how things function? How can we appreciate the impacts of our actions if we don't know a thing about the ecology of life and how all things are related?

We used to know these things because we lived with Nature, we were a responsible member of the community. We respected the cycles of Nature, the Relationships between all living Beings. We took care of the Land and Waters because we respected them. Today, our lives are so isolated from Nature that we have to be taught about these things, and most people could care less about learning it. They have forgotten their part in the great Web of Live. What do we respect today? Good question.

As fast as our population is growing, someday in the not to distant future we will have gobbled up most of the land, pushed out most of the animals so that Nature will only be found in "nature preserves" and zoos. What kind of place will that be, where humans have literally taken over the world? Already it is hard to find any wild place to go to. Some leading biologists are saying there are no wild lands left in the world. That breaks my heart. Because there WERE wild lands when I was young. To think that the children of today will never know what it feels like to surrounded by a healthy wild forest with all its mysteries and magic is unimaginable to me. That most will never feast their eyes on the billions of stars in the night sky or see the Milky Way because we have polluted the night sky with artificial light is a great tragedy. I have seen such a sky but once. In Alaska, 1985. It was breathtaking and I feel blessed to have witnessed the beauty. And I know that I will have to travel a long distance to ever see a sky like that again.

So my vote is to make the study of Ecology and our Earth required for all children everywhere. If we don't, then we will surely destroy this beautiful world we live in. We can stop this but time is running out. Our Spirits are connected to all Living Beings. The more we disconnect from them, the more we disconnect from ourselves.

Oh, and if you want to learn about Tribal life in Michigan, you can look at a few newsletters and newspapers by clicking below. If you want to read some news about Tribes outside of Michigan, then tap here.

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Observer
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Newsletter
Bay Mills News
Grand Traverse Band News
Little River Band Little River Currents
Hannahville Indian Community Tribal Newsletter

No omission here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Walk On Blue

Today I think of Blue and my friend Michael. I hope he doesn't mind me posting this picture. You need to see beautiful Blue not just read about him. There are no words to express the deep feelings of sorrow that come with the loss of a companion. My heart breaks for my friend. Wishing you many adventures Blue. I know your Spirit will be in that canoe with Michael, paddling the Lake Superior shores. Rest in peace.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


In 2005 I lost my dog Idgie to breast cancer. I swore I would never "put a dog to sleep", that it was really just putting MY pain to sleep, because I couldn't bear to watch the suffering. But in the end that is exactly what I did.

I felt like a murderer.

But after I got over the guilt I knew in my heart it was the right decision. She was suffering. I was suffering. Hers was physical, mine was emotional. She wouldn't get better. I would. Well, as good as one can get when they go through these heart breaking decisions. I don't want to play God. Ever.

One of my dearest friends is now going through this anguish. And it breaks my heart to watch his suffering as he says his goodbyes to his companion, Blue.

I first met Mike back in the early 1990s when I took a rock climbing class at the Ledges. We didn't know each other well then, but he made an impression on me, as he does with everyone he meets. Mike is outrageously funny, deeply caring, loves Michigan as much as I do, is an adventurer of life and wilderness. It was only fitting that a Being as special as Blue would come into his life.

Blue is one of those breeds of dogs that chases sheep around (he doesn't really chase sheep around but would if he had any sheep to herd). And he is the most highly trained dogs I have ever seen. Wherever they go Mike and Blue give a show, with Blue fetching his frisbee and doing all things that go with fetching frisbees, all by Mike's hand signals. I have been with them in parks and a long trip to rice camp in the UP and it is the same everywhere. People stop to watch in amazement. Young and old, rich and poor. Blue is simply amazing. He is an equalizer, an angel of joy.

If I were a dog I would want to be Blue.

Blue has traveled by canoe to places I have only dreamed of. With his personal flotation device strapped securely around his black and white furry body, Blue rides contently in one of Mike's beautiful cedar canvas canoes while Mike paddles him through Michigan's wild lands. He has Mike wrapped around his little toe, such as it is.

It was just a bit over a week ago that Mike got the news. Blue has some serious cancer. And of course he is devastated, as are all who know and love Blue. Yes it is true, death is a part of life. But that doesn't make it any easier.

There is a very special magic that the Creator has given to Dogs. For those who can open their hearts to it, there is no deeper love or healing than that which is freely given by our Dog companions. And because it touches us in places we rarely feel, it is that much harder when they leave us. I am finding there is still some pain in my heart as Mike and Blue's journey is reminding me of Idgie and my last days together. It hurts like hell. I have tears right now as I write this. Such is the love for a Dog.

I am keeping Mike and Blue in my prayers as they walk these final days together. I hope you will to.