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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Environmental Conservation

Treaties

Relation to the Land

Sacred Sites

Environmental Conservation

Visual representation of nature's laws


"Conservation of resources may have been, but probably was not, a consciously posited goal, neither a personal ideal nor a tribal policy. Deliberate conservation would indeed, ironically appear to be inconsistent with the spiritual and personal attributes which the Indians regarded as belonging to nature and natural things, since these are represented by most conservationists as in the predominant Pinchot tradition as only commodities, subject to scarcity, and therefore in need of prudent "development" and "management." The American Indian posture towards nature was, I suggest, neither ecological nor conservative in the modern scientific sense so much as it was moral or ethical. Animals, plants and minerals were treated as persons, and conceive to be coequal members of a natural social order … The American Indians, on the whole, viewed the natural world as enspirited. Natural beings therefore felt, perceived, deliberated, and responded voluntarily as persons. Persons as members of a social order (i.e. part of the operational concept of a person is the capacity for social interaction). Social interaction is limited by (culturally variable) behavioral restraints, rules of conduct, which we call, in sum, good manners, morals and ethics. The American Indian, therefore, in Aldo Leopold’s turn of phrase lived in accordance with a "land ethic."" (Callicott 312).

 

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