my brothers, the spring has come; the earth has received the embraces
of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every
seed has awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this
mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield
to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves,
to inhabit this land." Tatanka Yotanka (Chief Sitting
Bull), Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux
grew up watching Westerns, and often found myself rooting for the
Indians. Their supposed way of life whether living in the
pueblos of the Southwest, teepees of the Great Plains, or wigwams
and long houses of the Eastern forest is fascinating to me.
is difficult to piece together a true picture of American Indians
since their history has been interpreted even romanticized
by the "white man." One aspect of American Indian
culture which is inescapable, however, is their respect for the
far as I know, there is really only one place in the United States
where a tribe managed to continuously keep control of, and actively
manage, their ancestral lands from pre-settlement times all the
way through to the present day.
place is the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeast Wisconsin.
Menominee Indian Reservation provides a case study in what is possible
when American Indian philosophy toward managing natural resources
is practiced. In fact, the reservation's implementation of sustainable
forestry was studied by leading German foresters visiting America.
They credited the reservation to be the only successful implementation
of "Dauerwald" (Perpetual Forest) management in America.
have been to the Menominee Reservation and toured their forest management
impressive forest looks like "old growth," and gives the
impression that the forest has never been harvested. However, responsible
forest management here has been supporting the tribe for more than
to their oral history, the early chiefs directed the tribe in the
following manner: "Start with the rising sun, and work toward
the setting sun, but take only the mature trees, the sick trees,
and the trees that have fallen. When you reach the end of the reservation,
turn and cut from the setting sun to the rising sun and the trees
will last forever."
sounds like pretty good advice to me. But then, I may be a little
partial, since I'm part Cherokee myself. My wife has a little more
"Indian" in her ancestry, with some Cherokee on one side
and Chickasaw on the other. We Americans are a diverse mix
this diversity has given us many wells of knowledge and experience
to draw from, including America's first peoples.
Patterson is city forester for the city of Clarksville. He can be
reached at 645-7464 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.