Quotes from the Elders
“You see most of the mistakes human beings make, is that the system of information which really guides their life does not connect them to the cycle of nature. The limited answers found by people who perhaps did not think it through garble the way people live. So we're trying to find a way to make the community a productive one where people can live, be happy, and be peaceful as much as possible. ”
"12,000 years ago the whole world was interconnected. We had a single culture, we had the same history, the same socio-political organizations. There was no rich and no poor; no kings, no emperors, no presidents. We need not to look for who's guilty; not to attack anyone because the leaders are also looking for a solution. We have to work together shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart. We can do it in a positive, peaceful way.
Sweet Medicine Nation ~ Choctaw Elder
"There are two ways to the bridge of this world and the spirit world, and I feel that my role is to stand on the bridge. I'm going to be there with you in the Spirit world, but in the physical world I will come to you if you call me.
It (a Vision Quest) isn't over for a year afterwards because you have to see, "Can I walk on these new feet, on this new path that I've been given, or will I divert myself back to a place where I don't have to be out front that doesn't seem supported in this world, as in my case?"
Camila Martinez ~ Mazatec Curandera
"Holism implicates everybody - the whole rainbow, not just one color. It includes all under the rainbow. I think it's something people are starting to figure out, that in overlooking these other colors in the rainbow that have really deep roots, that have the real knowledge, they're missing the point completely!
Really getting into Traditional Native Medicine - knowing what it's like to sleep in the dirt; knowing what it's like to shiver in the cold, to be bitten by insects, to cry, to go hungry, to have thirst, to sweat, to labor - it's another way. You really get smashed. It's not for everybody."
In recognition and appreciation of the tremendous service of the elders in this book, "Remember the Wisdom that Progress Forgot," 50% of the proceeds from sales will be donated to their non-profit organizations. If you wish to contribute, please use the links on the page, "Quotes from Interviewees"
The Body That is the Earth
The Earth is a living being. The trees inhale our outbreath as we inhale its invaluable oxygen of its outbreath. They are the lungs of the environment. If we continue to remove the structures that function as the lungs, it will be the same as if our lungs are removed - life will not be sustainable. Much of heart disease, asthma, and other respiratory disorders if not cancer and auto-immune conditions are created by pollutants and xeno-hormones in the air.
Many cultures view trees as their brethren and are grateful to them for providing shelter and many of the fruits, nuts, and medicines from their seeds, leaves, and bark. There are countless healing oils like tea tree or manuka oils that have anti-microbial or anti-fungal properties; eucalyptus oil that can be soothing and healing for the lungs. Flowers from trees offer more than just beauty and mesmerizing fragrance, as the list of their health benefits is inexhaustible.
The wetlands are a type of lymphatic system of the environment. They function as filters for the larger bodies of water as they remove toxins while providing root systems that can capture and store water to recharge ground water, help stabilize the shores and help prevent flooding. They are also a home for countless species that not only offer diversity and food sources, but that also provide checks and balances so that certain insects and microbes don't proliferate. Destroying them to build housing developments or to create recreational areas limits their ability to perform these vital functions, and runs the risk of greater catastrophes due to flooding or toxic overload.
Creatures that live in the wetlands as well as around other bodies of water serve to maintain the balance not only for the environment they live in, but often for the other wildlife that live there. Turtles help to break down and distribute nutrients, many birds help to control insect populations, and various scavenger roles that amphibians play help to cleanse the floor of the sea or river.
The bald eagle is a national symbol for this country as well as being of spiritual significance for Native Americans. The turtle has spiritual meaning for the Chinese and the alligator is meaningful to certain African tribes.
Predator and prey balance also make a big difference in the environment being able to continue to prosper, demonstrated by the return of wolves, also symbolic for Native Americans, to Yellowstone National Park.
The intricate balance was achieved as follows: "We have discovered that an ecological effect called the “trophic cascade” has taken over Yellowstone, with the wolves initiating a more natural ecosystem balance than has been seen in over 65 years. Since wild wolves have returned to Yellowstone, the elk and deer are stronger,
the aspens and willows are healthier and the grasses taller.
For example, when wolves chase elk during the hunt, the elk are forced to run faster and farther. As the elk run, their hooves aerate the soil, allowing more grasses to grow. Since the elk cannot remain stationary for too long, aspens and willows in one area are not heavily grazed, and therefore can fully recover between migrations.
As with the rest of the country, coyote populations were nearly out of control in Yellowstone before the wolves returned. Now, the coyotes have been out-competed and essentially reduced by 80 percent in areas occupied by wolves. The coyotes that do remain are more skittish and wary. With fewer coyotes hunting small rodents, raptors like the eagle and osprey have more prey and are making a comeback.
The endangered grizzly bears successfully steal wolf kills more often than not, thus having more food to feed their cubs. In essence, we have learned that by starting recovery at the top with predators like wolves, the whole system benefits. A wild wolf population actually makes for a stronger, healthier and more balanced ecosystem. From plant, to insect, to people... we all stand to benefit from wolves."
It is no surprise that many plant substances are seen as sacred by several indigenous cultures. From tobacco, to cacao, to ayahuasca, we are just touching the surface of our understanding of what gifts nature can offer an entire community of people when they revere and appreciate it ceremoniously. Much is lost by modern society when a substance is related to out of its sacred context, whereby addictions can form and the enrichment is forsaken. Even within the scientific framework, the potential of countless herbs and plants are just recently being researched and verified as to their valuable medicinal properties, such as black seed oil, chanca piedra, tumeric, coconut, chyawanprash, ashwaghanda, triphala, tulsi, and more.