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We are the Land: Native American Views of Nature

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Part of the Science Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Science book series (SACH,volume 4)

Abstract

This is how one Native American presents her interpretation of the indigenous understanding of nature. As we will see in this article, many Native Americans present similar understandings. Their reciprocal relationships with nature permeated every aspect of life from spirituality to making a living and led to a different way of seeing the world, what they might call a more “environmental” way of seeing the world. But is this a true picture? Increasingly there has been debate over the nature of the Native American’s relationship to the land, both past and present. This article will examine this debate and the way in which Native Americans view nature.

Keywords

  • Natural World
  • Environmental Ethic
  • Spiritual Practice
  • Native Culture
  • Gray Whale

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

We are the land ... that is the fundamental idea embedded in Native American life the Earth is the mind of the people as we are the mind of the earth. The land is not really the place (separate from ourselves) where we act out the drama of our isolate destinies. It is not a means of survival, a setting for our affairs ... It is rather a part of our being, dynamic, significant, real. It is our self ...

It is not a matter of being ‘close to nature’ ... The Earth is, in a very real sense, the same as our self (or selves) ... That knowledge, though perfect, does not have associated with it the exalted romance of the sentimental ‘nature lovers’, nor does it have, at base, any self-conscious ‘appreciation’ of the land ... It is a matter of fact, one known equably from infancy, remembered and honoured at levels of awareness that go beyond consciousness, and that extend long roots into primary levels of mind, language, perception and all the basic aspects of being ...

Paula Gunn Allen, Laguna Pueblo (1979: 191–192)

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Booth, A.L. (2003). We are the Land: Native American Views of Nature. In: Selin, H. (eds) Nature Across Cultures. Science Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Science, vol 4. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-0149-5_17

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-0149-5_17

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-90-481-6271-0

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