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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Animal Spirits

Visual representation of nature's laws

"As well as being very physical, their relations are also dialogic and negotiated through conversation. Dialogue between hunters, animals, and other non-human persons is a master trope of northern hunter-fisher oral tradition. Relations between these persons are reciprocal and negotiates rather than authoritarian and monologic the essential relationship that underlies all others "is between humans (male or female) and animals." Such relationships provide a "master code" for ritual, economic and oral communications" (Ridington 107).

The Buffalo

Series Coordinator - Dr. Earle Waugh
1980 Access


"Whether the subject is [animal] adoption or marriage, the stories are poignantly specific on the relationships between humans and their animal spouses, siblings, parents, and in-laws, and, as may be seen, the ties that bind are formed less by thoughts than by feelings. Nevertheless, a broader, more philosophical position can be drawn from the myths and has been. both by outside observers and by native people themselves. The essential idea is that family ties promote respect" (Bierhorst, The Way 85-86)

" animals are regarded as persons with whom one must maintain active, positive communication. For while effective, their technology [Chipewyan] was simple, making harmony and reciprocity with a living world not domination of an inanimate one the predominant ontological disposition. In the case of the Chipewyan of Great Slave Lake, most animals are regarded as being superior to humans rather than the reverse. After all, as these Dene implicitly ask, who is dependent upon whom? That the animals are superior to humans is evidenced by their lack of need to utilize technology and the fact that they seem ever to excel at being what they are. Though never perfect, the animals seem to be much better at maintaining their moral integrity than are humans" (Smith, World as Event 74).

The Animals are Great Teachers
Interviewer - Earle Waugh, PhD.


"Animals are correspondingly regarded as persons in their own right and are treated accordingly; that is to say, the relationship between the Cree and Ojibwa and the animal-persons they pursue is governed by the same ethical considerations that govern human relationships. Their encounters with animals are framed as encounters with persons, and the interpretations (of those encounters) use as analogues, the commonplace social mechanisms, such as coercion, sexuality and gif exchange to express how those encounters can be transformed into mutually beneficial social relationships" (Driben, Auger, Doob et al. 101).

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