“Philosophers call this state of isolation and disconnection “species loneliness”—a deep, unnamed sadness stemming from estrangement from the rest of Creation, from the loss of relationship. As our human dominance of the world has grown, we have become more isolated, more lonely when we can no longer call out to our neighbors. It’s no wonder that naming was the first job the Creator gave Nanabozho.” — Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
“If a person cannot solve a conflict with a friend, how can they possibly contribute to larger efforts for peace? If we refuse to speak to a friend because we project our anxieties onto an email they wrote, how are we going to welcome refugees, immigrants, and the homeless into our communities? The values required for social repair are the same values required for personal repair. And so this discussion must begin in the most micro experience. Confusing being mortal with being threatened can occur in any realm. The fact that something could go wrong does not mean that we are in danger. It means that we are alive. Mortality is the sign of life.”
California Indians practiced resource management at four levels of biological organization: the organism, the population, the plant community, and the landscape, They used resource management techniques at each of these levels, or scales, to promote the persistence of individual plants, plant populations, animal populations, plant associations, and habitat relationships in many different vegetation types in California. The techniques in the Indians’ repertoire included burning, irrigating, coppicing, pruning, sowing, tilling, transplanting, and weeding. All of these techniques, especially burning, represented a disturbance; by applying them in various ecosystems, Indians became agents of controlled, culturally mediated disturbance, using it to maintain plant populations of special importance and habitat diversity.
Sowing a seed or putting a plant in the soil is just the beginning of a long relationship between the person and the plant.
California Indians embraced a different concept of ownership, one based on usufruct rights. Under this conception, if an area is used and tended, it becomes the domain of the gatherer. For example, throughout California, individuals or families repeatedly gathered from and cared for specific oak trees and groves, giving them usufruct rights to those resources. Under the usufruct system, each family had a combination of exclusive rights to certain resources, and communal rights to other resources
When the first Europeans visited California... they did not find in many places pristine, virtually uninhabited wilderness but rather a carefully tended “garden” that was the result of thousands of years of selective harvesting, tilling, burning, pruning, sowing, weeding, and transplanting.
Wilderness preservation, a concept perhaps unique to Western cultures, is necessary given our burgeoning population, economic policies that do not recognize the finiteness of resources, and shrinking natural areas. But setting aside wilderness is only a reaction of the plundering of natural resources, and both spring from a mind-set of alienation from nature. Moreover, the wilderness concept tends to compartmentalize nature and culture, giving humans the illusion that activities done outside of protected areas will not affect what is within...