Connections with Nature

Native Americans have a connection with nature

What amazed me most about Black Elk Speaks is the sense of duty that the Native American people have in regards to nature. It is admirable for several reasons. Consider our own society in which animals are treated as products under a market driven utilitarian society. Efficiency comes before justice in too many places. Here in Black Elk Speaks, the Native Americans are not one, but two steps ahead of the rest of us in terms of showing compassion for nature and life. First, the Grandfather’s drive home the beauty of the nature around them. The Native Americans’ respect for nature keeps them from unnecessary killing. There is a very real spiritual belief that “the morning star lives to give men wisdom”(Anthology 359) and that their exists a “holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds.” (Anthology 359) In other words, nature is truly a spiritual entity that can offer divine revelations for mankind.


The movie Avatar takes a similar approach. In the movie, the humans have forgotten the value in appreciating nature around them. The humans, in a cliche manner, seek out the creatively named unobtanium. As expected, the futuristic race of man has nothing in mind but economic gain. On the other hand, the native Na’vi live in harmony with the surrounding life of planet Pandora. The spiritual journey of the cold marine Sully, into the  wiser Na’vi form of himself symbolizes the value in what some would call, “returning to your roots.” While technology and progress are obviously beneficial, the movie tries to remind us that we as a race still have ethical responsibilities towards the planet that we live upon. Speciesism is a widely used example used to argue how man has fallen from his ability to empathize with other life. Back to Black Elk…

Wolf Pack

The second manner in which the Native American people are superior in their treatment of nature is that they go beyond respecting nature and help it flourish. As the Grandfather said in the story, ‘you shall walk upon the earth, and whatever sickens there you shall make well.’ (Anthology 364) Supporting wildlife out of compassion is an extremely rare occurrence in present day. As my totem animal, the wolf, suggests, we should think of life as a family or pack. Why not consider the unity between life and use it as a driving force for good?

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 4:32 am  Leave a Comment  

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