You are on page 1of 81


Wilderness Guide

Teaching Drum Outdoor School

7124 Military Road
Three Lakes, WI 54562-9333


1 Check out our website at to
get better acquainted with the Teaching Drum. Then read
Tamaracks book, Journey to the Ancestral Self. We
sell the book for $15 + $3.50 shipping. We also have the
book available in audio cassette for $32 + $3.50 shipping.
Tamaracks other writings are available as well, see web
2 Call the office in advance to arrange a visit for a week
or so, so that you may gain a firsthand feel for the Course.
We request tuition of $200 for the week to cover your
meals and miscellaneous costs.
3 If during your visit you and Tamarack decide the
Wilderness Guide Course is right for you, youll be
invited to fill out an application.


$1,000 Deposit due with Application (includes $100 processing fee)
$500 deposit reimbursement with cancellation after acceptance and before beginning of program

Tuition: $6,200 ($200 discount if paid by cash, check or money order )

Half Balance due April 1, remainder due April 15

Reimbursement Schedule
If drop out within


Month 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . 40%
Month 2 . . . . . . . . . . . 20%
Month 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%
Month 4 end . . . . . . . . 0%

Reminder: In order to be fully present and not have financial distractions during the
Program, it is important that you meet tuition deadlines. If you have
difficulties in this regard, please call us immediately.


You have learned some Native skills; have you ever dreamed
of living them? It is a privilege hardly possible
in this day. And yet it is necessary in order to really
learn the skills. You have to live like a Native in order to
know what a Native knows. There are no shortcuts.
There is a place where you can go into the Wilderness to
learn by doing, just as would a Native Person. You don't
learn skills there, you live them. It is not a class, it is not a
workshop. It is one-on-one, you and The Earth,
you and your Guide.
Nor is it a survival skills or nature awareness program.
It is an actual Wilderness Native living experience.
The approach is deeply intelligent, deeply feeling, deeply
spiritual, deeply healing. And deeply hands-on.
Will your greatest struggle be with cold,
with hunger, with Mosquitoes?
No, it will be with demons.
Your own inner demons.
You will gain skills that you may not know exist - how to
make a tinderless fire, how to track animals without having
to study the track, how to drink safely from a Lake or
Stream the same way wild animals do. You will learn how to
live in a Clan, the way your Ancestors once did.
You will find out how strong and wise you really are.
Do you just sign up and pay your tuition? It takes more than
money. You need to come and spend a week as a guest in
the Program. It's the only way to gain a real feel for it, and
for us to get to know each other. Then, if we decide together
that this experience could be right for you,
you will be invited to submit an application.

Imagine you are sitting with your comrades in a circle
around a warming fire at the edge of a wilderness meadow.
A ring of tall Fir trees surrounds, their silhouettes standing
out against the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky.
You have just finished a meal of venison, nettles, milkweed,
wild leeks, and two big freshly caught Bass are roasting in
the coals for an early morning breakfast. Youre grateful
that your just finished buckskins are keeping the chill off the
back as your Circle reminisces about the teaching and
adventures of the day the Wolf tracks that were spotted
and followed going down the Deer trail to the Elder Pine
grove, the new patch of ripening blueberries that was come
across while portaging over to the next lake for Clams, and
you pass around and admire the beautiful Willow gathering
basket that was just finished before the meal. Someone
mentions the rising Moon and comments that she is almost
full time to begin preparations for the Sweat Lodge
ceremony youve all been anxiously awaiting.
All the time you were sharing you were practicing the Native
shadowing exercises that are training you senses to become
ever keener and you eyes and ears
to be ever more observant.
The yawns start spreading from person to person as you
finish talking about plans for tomorrow an early morning
swim and check of the fish traps, then getting together with
the camp across the lake to split out a wind-fallen Ash for
bow stays, then in the afternoon a couple of us are going to
track the two Bears we saw grazing yesterday in the high
Meadow across the lake, and the rest of us are going to
follow individual pursuits while someone else plans on
burning out a new bowl and another is going to go and
sit quietly in a neighboring tree to see what the Osprey
nestlings have to teach her. But now it is time to
seek sleep in our Birchbark wigwams and listen to
the voice of our Dreams.

This could be you.


Have you ever wished that you could live by your wits in the wilderness for a
whole year? Would you like to learn skills within the actual context of Native
Lifeway rather than in a class-workshop format? Would you like to go beyond
the popular skills (hide tanning, fire making, etc) and learn what it takes to
actually live the life of a Native? Would you like to learn to track intuitively
like an Aborigine, rather than by the military style that is popular today?
Have you yearned to experience the thresholds to wilderness attunement and
have the opportunity to break through them ? Are you willing to live and trust
in the Native commandments that you must give in order to receive, and
that the Earth Mother provides for all the needs of Her children, including
you? Would you like to have an instructor with the wisdom of experience who
can regularly sit down and talk one-on-one with? How about a program that
realistically and sensitively immerses you in Native clan and spiritual life? And
one so well rounded that it speaks to women as well as men?
The Wilderness Guide program, as you may have already gathered, is one-ofa-kind. Tamarack takes only 10 students per year at his wilderness camp,
where you live and learn in an actual primitive living situation just as would a
Native person. Tamarack teaches skills that take you beyond survival, he
guides you to the level of comfort and plenty. Heres a sam pling of what you
could learn:

Infallible direction finding without map, compass, or GPS.

How to recognize and prepare hundreds of wild edibles
Weather forecasting
How to make and wear buckskin clothing
Ways to tap into your Ancestral memories
To eat a Native diet
Bark, thatch, and earth lodge building
How to dry and store wild foods for winter
The ritual ways and awarenesses of a Native
How to awaken you senses, mental and intuitive abilities
A Native language and the mysteries it holds
How to become a Native canoeist
Native first aid and hygiene
Primitive trapping and fishing techniques
How to discover culinary insect delights
How to face your inner self
How to become a Truthspeaker, the power of sacred speech, and the
blessings of the Talking Circle
To experience a culture based on the concepts of honor and respect
and so much more

Instructor: Tamarack Song, noted author and Native Lifeway guide, who has
learned from Wolves and traveled the continent years ago to apprentice to
rem aining Natives still living the Old Ways.
Course Duration: 1 full year, beginning with the Melting of the Snows
(approx. May 1 st)

The Three Thresholds to Wilderness Attunement

(Unedited tape transcript)
Why is it that some of us feel fairly comfortable in the Woods for a few days, then just
have to leave, while others of us can get by for a week or so, then also feel compelled to go
back? And still others of us can stick it out for several weeks, until we feel we just cant take
anymore, and then have to pack out also. The reason is that there are three thresholds that we
meet and need to transcend, one before the other, before we reach a place of comfort and
acceptance before we can feel at home in the Wilderness. I call these thresholds the
Psychological, the Tolerating, and the Gifting.
The Psychological Threshold is arrived at in about three days. The doubts and the fears
and the regrets and the relationship turmoil and the other unfinished business that we bring
with us into the Wilderness all of a sudden have no easy distraction. There is nothing else but
us and our thoughts and feelings. They can completely possess us its all we think about,
theres no diversion, no way to get away from them or drown them out. Where is the serenity
we came to find? By around the third day we have either found some peace with our demons
or we have given in to them and gone home to either deal with them or dance around them.
The Tolerating Threshold is reached at around a week. Most of us can put up with a
general level of physical discomfort for about that period of time. You know, the nights-arecold and-I-dont-have-a heavy-enough-sleeping-bag, its-been-raining-continuously-and-I-haventbeen-able-to-get-out-much, I-ran-out-of-peanut-butter, I-havent-found-any-berries, the-fisharent-biting-and-Im-eating-the-same-food-every-day stuff. Sure we could go on if it were a lifeand-death matter, but we are bored and miserable and no longer have a point to prove. So we
quickly pack our gear and make a bee-line for the comforts of home.
If we have evolved adequate shelter, are at peace with the weather, and have found
sustaining food, we will then coast through the Second Threshold and be pacing our way to the
third the Gifting Threshold. I also call it the Feast and Famine Threshold, because when we
are in the Outback for a longer period we experience the up-and-down cycles of the natural
way of things hot and cold, wet and dry, bounty and scarcity. We who understand these
cycles know that if it is raining for several days it will eventually stop and Sun will again shine.
We know that if our sleeping bag is wet we will eventually be able to dry it out. If the Fish
arent biting today they eventually will, or perhaps well find some Clams or a Marsh full of
Cattail roots over the next hill.
I could also have called this the Lucky Threshold, because we are often getting by on
little more than that. Most of us can tolerate this for but a few weeks at most. A moon (month)
is usually the limit; by then we have lost a good deal of weight, we are dirty and probably have
an infected wound or two, and we have come to dread facing another day. Feast and famine
will sustain us no longer. Luck has its limit and weve reached it.
However, if we have found our Balance with the cycles of the Wilds, we will ride
through this threshold as though it didnt exist and enter what I call the Gifting Way. It will no
longer be Man against Nature a struggle to find food and stay warm and dry or hope/trust
that we will stumble upon something to eat. It will be as though we are being given what we

need, as though our mother is watching over and providing for us. For that is exactly what is
We have grown into the Awareness that brings trust and the Attunement that brings
the gifts of trust. We are now comfortable and warm and dry and well-fed, for that is the
Gifting to those who know Balance. Now we can dwell in the Wilderness indefinitely. We have
our feet firmly on the the Path of our Ancestors and we are walking side by side with our
Native kin of all the Relations the Human, the Finned, the Furred, the Feathered, the
Rooted. We are now just as comfortable as we are in our living room, just as well-fed as at a
restaurant. If we choose to leave the Bush we can return at any time, knowing we have a place
OK, many of you are now saying, how do I learn to grow through these thresholds
so that I will be accepted by The Mother-Wilderness? That is the subject matter of many of
the articles in this magazine. Keep reading and studying and practicing. Keep paying attention to
your growth as an individual. Go out in the Wilderness for progressively longer periods of time
without pushing yourself to the point where you have to face a threshold. As with all skills, it
takes practice, and as with all awarenesses, it takes exposure.
These thresholds actually apply to all of life, whether it be a job, a lifestyle, or a
relationship. So it is not coincidental that those who have found the way to Balance in their
personal lives are also likely to find Balance in the Wilds.
Work Ethic (Threshold Addition)
(unedited tape transcript)
We come from a culture in which we are trained to be single-minded, to be single of
focus, Put your nose to the grindstone, Keep your mind on the task, Be goal oriented,
Finish one job before you start another, and so on. This works in Civilized environs because
in isolating ourselves from the natural realm we have eliminated all variables and can thus focus
on one particular task. It cannot work in the natural realm because life is an interplay.
For example, if I would like to make a bow, I would first need to gather my materials,
some of which have their season, and some of which would be available to me as the result of
other endeavors. Sinew would be gifted me from the hunt, perhaps by a Deer or a Caribou.
Glue would come from the hide scraps. The bow stave might come from a lightening shattered
Tree that I come across on my winter trap line, and so on. As you can see, it might take some
amount of time before I gather all the materials needed to make a bow. I might, in fact, start
the bow with materials I have at hand, then let the project sit until the next materials come
along that I need and pick it up again.
If I were focused on one project, this bow, Im sure you can see how attempting to
complete the bow could get pretty frustrating as I might have long periods of wait between
procuring the materials that I need. So, I might have a number of projects going at once, at any
particular time working on the specific project for which the season is right and I have the
necessary materials. In this way, I am continually making progress and living in balance with the
gifts and energies of the seasons.
My gathering and hunting trips are also as multi-dimensional. For example, if Im going

out to pick Blueberries, on the way I might notice some Deer tracks that tell me there is an old
doe who is lame and therefore might be one to hunt. Perhaps Ill see some new Hazelnut
shoots that Id like to come back and gather later for arrow shafts. At the base of the ridge
where Blueberries are growing, Ill see that a Spruce Tree was blown down by last weeks
storm. Ill make note of that so on the way back from picking berries, I will pull up some of the
roots to use for lashings on the Birchbark canoe I plan on making the following spring. As Im
pulling up the Spruce root, Ill see that theres a healthy patch of Golden Thread which I will tell
my Mother about so that she may come by to gather some of the root for medicine.
As you can see from this example, what may initially appear to be a single-focus
gathering foray is actually quite multi-dimensional. This fits hand in hand with the use of the
materials that are gained in the gathering. Herein lies the dilemma for the person newly
returning to Native Ways. He wants to be productive, he needs to accomplish certain tasks,
but he is frustrated because he cannot focus on one task at a time and bring it to completion as
is his accustomed way. He is facing a threshold.

Threshold Addition
In our civilized lives we are accustomed to gaining emotional gratification in
concentrated doses that are not necessarily part of the flow of our lives. This may take the
form of movies, books, sporting events, workshops, dates, ceremonies, parties. Whatever the
event, the scenario is the same. The preparation, which involves detachment from ones regular
life. The anticipation, which creates expectations. The peak event, which usually includes
intense emotional involvement and release. The let-down, many find themselves in a state of
depression, low self-esteem, self-questioning. Boredom, we resign ourselves to what we
consider our normal humdrum lives and re-integrate ourselves into it, our normal humdrum
life. Preparation, we make plans for the next emotional high, which future-projects us out of
our boredom.
We become locked in an endless cycle of emotional high and depression. The high
becomes an addiction.
Heres an example. A man who is a month-long into the year-long wilderness living
experience that I conduct, felt this intense need to leave for a weekend to participate in a bowmaking workshop. He came back, telling us all about the intense emotional high he experienced
there. He said that it was such an intense, beautiful experience that people in the workshop
were drawn to tears. Then, he woke up the morning after he got back and he crashed.
He felt depressed, he started questioning if he should be involved in this year-long
experience, and then he looked for another emotional high to try to recapture the one he had
over the weekend. He hadnt been able to start a fire by friction yet, so he pulled out his bowmaking kit, achieved a fire, and experienced an intense emotional high.
That evening, when we talked about the experience, I guided him to an awareness of
the cycle he was trapped in. He asked how to break the cycle, and I replied that he was already
doing it. By connecting with the means and ends of his existence, he would find emotional

nourishment in all aspects of his life, as opposed to settling into a stale, everyday existence and
living for periodic emotional highs.
He came to realize that the bowmaking class experience could not sustain him. It was an
isolated experience, it was not a part of his life. Had he gotten to know the trees, their spirits
and qualities, and then had respectfully gathered the wood for his bow, used the tools he had
grown to know and developed relationships with, and then made his bow in the context of the
lifeway in which he would use it, and taking the time and the energy to come to know the ways
of the animals he would be hunting, and the sacred way of the hunt, he realized that his making
of the bow might not have occurred on that particular weekend and when it did happen, it
would be part of a greater, sustaining, emotional experience that was an integral and long-term
part of his life.
He realized that to respond to his impulses for instant emotional gratification was
reinforcing the addictive pattern, and that he had to, first of all, accept his emotional patterns,
secondly, to not suppress the feelings but to allow them to come up and have their play
because otherwise they would boil up in other ways, and then to give himself the time, dedicate
the energy to cultivating a rich and sustaining emotional climate around himself that was based
upon real life, the life he was living, and to change that life if it was not emotionally fulfilling
rather than to try to supplement it with emotional fixes. He knew that this could take some
time, as old habits die hard. He had already learned that giving is receiving, that he would have
to have the wherewithal to invest if he was to expect change. By this point, he had also come
to know that it actually takes less effort to heal then to maintain dysfunctional ways.
This transformation is actually easier than it might sound, because what we are doing is
transforming into our natural selves. As a species, we evolved in a climate of sustained
emotional nourishment. This is how we are biologically programmed to function best. So, once
we start our evolution, which is actually an evolution into our real natural selves, it gets easier
and easier with each step.
A Native doesnt work, he moves according to inspiration and guidance.
When we reach the _____ Threshold we encounter a change in work habits/attitudes.
In our regular lives we worked by the clock, worked for an abstract reward (money), worked
because of an ethic, worked for a nebulous future. In other words we worked because we
didnt have to. Now, as those reasons for working evaporate, we find it hard to motivate
ourselves. We worked for so long when there was a sketchy connection between our work
and our real life that now, with those secondary reasons for work evaporated, we not only see
no reason to work, but develop a distaste for it.
Yet there is a reason to workone we are not yet attuned to. Instead of the clock there
is the turning seasons and the spawnings and ripenings. Instead of money there is warmth and
food, instead of an ethic there is ones place in the Circle of life, instead of a nebulous future
there is the very real present, the now. But these things mean little to one who is not
accustomed to them.
So we find ourselves adrift between the fading past and the fuzzy future. We feel

unmotivated, lethargic, even angry with ourselves.

Then one cold morning we gather some firewood and bask in its warmth and something
clicksI gathered firewood, therefore I am warm! I am connected to the means and ends of my
existence! Its that simpleGiving is receiving. We have crossed the threshold. Work is no
longer work, but direct involvement in our lives. No free lunches, no labor for no visible lunch
or to fill someone elses lunchbucket. Just a sweet berry if you pick one, hunger if you dont.
Anxiety lifts, anger dissipates, the concept of work transforms into a lust to be involved in a life
that makes sense!
Get more specific with thresholds? I can only speak in generalities because the
threshold experiences are different for everyone.
After a while (the time varies widely from individual to individual) we start doubting
ourself. We no longer trust our decisions, we have trouble believing things are as we perceive
them. We grow disillusioned with ourself, some of us will get frustrated and angry with ourself.
We are accustomed to a black and white world, where cause and effect are the modus
operandi. We see things, process garnered information, make decisions based upon the
information, and then act. Usually our actions produce desired results. If not, we usually
understand why.
Not so in the natural realm. What we perceive is usually much more complex than what
we are accustomed to in our civilized life. And sometimes what affects us were not able to
perceive. There is no one person or event or object or agenda item to relate exclusively with.
To trust in any one of them is erroneous, because it could be just a piece of a greater puzzle.
Or it may be just an illusion created by our ego in its struggle to fit unfamiliar information into
an old paradigm.
Even more confusing it is a doorway to a greater perception. When we are not aware
that it is a doorway, we tried to quantify it, make something of it. We end up hanging on to the
doorway rather than stepping over the threshold.
The scenario usually goes something like this:
We feel first reveal disoriented, sometimes depressed. We wonder what is wrong with us,
we may externalize and start doubting someone else.
Nothing changes, so soon we become self-critical and questioning of our beliefs and the
decisions weve made.
Our ego looks elsewhere for the problem, blaming or accusing the environment or other
This brings us to a threshold: By not being able to trust our feelings and perceptions, we
disconnect ourself from our Heart-of-Hearts. In doing so we have worked ourselves into a
corner of isolation we have created a personal crisis. We need to be functional, we need to
feel sane, and we cannot do either when we cannot trust.
What causes this dilemma? Inexperience. We are used to trusting ourself making
our own decisions, ruling our own destiny. And we are used to trusting others they making
our decisions and ruling our destiny. When this construct begins to crumble (and crumble it

must, for it is just an illusion bought into by the ego), we the go into crisis. We no longer have
an operating system, so in desperation we lash out. We either take it out on ourself or pound
up somebody else. Our operating construct tells us that when things dont go the right way (i.e.
our way), someone/thing is to blame. And, to justify our feelings, that someone/thing is also to
What is the way out? More appropriately, we should be asking, What is the way in?.
If we were to draw an image of ourself as a functioning being, we would probably depict
ourself with a large head, a tiny stick-figure body, and a little dot for a heart. Is it any wonder
that we would have difficulty in relating with the immense, complex and beautiful Web of Life?
The way in is getting caught in the Web. Its scary, because well no longer have
The Web is powerful much stronger than the ego. And the Web is all-encompassing far
more intimate than our construct. Is it worth embracing our fear to do it? Go and ask
Sparrow, ask any Flower, ask a Rock. Anyone who lives the Old Way will tell you that the Bliss
of Communion is the Unending Orgasm of Life. Can you imagine anyone trading that in for the
illusion of control?

The 4th Threshold to Wilderness Attunement

(rough draft)
(This threshold gets separate coverage because is in a class by itself.) The fourth
threshold differs from the first three in that they are personal thresholds whereas the fourth is
social. The fourth carries us into the interactive realm of our relations, thus it here gets
separate coverage. So in that sense this could be considered the first threshold of another level
because crossing over it allows us to join the Circle of Life, to be a functioning organ within the
organism, to be accepted and embraced as a true child of the Mother.
We are social beings. Like the Wolf, who has a social structure similar to us, we reach
the full potential of our intendedness the full ability to develop and share the special gift of
self which makes us unique amongst all others only when we are in our social circle. I came to
see this first in Wolves during the time I lived with them in my early adulthood. I noticed that
each had a unique personality and temperament, each had a talent different from the others.
For example, Dushum Nashak Earth-Thunderer, the biggest male in the pack had a sweet,
easy-going disposition. He was the baby-sitter and doting uncle to the pups. They would crawl
all over him, bite his tail, pounce on him, disturb his naps, and he would take it all good
humoredly. He acted as though his sole purpose in life was to give those pups caring attention
and nourishment. His name obviously reflected his size (he weighed nearly as much as me)
more so that his temperament.
Wolfie was the leader. Only two thirds of Deshum Nashaks size he was still pack
leader. It was not because of his superior strength and tenacity as some would have you believe
constitutes Wolf leadership but rather because of his ability at maintaining perspective and
coordinating the gifts and abilities of each individual within the pack. He gained respect from the
pack for this ability and was thus afforded leadership role. This does not mean that at times he
did not have to assert his leadership, but when he did it was for the good of the pack and
therefore by consent of the pack.
Yet Wolfie was pack leader only in the political sense. Around the den his mate, Simbut
Meaxtkao (Silver Wolf), or Simbut for short, guided the flow of energy, and Deshum Nashak
ran the nursery and elementary school. So is the leader is to some degree a matter of
perspective and to some degree a matter of what of at what particular time and how intimately
one observes the pack. With our cultures bias towards external structure and the political
arena we tend to label the political leader as pack leader. This interactiveness of abilities and
the respect of each for the abilities of the others is the social pattern we break into when we
cross the fourth threshold. The hierarchical structure which we came from does not work on
The Mothers Bosom. When we try to impose it, we must either dominate, i.e. destroy The
Earth in order to force it to fit our model, or we must remain alone in order to maintain our
But to remain alone is a virtual impossibility for social animals. We are not designed to
fulfill all of our own needs and wants, so we end up existing rather than living. And usually not
for long at that. An organ cannot live long outside the organism, but such be the fate of one
that tries to dominate the rest. We almost always go crazy when we are alone for long periods

of time. We start hearing voices and having strange irrational thoughts and compulsions. They
destroy us from the inside; we become the victim of a weeding out process that helps to keep
balance amongst The Mothers children.
On average it takes an individual about three Moons (months) to reach the point where
the I-Me-Mine centered existence becomes an obvious sham. Anger starts to well up,
sometimes turns to rage. One starts to fill phoney, like hes never really been himself. He feels
like hes never had a real friend. It becomes hard to focus on a project, or follow a train of
thought. He gets frustrated that he cannot remember from one moment to the next. He
thoughts become fuzzy. The world out there that he came from feels distant, unfamiliar.
He, that is the I-Me-Mine part of him, is struggling for control. He defines himself by his
ego, his mind. That worked in the artificial construct of the mind know as Civil Society, but
her amidst the Mothers children the illusion only goes as far and last as long as does strength
of will. We are not designed to be dominated by our rational mind, we did not evolve to
function that way. To think that we do (and only the rational mind thinks that we do, because
it is the self-appointed king of our consciousness) is just as ludicrous as imagining Wolfie being
the actual leader of the pack. Our rational mind is the last part of our brain to come into
being. It evolved as an adjunct to our mind, to serve it, and not for us to be enslaved to it.
We are feeling beings. Our feelings nourish us, motivate us, heal and cleanse us. Our
mind helps us to live, our feelings tell us we are alive.
Our minds will keep us alive as long as our feelings give us the motivation to live. For
that we need the support, acceptance, and trust of our community. In order to get over this
threshold the gap between ego and community we need to do two things. We need to
allow our feelings all of our feelings, and we need to accept those feelings without prejudice
or denial. All feelings are legitimate. There are no good or bad feelings, proper or improper
feelings, they just are.
To deny or suppress a feeling is not only to deny some of the force of life; it is futile. A
feeling remains unexpressed only for so long. If it is not spontaneously allowed the light of day
it will eventually surface in another form. Thus loneliness becomes envy, fear becomes anger,
and love becomes hate.
The anger that I mentioned above as symptomatic of a person facing this threshold, is
the result of suppressed, unexpressable emotion. Suppression often turns anger into rage.
Suppression turns loneliness into aloneness. We come to realize that we feel alone not just
lonely, but alone. This is because we tenaciously cling to our illusions, even though it gives us
no nourishment, no sense of community.
When, often in desperation, we break through this threshold by letting feelings flow
(often in a great release of emotion), we wake up one day realizing we no longer feel lonely
even though we may be alone. Thats because we have had an opening, we know intrinsically,
deep in our gut, that we are a dancing ripple of feeling within the flow of the greater river of
feeling. We have come to know humility as the shroud of our pride has rotted away from
around it. Our tears have cleansed the stench of pride from it and our resignation to our
feeling self has allowed us to emerge walking in honor and respect.
Now we can experience communion, now we can feel as peers, as brother and sister to

all of the relations. We are no longer taking or giving, no longer controlling or being controlled.
For that only occurs from the I-Me-Mine perspective. Now our place is to be, to be in sharing
communion, and our role is to experience to experience the feeling of being, of being in
communion. The Natives of my area have term for this experience of being; they call it
Nikaanagana, which as closely as I can translate it means All my Relations. It literally means
all the Winged, and the Furred, and the Scaled, and the Leafed, and the Mineral Beings, and
the Wind. This term is uttered when entering or leaving a sacred lodge or a ceremony because
it acknowledges the Oneness with all of life, the sharedness of Spirit. The Amen of the JudeoChristian tradition and the Om of the Hindu tradition are intended to express the same
utterers recognition of the Balance within the Oneness of All.

Fourth Threshold additions

There is something I learned from a Blackfoot Elder years ago - we become what we
surround ourselves with. If we want to change, we surround ourselves with the people we
would most like to be like. If we stay in the surroundings that formed our state of being, that
will be further reinforced. I know those old surroundings keep drawing you back. You express
feelings of isolation when you are not there. Thats understandable, and quite common. For
some reason our psyche does not allow us full immersion in the natural community until we
can create some space by releasing ourselves from the civilized construct. I know its hard - I
witness it all the time with so many people. Going over that threshold is a big part of the yearlong program here, and just about everyone else who comes here experiences it also. It took
me ten years to walk through that threshold. I was so distraught over it that I once held a knife
to my chest, ready to plunge it in. It was the greatest crisis in my life, and it brought perhaps
the greatest gift. I have been lifted from bondage; I can now walk amongst my former captors
as a free man.
Group consciousness needs interaction to develop. Not sharing a meal, not talking, but
doing things together. We, like other social animals, evolved our social capacity so that we can
do/function as a unit. This is true with Human people as well as with the non-Human people in
our circle.
The Fourth Threshold to Wilderness Attunement
1st 3 personal thresholds
really 1st threshold because allows us to join Circle of life, to be a functioning
organ with the organismaccepted, embraced as a Child of Mother.
social animals
go crazy alonestart hearing voices

Takes about three Moons to reach point where I-me-mine-centered existence becomes an
obvious sham
anger starts to well up
feel phony
feel like never had real friend
hard to focus, remember
thoughts become fuzzy
familiar world out there becomes distant
mind controlsnot designed toevolved last, to serve, not for us to be
a slave to
we feeling beings
need support, acceptance trust of community to get over
need to allow feelingsall feelings
need to accept feelings
When break through this threshold no longer lonely, even when alone, because can
then experience communion/sharing with people of all the realms.

Native Lifeway The Circle Way

An except from Tamaracks upcoming book:

Spirit Fire: A Course on Kindling the Flame of Vision and the Voice of the Ancestors

The rituals and relationships we are about to immerse ourselves in, spring from a way of
living with Earth Mother and Sky Father that is quite different from that of the Civilized
Lifeway. Perhaps it would be easier see the difference if we were to think of Civilized Lifeway
as a lens through which we have been taught to view The Mother and The Father. Many of us
are not aware that the lens exists. If we cannot recognize it, we cannot look around it. It then
keeps us blind to the intense beauty and profound teachings of our Intrinsic Lifeway.
In this section we will peek over the lens, so that we may come to know some of the
basic precepts of Native Lifeway. Perhaps the most alienating distortion that the lens causes is
the view that material and spiritual existence can be separated from each other. This allows us to
think that Native spirituality can be practiced, like a Civilized religion, outside the context of
Native Lifeway.
As you will see, the spiritual basis of Native Lifeway manifests itself in everyday life as
much as it does in ceremony and ritual. In actuality there is no distinction between spiritual and
secular life. To the Native, all is related life is ceremony and ceremony is life. This is the
Circular way of things; it is the essence of the Old Way. Any approach to the Old Way needs to
begin with an awareness of the Circular view of life, which is shared by all Native People.
Youll see it emerging continually throughout this book, boldly in places like the Sweat Lodge
Ceremony and Passing Over, and subtly just about everywhere else.
The following is only a brief introduction to a way of life that would take not only a
lifetime, but access to many lifetimes of memory, to know. Yet I trust that these words can
provide a clear view around the lens, if not actually shattering it. Then you will be able to much
more easily connect with the adventure of discovery that awaits you...
The Old Way and how we lost it
I refer to the way of living which is common to the Indigenous Peoples of The Earth as
the Old Way. It is old only in the sense that the vast majority of Humans no longer live it. Yet it
is alive and well, as it is also the way of all things natural every brother and sister, whether
they be furred or feathered or scaled, whether they be of Stone or Fire or Air or Water. In fact, it
is the way of the Cosmos. Only those few but unfortunate plants and animals the Civilized
People have domesticated, no longer live the Old Way.
The Old Way is the Circle Way the way of interdependence. Honoring comes easy in
the Circle, because everybody faces everybody, and everybody touches, and is touched, by
everybody. Our Ancestors who lived the Old Way of hunting, fishing and foraging, left us a
verdant legacy pleasing to the eye and to the soul. The Streams ran clear, the Rain fell clean, and
the seed grew of itself and died and grew again.
And then a few of our Ancestors chose to sow the seed themselves, and agriculture the
basis of Civilization was born. They sought to control and regiment The Mothers
benevolence. They traded Earth sufficiency for self sufficiency, and in doing so found
themselves moving from a life of interdependence to one of dependence.
With agriculture came the necessary support structures of ownership and hierarchy. The
Earth became property a secularized, inanimate commodity. A resource. A food factory.
An investment. An inheritance. From this basis grew the society we have today, complete with

concentration of wealth and power, predatory trade and warfare, and the enslavement of Humans
(nobody works voluntarily) and animals (Chickens have no choice), and plants (nor do House or
Garden plants), and Water (nor do dammed Rivers or pumped Groundwater), and minerals.
The Old Way economy, which is based on the flow of foraging, cannot support the abovementioned Civilized traits. Instead, its small interactive groups, which share in spirit, strife, and
pleasure, encourage a more personally involved, less structured lifeway.
Structure is not needed when there is Balance. When Keewaydinoquay, my beloved
Elder, still Walked amongst us, she was fond of saying:
Blessings and Balance
Balance and Blessings
for out of Balance
flows all Blessings
She repeated it often, I believe so that we could reflect upon the wisdom therein...
The term Balance at first glance appears to be linear, as in balancing the two sides of a
scale, or balancing work and family time.
A Native Person knows Balance in a different way, as a characteristic of flow rather than
as a comparative measurement. For her, Balance is Lifes rhythm and spiral. For example, she
will watch the plants grow, die, and grow again... in a continual spiral, in rhythm with the
Seasons. The Civilized Person will plant seeds, then harvest the plants. Period. If he does not
plant again, there are no more plants.
The major difference between the two Balances is that Civilized Balance is controlled by
the individual, and Native Balance dwells outside the self. More specifically, it resides in the
Greater Circle. The Native can feel this Balance, she is the Balance, in the same way that the
Flower is the Meadow and the Meadow is the Flower. In this place of Balance, she breathes and
is breathed in, she has two hands and two thousand hands, she has talons and fins and a brow of
clouds. Like the Flower, she has no bounds. She is the Circle, and the Circle is her.
Chapter One
The Native Commandments: Life in the Web
In Civilized cultures, Balance is achieved by means of religious and political laws. The
manner of Old Way living renders governance, redundant. Balance is maintained by Honoring
the Circle. The only laws in the Old Way are natural laws. These laws (or more accurately,
Awarenesses) are no more than observations of the Circular nature of things.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the primary laws governing individual and social
behavior are called Commandments rules for living commanded by God. There is sanction
to punish those who would break the Commandments. This relationship of law to life reflects
the pyramidal structure of Civilization a small group sets the terms of the majoritys
In Native Lifeway, seldom does anyone command someone else to do something.
Because natural laws are neither directives nor ideals to be lived up to, there is no meted
punishment for not following them. They are simply the way life is. They are as intrinsic to life
as breath itself one can hardly help but follow them. Life goes on in endless Balance when
the Awarenesses are Honored. When People attempt to deny them and live by others which they
have created, they cease to live in Native (Circular) Balance and begin to live in Civilized
(linear) Balance. Some who Walk the Old Way, say that those who lead linear lives are no

longer living. At best, perhaps they merely exist. In exchange for control, the Civilized Way has
traded a long-term Life of Balance for its short-term existence.
In many ways the Native Commandments, the Balance Awarenesses, are Honored by
Native People, both consciously and in spirit. The Awarenesses reflect throughout their everyday
lives. In rituals, the Awarenesses play central roles, and they are echoed daily whenever Thanks
is Given for Blessings received. This active voicing of the Awarenesses keeps the People
mindful of them and helps keep them from being the taken for granted.
The First Awareness: The Great Mother provides all that is needed within ones Circle of
A Native Person walks literally on the breast of his mother. He knows The Earth Mother
as a living being who provides all of his needs food, clothing, shelter, comfort, and warmth, as
well as emotional and spiritual sustenance. He trusts implicitly in this, just as when he was a
babe and trusted in his birth mother to provide these things. He knows that he will always be a
child of The Mother, and thus be provided for until his last breath and beyond. He does not fear
hunger or cold or loneliness, because his Mother is always with him.
He knows that he does not belong to his birth mother, that she was but a surrogate, caring
for him in The Great Mothers name until he was ready to be presented back to Her.
This is the basis of his Respect for all Life. Every being every Two-Legged, and
Winged and Scaled and Leafed is his sibling. To unnecessarily hurt one of them would be to
draw grief upon their Mother-in-common. To take more than he needed would amount to
plucking from the mouth of his brothers and sisters. To dig wantonly into the Earth would be to
rip into the skin of his Mother, causing her to wail in anguish.
The Second Awareness: Giving is Receiving.
The common belief is that when you give, you lose, and when you receive, you gain. You
keep first for yourself, to assure that you and yours are taken care of. That is linear Balance.
From the perspective of Circle Balance, there is no difference between giving and
receiving they each nourish both the individual and the Circle. Let me illustrate...
Imagine you are one of your bodys organs, lets say the liver. You take care of the
wastes from the rest of the body and you store energy for it for the heart, the lungs, the
muscles, and so on. In turn, they provide you, the liver, with blood, oxygen, mobility, and so
It may appear that the liver is giving only in order that it might receive the same old
cause-and-effect Civilized Way of getting things done. In actuality there is a sharing of energies
going on that is so complex that giving and receiving cannot be distinguished from each other.
As the liver, you are just a link in a Circle, Walking your intended Path by allowing to flow
through you what you are being given by the Circle. Is that functioning as a distinct entity,
primarily concerned for you and yours?
Lets look at it in another way... In a linear sense, a gift that I receive is mine. In the
Circle Way, I receive the gift in order that it may be gifted again. And again... Only from ego
perspective is a gift for receiving; most Natives know that a gift is for giving. In order to Honor
the Journey of a gift, Natives harbor no expectations over where a gift is to eventually go or how
it is to be used.

Nor do they have expectations about receiving in return. Yes, things come to us, but that
does not necessarily mean that they are coming because we have given. We receive because we
are children of The Mother and the beneficiaries of Her Love. And we give because we are a
facet of The Mothers Giving Flow.
This form of giving cannot necessarily be called generosity, because we have no choice
but to give. Nor do we need to receive with graciousness, because we have no choice but to
receive. Whether or not we are consciously involved in the giving and receiving, we are giving
and receiving.
To help you gain a feel for this form of giving and receiving, imagine it to be more of a
Web than a Circle. Most of you are familiar with the circular giving-receiving concept What
goes around, comes around, Give unto others as you would have them give unto you, and the
concepts of karma and redemption through reincarnation. A Web has many interconnected
strands which come and go in myriad directions, and create a plethora of varied forms and
shapes. Which strand comes and which strand goes, or from where to where it goes, is nearly
impossible to decipher. Many strands support a single strand, and a single strand supports many.
All co-mingle in a complex, symbiotic relationship. Every strand functions as a giving-receiving
organ within the greater organism the Web. The Web is then a giving-receiving organ within an
even greater organism, and so on.
As you can probably now see, there is no real distinction between giving and receiving,
no matter which way you look at the web. The concept of giving and receiving is an artificial
construct. In reality, sources, directions, and intentions are near-impossible to identify, much less
trace. Without the ability to separate giving from receiving, the sources of gifts and the
directions of their flow seem to blend together and lose their distinction. Thats why giving is
The concept of giving and receiving is based upon another artificial construct the
concept of surplus and want. It seems to fit that if I have surplus, I give, and if I have want, I
receive. Our Ancestors who became agriculturalists developed these constructs in an effort to
find Balance with agricultures perennial boom and bust cycle.
A Native has no use for surplus; it bogs her down. The wealth a Native has use for, the
wealth that makes sense in her life, is that of character and Vision. Material wealth gets in the
way of that, so material things in and of themselves hold no value. Their value is in their
Material goods are shared with those in need, whether or not they are surplus. The
Native does not give out of some altruistic sense to provide for the needy. She gives for herself,
because it is her nature. It is the nature of all things. She is like Wolf, who leaves what he does
not need of his kill, for Raven and Fox and Chickadee to feast upon.
Like Wolf, the Native does not need to herd animals ( i.e., give) in order to have them available
to eat ( i.e., receive). The Mother takes care of those particulars (the first Awareness The
Mother provides). Here we can see how the two Awarenesses are so related that they are
actually reflections of each other. They form a Circle. That is how a Native might describe the
relationship if he even distinguished one from the other! For him, Walking the Awarenesses
in his life is innate behavior, so he might, as I sometimes do, merely explain them as the Circle

Chapter Two
Honor and Respect
Reared through childhood in interdependence with all their Relations, Native People
grow up naturally Honoring that Circle, and naturally Respectful of all who dwell within it. This
includes showing Honor and Respect for themselves. Because of the circular nature of Native
Lifeway, it is near impossible to Honor and Respect others and not self, or vice versa.
These principles are so intrinsic that when they are breached, the shame experienced, and
the self-imposed retribution, are often so intense that any disciplinary action would pale in
comparison. The worst punishment for such a socially conscious people as Natives are, is
ostracization, and that is usually also self-imposed.
This universal regard permeates the fabric of their lives and reflects in their everyday
activities. Id like to show this by using the example of a Native meal. In particular, note the
manner in which Guardians (mistakenly called Warriors by Civilized People) help to maintain
the traditions of Honor and Respect through their behavior:
In Native bands of my knowing, Honor is given to Elders at mealtime by serving them
first. This is out of Respect for the wisdom of their years and their esteemed place in the Kinship
There is also a practical consideration: Elders are the carriers of the Clan Knowledge
the lessons of experience that have been passed down through the generations. This gives Elders
an indispensable role in the survival and longevity of the Clan. In times of privation, they are
least expendable, so all effort is made to ensure their survival. The passing on of the Clan
knowledge, rather than the survival of the Elders per se, becomes the reason for their eminent
consideration. Were it not for the Clan knowledge, good arguments could be made to prioritize
the survival of other Clan members over Elders.
Visitors are served directly after the Elders. If the meal be a Feast and there be Guests of
Honor, such as couples being Wed or someone being Honored for special service, they are also
served directly after the Elders. It is customary that Visitors and Guests of Honor be given the
best of everything, including the place of Honor beside the Elders. (Mealtime or not, and whether
or not there is enough food to go around, Visitors are Honored by being offered food.)
The Women are served next, along with their Nurslings, for together they are the
progenitors of the coming generations. If there be scarcity, Women, the Unborn, and the Very
Young are first in need of steady nourishment.
Next come the Men. They give Honor to the Women by following them and, by being
between the Women and Children, are in good position to be a help to both.
The Children gain their food following the Men. This usually includes Toddlers, as they
are often under the care of their older siblings. Children practice patience and exercise humility
by waiting until after Elders, Guests, Women and Men have their fare. In this way they also give
Respect. The objective consideration is that if there be shortage, Children can better do with less
than their Elders or Mothers. And in dire straits as heartless as it may sound children are
more expendable.
Last are the Guardians. If food is in short supply, they sit in pride and contentment, even

with empty bowls. Forgoing their share gives them great Honor and good feeling, because in
doing so they fulfill their calling to serve their People by guarding their welfare and assuring their
They are the Clan members who can best take care of themselves; they are in prime
condition, having been trained to thrive on little and creatively gain what they need from diverse
and uncommon sources. If need be, they can quickly secure food for themselves after the
communal meal. Or they can just as easily Fast and gain strength from their giving (whereas
Fasting might weaken others).
When it comes time for the Guardian to fill his bowl, he assesses how much food will be
left for others. He will check to see who may wish for another serving, and if there is anyone
who is infirm or otherwise not present and may arrive hungry later. He will also take into
account the unexpected later Visitor and the possibility of carry-along food being needed by
those going out to hunt or forage. If he is eating alone, he will still exercise the same
When he can confirm that everyone is provided for, he will then take a share. He will
still will not take the last of something, because he has been trained to be as a question in
this case to take into account the possibly that someone may have escaped his attention.
If in kindness he is still offered the last of the food, he may yet take only half. In this way
he Honors the gesture, and at the same time allows for the possibility that the offer was an
expression of selflessness and Honoring more so than because there was food enough for him.
Such caring and generosity of spirit, which the Guardian is particularly trained to
exemplify, is typical of Old Way Peoples in general. To carry the well-being of your People
uppermost in your heart is the epitome of Circle Attunement.
Chapter Three
The Cradleboard: First Step in Awareness
Awareness brings perspective; Attunement brings focus. The Circle Way is to approach
Attunement within the context of Awareness. This is essential for the Journey of Knowing that
you are undertaking. It will allow you, once you reconnect with yourself, to live in Balance with
your surroundings.
We Walk our Journey not so much to find lifes meaning as to find its richness. This is
the gift of Attunement. To become Attuned is to become fully awake, shimmeringly vibrant, and
completely absorbed in the experience of the Now. Without this Attunement, our relationship
with The Mother is destined to be drab and mechanical.
Attunement is achieved through mental, physical, and spiritual reawakening. The Native
grows in Attunement through sensory development exercises, mental skill development, and
Awareness is the cradle of Attunement. For the Native Person, Awareness begins,
literally, in the Cradle.
I can tell whether or not a young Child spent his first Moons riding upon his Mother in a
Cradleboard (a Native backpack for carrying a Baby) or Baby sling (Rebozo in Spanish) by the
way he responds when he enters a new room. The uncradled Child will go immediately to the
things that attract him, and explore them. The cradled Child will go first to the center of the
room to observe and gain perspective.
The uncradled Child may be well-suited to a Civilized life; her ability to quickly key-in

and focus on a particular object is a skill she will need for the singular tasks typical of Civilized
existence. The cradled Child will likely be better adapted to Native living; his ability to survey
his surroundings and see a diversity of things could serve him well in his expansive World.
Why is there such a difference between the Native and the Civilized Child? For the
answer, lets look at each Childs yearnings...
Shortly after birth, the Civilized Babe is often placed in a stationary Cradle, isolated from
her Mother. Mom comes and goes; the Babe remains put. She is literally a prisoner of place,
totally dependent upon her Mother to come to her and meet her needs and desires. Because
Mother is not connected enough with the Child to read her needs and wants, it is entirely up to
her to get her Mothers attention if she wants to have them met.
She soon finds that her normal language a facial expression, whimper or chortle
does not work over distance. She has to cry to get Moms attention. The Babes constant efforts
to be recognized, tended to, and touched, followed by delayed gratification, create a yearning
within her that becomes chronic. She learns early that contentment is only temporary, that
Mothers leaving is inevitable. She becomes chronically starved.
She ends up developing a hard, pragmatic outlook: what she can grasp, she can rely on;
what is beyond her reach, she mistrusts. It is fleeting and unreliable, so she cannot risk putting
faith in it. In the extreme, she may even deny its existence.
Her outlook is reinforced by encouragement to crawl and walk as soon a she is possibly
able, and to explore as much as she can. This suits her well; it offers her an escape from prison!
Finally she has her own way of getting her needs met! Now she can satisfy her chronic yearnings
by trusting in the one constant in her life herself.
In getting her needs met in the only way she knows, shes often perceived by others as
clingy, whiny, and getting into everything. In reality, she is getting her needs met in the way that
she has been trained. Because she is literally starving for constancy and connection in her life, no
amount of discipline seems to sway her from her course.
The Native Child spends his first turn of the seasons or so in a portable Cradle. He goes
wherever his Mother goes, which is easily accomplished because, like a backpack, he can be
slipped on and off at will. On her back (or front, when nursing) he feels secure in her presence.
He smells her and hears her voice and feels the rhythm of her movements. At the same time her
arms are free to tend to her tasks.
His merest expression can be sensed by her, and she is able to respond immediately.
Because of that, he grows to feel secure and trusting. His Mothers feet are his feet, his Mothers
world is his world. He is ever a part of her Circle. When she rests or is otherwise occupied, she
places the Cradleboard close beside her or hangs it from a nearby branch, so that he can watch
and remain connected. Whatever the situation, she makes sure that he is involved and receives
So nourished, he grows content within himself. He has little need to grab or cling to
something for fear it might otherwise disappear. He does not know the chronic sickness of
relentless yearning, because he is blessed to continually dwell in the Circle of Life and Love.
Now, back to the entering-a-room scenario: because of the Cradleboard/Rebozo
experience, the Native Child is accustomed to gaining perspective before interacting. He can
afford the time for it because he is content. Calm is his natural state, because he has not had to
resort to frenetic gorging to get his needs met in limited time. And he has the patience to gain
perspective, because he is centered within himself. He has not been driven to impatience by
endless waiting.

He is naturally autonomous because he ventures forth from a foundation of loving

presence, and he knows he has that foundation to return to. He is naturally Respectful and
willing to serve, because his needs have been Respected and served. From before his first breath,
he has been included and granted Respect as a full member of the Circle.
The integrity of the Native and his ability to perform feats of both character and strength,
are born of his early days in the portable Cradle. Many of the neuroses of Civilized cultures,
from dysfunctional relationships to conspicuous consumption, can be traced back to early
patterns cast in the stationary, isolated Cradle.
I raised my child, Wabineshi, the Cradleboard way while we were living in a Cabin. It
can be done virtually anywhere, because it is the way, not the trappings, that make the difference.
In the tradition of my Elders, I made his Cradleboard at the time of his Birth. The
teachings of the Cradleboard are so personal and fundamental to the Babes development that
tradition suggests the Cradleboard be used only by the Babe it was made for.
Raising a child the Cradleboard way does not mean that she always has to be in the
Cradleboard. When not traveling or outdoors, the Cradleboard may not be necessary. The
important element is Honoring her presence by considering her immobility and keeping her
involved in the moments activity.
Occasionally we would use the Cradleboard indoors. I have pictures of times when we
hung Wabineshi-in-Cradleboard on the living room wall... or was it off the wall? I remember
one time when Wabineshi was agitated and we couldnt figure out why. His unsettled state went
on for most of the morning, and it was starting to wear on our nerves. We were indoors at the
Cabin, where we seldom used the Cradleboard. Knowing how contented he usually was in the
Cradleboard, we decided to lace him in and set him down the middle of our activity. His
fidgetiness left him immediately and a rosy smile spread over his face!
The important element of raising a child in the Cradleboard way is that she be kept in the
center of activity and be regularly and promptly tended to. Wabineshi was nearly always with
one or both of his parents he was a part of our daily activities, and he was nursed and slept
with us until his fourth Winter.
Before that time he did not know a baby-sitter or the pain of separation. His first parting
from us, shortly after he quit nursing, was laced with tears. However, the courage to venture
forth alone followed soon behind the tears. We waited until that time so that he would be secure
enough to risk the unknown and old enough to understand that he was not being abandoned. He
could then personally manifest his Circle Attunement.
Chapter Four
Circle-direction and Self-direction
Circle Attunement requires stepping beyond self. Unfortunately, much of the Civilized
Way is preoccupied with stepping more into self. The trend is going ever more toward defining
the self as distinct from the Circle separate from Sky, Earth, and the Relations. The anthem of
the day self-fulfillment, self-healing, self-development, personal power, assertiveness
saturates the media and rolls in unison from millions of tongues.
Once The Circle is broken once self is separated from other the Walking is seen as
separate from the goal. It is then possible to wage peace and imagine it to be different from
waging war. Or even to kill for peace (or country or Earth or God), and then condemn others

who kill for the same reasons.

Self-fulfillment... can we actually fulfill ourselves? Self-healing... is that really what is
happening? Self-development... how are we able to develop ourselves? Is assertiveness our
natural way of being? Can peace really come from war? We are on a personal Journey; does that
mean we are on a Journey for self?
When we ask, Am I depressed? Am I content? Am I healing? Am I growing
spiritually? we are looking for answers that relate to self. A Native may ask similar questions.
The difference between hers and a Civilized Persons is that she would probably be asking on
behalf of her People.
To dichotomize for the sake of illustration: The Civilized focus is primarily on receiving;
in the Old Way, giving is receiving. Therefore, when I attend to the healing of the Circle, I am
also healed; when I feed the Elders and Children, I am also fed.
From Circle perspective, focus on the individual is in Balance when it is within the
context of the People. One reason Civilized People lose that context and find it hard to progress
beyond me, is their culturally-inspired goal to feel good. Thats why a Civilized person will
often try to immerse himself in the Old Way by assembling a personal collection of ritual
experiences and craft skills me experiences. If he had Circle perspective, he would be more
drawn to the ways of Honor and Respect.
Ask yourself these questions if youd like to know whether your life is Circle-directed or
Are my first thoughts of the morning on how I might Walk the Day in Honor?
When I consider the effect of my actions, do the Ancestors and the Unborn come to mind?
Or is my main consideration for how I might benefit?
A Woman once asked me for advice on whether or not she should look for a new job. I
suggested that she could answer her own question by asking herself whether her considerations
were for the Greater Good or to serve herself. Usually, when we are considering choices, we are
self-serving; when we are listening to Guiding Voices, we are serving the Greater Circle.
Another way of knowing whether or not we are Circle-directed is by determining if we
are living in the moment or for the moment. To live for today is to live for the moment. To be in
the moment is to live as though there is no specific point in time no moment to grab. We are
then rooted not in time but in flow. We invest less in timely product and more in ageless
process. Life becomes less a series of events and more like continual, endlessly varied waves of
Someone who lives this un-relationship with time could find himself feeling like a Hawk
yanked out of the Sky, when he comes in contact with the self-directed World. Its oftentimes
caused not by the big differences in how life is approached, but by the affairs of everyday life.
One example is commemorative celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries. The difference
is not in how they are celebrated, but in whether or not they are even recognized. Natives, not
being inclined to capture the moment, do not to keep track of the dates of significant events. In
fact, they dont know what calendar dates are! Many, if not most, could not tell you their age.
When life is a continuum, there is little reason to keep track of time, and much reason not to.
If a Native were asked to chronicle the passage of his life, he would probably do so in
much the way that I would describe the unfolding of a Flower, from tender shoot to bud, to
blossom, and then to withered bloom and seed. For the Native, these unfoldings from one phase
to another of his life would be marked by Rites of Passage (which are the subject matter of Part
IV of this book). They, rather than abstract dates, are the story of his life.

Those who lead self-serving lives are often perplexed by this way of life that to them does
not make rational sense. It is as though the Native walks to the beat of a different Drum. And
indeed he does. Because it cannot be heard by them, they tend to wonder if her unexplainable
behavior might be because of lack of motivation or because she is deficient in some way. In the
extreme, they might attribute her unorthodox behavior to demons that must be possessing her.
No wonder Circle-directed People are often at best tolerated, and more often persecuted!

Chapter Five
Circle Attunement in Communication
Another prime example of the difference between Circle direction and self direction is
seen when a Native person and a Civilized person engage in conversation. Civilized People are
taught that in order to hold someones attention and convey sincerity, you should stand directly in
front of him and look him in the eye. In the Natural Realm, such conduct would be taken as a
sign of dominance. The behavior is also similar to a predators when stalking prey.
Understandably then, animals can get nervous when theyre stared at! In fact, they will
do practically anything to break the gaze bolt, submit, or counter-attack. I used to play a game
with the Wolves I lived with: we would stare each other in the eye until one of us broke the gaze.
Being trained in the Civilized Way, I could quite easily win.
The game being so against their natures, they Honored me by trusting me enough to play
it with me. And yet it was usually hard to catch their gaze in order that we could play it. I most
often initiated the game, but once in a while I would catch one of them looking intently at
something on my body that caught their attention, and the game was on!
Once we made eye contact, I could feel the tension steadily build, until they couldnt take
it anymore. Sometimes they would just turn their heads, as though something else got their
attention. At other times they would whine and whimper from the stress, and occasionally they
would lunge or snap and me. Fortunately for me, it was not malicious it was just their way of
saying Enough!
The more we played the game, the more I recognized that I was feeling the stress also.
The Wolves were my mirror; they were helping me get back in touch with my innate ways. In
my youth I lived between two worlds, so I never fully acculturated to the Civilized Way. Yet I
was conditioned enough to think that being able to look someone in the eye was a positive trait.
Still I had trouble practicing it, which left me feeling guilty and inadequate. I give Honor to my
sister and brother Wolves for guiding me back to Balance. Were it not for them, I might still be
struggling with alien ways of communication.
We have the innate ability to feel when we are being gazed upon, even though we dont
know by whom. Have you ever felt that you were being stared at? Have the hairs on the back of
your neck ever stood up because you sensed an unknown presence? This is a survival trait,
evolved over the eons in response to being stalked. As with the gaze game the Wolves and I
used to play, the animal being stalked becomes increasingly agitated and wants to break eye
contact. Out of sight, out of consideration for dinner.
A Deer wants so desperately to know what she is up against that she will stomp and snort
in an effort to entice the stalker to charge, or at least to show himself. Without knowing the
whereabouts of her stalker, she would run the risk of bounding right into him if she were to bolt.

We Humans would naturally respond in the same way become agitated, then go into
defense-escape mode. So why do Civilized Humans do exactly the opposite and return the stare?
Because assertiveness rules. Dominance is everything.
Old Way People come together in a Circle, where there is room for everybody. Civilized
People form a pyramid, where theres little room on the top and a lot of room on the bottom.
This creates an artificial competitive environment, where the dominance game is played
according to civilized rules.
One of the game strategies is assertiveness. Proponents of assertiveness claim than it
gives Honor and Respect to self and other. From my perspective, its still about winning and
losing. Stripped of its positive communication technique veneer, it shows itself to me as more
of a survival technique a bloodless enactment of the prey-predator drama. Professional liars
(read:predators) know this. They train to be able to look someone in the eye while they are lying,
which gives their lie better odds of passing for truth. An accepted lie means they win, they
While a Native might feel edgy sitting before a Civilized Person who has locked her in
his gaze, the Civilized Person could feel disregarded, because she doesnt think she has his
attention. Even though he might be listening intently, it may not seem so to her, because his
senses (including sight) are also attuned to the Greater Circle.
Why the disparity in the twos perceptions? The Civilized cultural ideal is not to be
present, but to be on top. The way to the top is to focus. Conquer a Mountain focus, be
successful in your career focus, get to Heaven focus.
From the earliest age, those of the Civilized Way are trained to focus. Mass media
seduces you to focus, mass education forces you to focus. Keep your nose to the grindstone...
Keep your eyes on the road... Sit at your desk and dont look around... Finish one thing at a
time... Choose a major, choose a career, choose a religion... The litany is endless. Whether it be
school or work, play or pray, the message is focus.
This goes against Human nature. Thats why so many struggle with distraction
toddlers wandering, children fidgeting, talking, and laughing at inappropriate times, teachers
struggling to keep first-time students at their desks. Nor are adults immune; there is a reason
The Grass is greener on the other side of the fence is a popular saying. Like breaking a Horse
so that she will accept a rider, Humans need to be broken in order to accept focus.
The focus on focus serves Civilized People well. In Civilization, one can be single of
purpose, because life is one-dimensional. Variables have been largely controlled or eliminated,
and what is left of life has been efficiently cubbyholed.
In the Old Way, that would spell death. One could not afford to have his nose up against
a Tree and ignore the Forest. There is a fourth dimension in the Hoop of Life flow. Unlike
the directional flow of a River, this flow is an intermingling of energies in a constant state of
transformation. Picture billiard balls bouncing one into the other, off of cushions, and then back
into each other. They are constantly changing speed and direction, sitting still for a moment, then
moving again, faster, slower, in one direction, then another.
Someone could not survive on that billiard table without being continuously aware of this
intricate interplay, and of how it might affect you at any given moment. The instant someone
would focus himself exclusively on something, he would become vulnerable.
Deer remains constantly alert, even when browsing or drinking. She will take a bite
mouthful of Grass, then raise her head to chew it. Wolf keeps alert even when napping. Flock
and herd animals plant sentinels at their perimeters, who act as the eyes and ears for the rest of

the group.
The Native Man who has caused the Civilized Woman to feel disregarded, is doing the
same thing as Deer and Wolf and the herd sentinels. Like them, he keeps watch not only for
himself, but for her. Unbeknownst to her, he is acting as her Guardian.
She is not trained to keep perspective; he does so because he hasnt been trained not to.
He is merely enacting instinctual behavior. If she knew that, if she were in touch with her
intrinsic beingness, she would undoubtedly be thankful and Honor him for his diligence. Instead
she grows frustrated, perhaps even angry, over what she assumes to be his inattentiveness.
Understandable. Trained to be focused and self-directed, she has learned to recognize her
ego as her center. Her world is the world according to her ego. She cant help but be blind to his
awareness. So rather than viewing his actions from Circle perspective, she will judge him
according to how he is relating to her ego.
He, on the other hand, knows himself to be but a voice in a Circle-chorus of many voices.
He would probably feel uncomfortable, even embarrassed, if anothers focus were exclusively on
him. On the other hand, he would most assuredly consider it an Honor to be recognized as a
voice in the Chorus.
Chapter Six
Daily Living
To see how the Circle Way is lived on a Day-to-Day basis, Id like to take you inside a
Native community. There Ill show you its Circle rootedness, and how the Peoples relationship
with Lodge, hearth, material possessions, and work, sings of a Lifeway in Balance with All the
Community in Balance
Our Ancestors, along with the foraging-hunting Peoples of this day, did /do not see
themselves as living in communities. To them, the term Native community is an oxymoron.
They live in encampments minimalist shelter clusters which are as fluid in movement and
detached from place as are the Waters they paddle and the Animals they hunt. The community
they see themselves as part of is the Hoop of Life.
They often live in extended family groups called Clans, which are guided by a Guardian
Animal, or Dodem (which you will learn more about in Part IV of this book). A Clan is
comprised of up to 25 People, which is about the maximum number a Human is biologically
capable of knowing well enough to love and trust.
Clan membership is stable, because it is based upon bonds of blood and spirit. Natives
feel related also with the non-Human Kin of their community, and celebrate that relationship in a
myriad of ways. A few examples are the Respectful way in which they Hunt, the holding of
Honor Feasts for their Dodems, and the joining of their spirits with those of the Plants and
Animals they eat and wear.
They recognize their community as having been there long before them, and as likely
going to continue long after their departure. They see themselves as part of the continuum of that
community, flowing through the Rocks and Plants to the Animals, then back again to the Soil
and Grasses. Their political and economic systems already exist in their community, and are
self-maintaining. Without the need to construct, maintain, or operate those systems, they have

considerable free time and energy for the more qualitative aspects of life.
The loving, trusting relationship within a Clan precludes the need for judicial or social
structures to help assure equality and fairness. In fact, equality as Civilized People know it, does
not exist in the Natural Realm. In place of equality, the Native practices Honor; in place of
democracy, the Native practices Respect.
Those of a Native camp function as organs within an organism, with each having their
own Honored role and place. As with organs, their individual roles are not equal to each others;
they are complementary. The heart, stomach, and liver each give and receive in different ways,
yet each plays a unique, valued and vital role in their Dance of Relationship. With such inherent
synchronicity, a mutual cherishing evolves that pales, even shames, the concept of equality.
So it is with a Native Clan. As with the organs, no one is distinguished as having special
rank or privilege, because everyone does. Its not that there are no leaders; its more that
everyone is a leader. For example, on a typical Day the Medicine Woman is usually
indistinguishable from the rest of her Clan members. She carries on her daily activities just as
would anyone else. Until her healing touch is needed. Then she is Healing Chief everyone
Honors her position and Respects her judgement. The same is true of the Canoe Builder, the
Child, the Elder, the Midwife...
Are the kidneys more important than the lungs? Without either, the organism dies. In the
same way, the Child cannot function without the Elder. And vice versa. Because each and every
person in the Clan, without exception, has a critically important role to play, each has an
Honored place. This way of being with each other and with the Relations is often called the
Gifting Way or the Blessing Way.
These roles change as a person Walks his Hoop of Life the Journey from Birth to
Death and around to Birth again. In the same way that every individual is Honored for his valued
role, each individual is Honored for his time of life. There is no high or low point on the Hoop,
no point in life that is more or less important than another. The Hoop spins smoothly only when
it is completely round, because only then is it in Balance.
A feel for the turn of the Hoop can give precious insight into Clan ways. I would be
Honored to take you on a walk through the seven realms, or worlds, of the Hoop:
As with all Circles, the Hoop of Life has no real beginning or end. Yet we need to join
with the Hoop somewhere, so lets do it at the time of dwelling in the womb what is
often referred to as the first world of the Hoop. Were we of a Native Clan, we would
already be Honored in the womb. The unborn, and those who have Walked On, sit in the
Clan Circle right along with Children, Parents, and Elders. When decisions are made,
mindful consideration is given to generations past and to come.
This is not a special Honoring; it is a natural consideration from someone whose center is
their Heart-of-Hearts that place within where senses, intuition, intellect, feeling, and
Ancestral Wisdom join to form the seat of Balance. It is known to other Peoples by various
names, such as the voice of soul, the Buddha within, the seat of consciousness, and a
persons center. So whenever Natives speak or act, they strive to speak from their Heart-ofHearts. Then their voices naturally reflect the needs and desires of their People, past,
present, and to come.
The second world of the Hoop of Life is the prepubescent years, which run from birth
until the Child reaches10 or12 Winters. Here we discover and develop our senses, and

become acquainted with the world beyond us. We transition from being the center of the
world to realizing there is no center. We are naturally Truthspeakers we dwell in the now
and speak the moments truth. We spontaneously express our feelings regardless as to how
they might be perceived or judged by another. We are natural Sages and Guides, even as we
are guided. We are constant reminders of the guidance of the Wise Ones to be as little
Children. In these ways we of the second world contribute immeasurably to our Clan mates.

The time of adolescence is the third world. This gradual blossoming into the fullness of
adulthood continues for several Turns of the Seasons, sometimes until our 15th Winter or
beyond. Known to some Natives as the Thundering Years, puberty can cause us to feel as
though we are breaking out of our skin. And we are!
It is a time of extremes; in short order, feelings can swing from titanic fear to
astronomical delight. We feel compelled to test and challenge things. We end up
discovering the same things all over again, except this time it is as though they exist in an
entirely new dimension.
From Civilized perspective, this may appear to be a time of
receiving. With all the space, understanding, and support we need, it could easily appear
that our People are giving to us, rather than we to them. As with our infancy and youth, we
give significantly during adolescence also. This is the time during which we seek our Vision
our reason for being. Here we discover our uniqueness the special talent or mission
we have been given that distinguishes us from all the rest of Humankind. It is this Gift that
we will develop in the Walking of our life, in order that one day we may gift it back to our
Sometimes tentatively, sometimes boldly, even recklessly, we leave the third world to
venture into the fourth, the time of our Personal Journey. We take the newfound
awarenesses of puberty and try them out in the world. It is time to see how we fit, and
where we fit.
We are now the Seeker; we search for new places, experiences, and People. We become
sure of things, only to fall flat on our faces and realize how unsure we are. Yet we get up
and try again, and again and again. Our egos are powerful they want a black and white
world, in order to more easily assure us that we are Walking in a purposeful direction. Of
course they do not find that.
This cycle of confidence-unsuredness can continue throughout the fourth world. For
some of us, it will not be until around our 40th Winter that we find Balance with our egos.
There is no way I know of that the sort of complementarity and Honoring that we are here
discussing, can be made to occur in Civilized communities. In fact, most Civilized People
do not complete the entire Hoop before their time of Passing Over. Most get stuck here in
the fourth world, a few progress to the fifth. Those who get stuck in this world often create
illusions of surety (usually with belief systems), so that they dont have to keep falling flat
on their faces. Sometimes the illusions last a lifetime.
In our fourth world, what we sought was centered in the self. Our value to our Clan laid
in our Personal Journey. Now, in the fifth world, which occurs roughly from our 30th to our
45th Winter, we begin to yearn for the knowledge beyond self. Again it appears to be a
receiving time, so it might seem as though we are yet caught up in our egos, continuing the

Quest for self which began at puberty. Then our Gift was what we gathered on our inward
Journey. After that, in the outward Journey of our fourth world, we gifted our People with
the new friends, the new ways of doing things, and the visions of new places, that we
In our fifth world, we now transition from that place of personal knowledge to knowledge
beyond self. We begin to function more as an organ within an organism. Now that we are
no longer wild with energy for growth and discovery, we become more curious about the
hows than the whats. We naturally begin to understand the deeper nuances of Humility and
Honoring. We grow sensitive to the differences between looking and seeing, between
hearing and listening, between touching and feeling. Along with having sex, we can now
also be Lovers. We can act with more a sense of serving.
When in this world, we provide an invaluable service to our Kin group by acting as a
transition between those in the Receiving Time of the Hoop the first half of life, and
those in the Giving Time the second half of life. This helps break down the disparity
between the younger and the older, which in turn helps the Hoop turn more smoothly.
That sense of continuum is largely missing in Civilized communities. Because of that,
Civilized People in the fifth world often experience midlife crises. They lament the passing
of youth and try to hang on to it in a variety of ways that tend to run the gamut from
delusional to damaging.
The sixth world begins around our 45thWinter and takes us to about our 60th. This is our
time of service. Weve now Walked beyond the bounds of our biological self and our ego
self, and into the realm of Oneness the realm of the Greater Self. The state of Love
becomes fully known. The concept of selflessness resonates. In fact, it no longer feels
comfortable to be of service to just the self. In this world, the Guardian Warrior, the
Artisan, the Healer, and the Grandparent come into the fullness of their service.
This is the manifesting of our biological programming. We understand deep in our cores
that giving is receiving, and that it is the Honor Way. Those in the earlier worlds do also,
but being intensely involved in their Journeys of Discovery, it is just not their time to
express it. Because of that, we in the sixth world provide valued example for them of the
spirit of giving. Our example is valued because it is relevant we can still resonate with
them because we have just left their worlds.
The passage to the seventh world, our time to serve as Elders, usually it begins at around
50 or 60 Winters. It is often so gradual that we are not aware of it. We might notice that
People are coming to us more and more for counsel. They will be looking for guidance
regarding matters of heart and spirit more so than for practical advice. Those in the sixth
world, the one we just left, will now be helping the younger canoebuilders and hidetanners;
we will be asked more for guidance on matters such as how to live Honorably with ones
mate, how to listen to the Voice of Vision, and how to resolve conflicts.
We will be inclined to take more time for reflection. As Elders, there will not be less
expected of us, as some might think, but rather different things. We will have become the
Keepers of the Clan Knowledge and the Storytellers. We are now to watch over the Clan,
to listen to its pulse in order to help keep it in Balance. Well find that our smile or frown,
or the direction in which we look, is noticed more by others and carries a different
significance than it once did.

Perhaps the core contribution of the Elder to her Clan is the perspective and depth of
awareness she has gained from living all the worlds of the Hoop of Life. Her counsel comes
from broad-based wisdom that spans the vested interest of any particular individual or the
narrow focus from any particular world in the Hoop.
She has the perspective of the entire Hoop because, when we Walk the Hoop, we do not
transition from one world to the next in the way that someone will pass from grade to grade
in school. Rather, it is as though each world is a transparent dome, and as we progress
through one world, we set that worlds dome over the previous one. And under that one is
the one previous to it. So in essence, we have not left any of those worlds; they are all
equally visible to us, equally accessible. In actuality, we are still the Babe in the womb, the
Child, the Thunderer, the Journeyer, and so on. We can still see and feel what each world
has gifted us.
That is why the Elder has the perspective and teachings of the entire Hoop of Life to
draw from; that is why she is able to embrace the well-being of all her People.
So what went wrong what happened with this natural, Honoring state of being?
Some Humans created communities.
They were forced to do so when they became agricultural. The artificial land-support
base they created, short-circuited their trust in The Mother to provide. It undermined their
relationship with their natural community. They found themselves alone they needed
community. They tried to reinvent the wheel by forming communities.
Now, they came to realize, they were all the more out of Balance: they had heaped one
artificial construct upon another. Their new communities turned out to be even less selfsustaining than their land bases. Now they had to develop another tier of artificial constructs in
order to maintain their communities political, social, economic and religious systems.
These constructs werent Honor and Respect, and they were high maintenance, but they
did keep the new communities functioning.
After a fashion. A raft of social problems sprang up that never before existed, such as
poverty, theft, and orphans. Systems of enforcement and extraction were needed to keep the
communities propped up and keep their inhabitants from preying upon each other. Enter the next
tier of constructs taxation, exploitative technology, slavery (plant, animal, and Human), class
systems, incarceration, and morality.
The upshot: they created something that never before existed a sedentary, materialistic
toil-based way of life. Everybodys bowl was now filled for them. No longer was there need to
Quest for a personal Guiding Vision, no longer was there time to Walk the Personal Journey, no
longer was there time for the teachings of the Deer and the Squirrel.
A full bowl does a person little good. She can no longer honestly question, because she
has no room for what might come. To question with a full bowl merely creates the illusion of
openness. She has probably quit questioning anyway, because she has lost her hunger. Hunger
encourages adaptability; she is no longer adaptable. No longer does she give (or her bowl would
not be full). There is no place for the Ancestors, no place for the coming Children, no place for
the Relations. There is not even room for herself. She goes through life like Fox in the
following legend:
Fox was young and full of vigor. He felt fully grown, yet he did not know the world. An
urge welled up from within to go on his Journey to take what he had learned and try it out in

places different from the one in which he had grown up. He could then also learn new things
from other People.
So he wandered. Up Hills and through Swamps and down Rivers. He met many of his
kin. One afternoon he spent in the Sun with Spider, watching for Flies. Another Day he waited
out the rain under a rock overhang with Porcupine. And yet, even though his Journey took him
far and he saw many wonders, he did not feel as though he was learning.
As this awareness came to him, he passed a large Willow growing on the bank of a
Stream. The smell from the Willow tickled his nose with a familiar scent, and his eyes caught
sight of the scat lying on one of the large fallen branches. Ah he said, my sister, Raccoon,
dwells here. She is wise. I will go to her and ask if she will help me to grow in awareness.
Fox went down to the Stream and caught a Crayfish to bring as an Offering to Raccoon.
Honored sister he said, This person before you is on his Journey of Discovery. He
comes from a far place and he has seen and experienced much between there and here. Yet he
feels that he has learned very little. He sits here humbly before you, Respectfully asking if you
will guide him in ways that will sate the hunger of one who has grown up outwardly, and yet is
starving inside.
This person would consider it an Honor to feed you said Raccoon, for you are my
Fox sat before Raccoon and held out his bowl. Raccoon proceeded to serve him from the
steaming pot of stew that sat before her. His bowl immediately overflowed; it would not take
even a portion of the first ladleful.
Raccoon dipped the ladle back into the stewpot and poured it into the Foxs bowl. Then
she served another. The scalding stew ran down the side of the bowl and covered Foxs hands.
It splashed up on his lap and formed a sloppy, growing puddle in front of him.
At first, out of Respect, Fox said nothing. After a few ladlesful, he grew so confused at
what was happening, and his hands hurt so, that he finally had to blurt something out.
Raccoon, This person is grateful for your desire to serve him, but it seems his bowl is
full. It will hold no more. What you give him spills out on the ground. He Respectfully asks:
Why do you keep serving him ?
So that you will know that you came to me with a full bowl replied Raccoon. I have
nothing for you until you fast and know true hunger. You walk through life full of yourself.
Many of your kin whom youve met on your Journey would have fed you, had you room in your
bowl. You came finally to me only because you did not have the hunger to recognize the
brimming pot of food that sat before each of them.
Now go, my Honored Brother, and fast, until you feel as a Leaf in the Wind. Release
yourself, until you are ready to be swayed by the Branch, washed by the Rain, and chewed upon
by the Caterpillar. Then you will be as one with your sister Leaves and know the source of the
sap that sustains you. Come then back to me, and I will again serve you.
At this point you may be asking OK, if Civilized community is out of Balance, how can
we reconnect with our Indigenous Lifeway?
The beauty is that we dont have to relearn the Lifeway we already know it! It is alive
and well in each of us, imprinted in our Ancestral Memories. Every cell in our bodies screams to
Walk the Old Way. If we allow it, and it will spring forth spontaneously from us. Like Fox, all
we need to do is unload some of the constructs that fill our bowl, and we will hear both our voice
and the voices of all Life, guiding us!

When a Native seeks guidance, she doesnt turn to some philosophy, or to a leader, or to a
book. She goes to her community. I did that yesterday, when I was looking for some way to
convey to you the spirit of Native community in words. I went out into the Wilderness to spend
some time with a family of Deer...
They moved throughout their territory, as freely and whimsically as the Wind through the
Tree branches. They wandered where their curiosity and hunger and fear took them. When they
grew tired, they set up an encampment for the Night, them woke up in the morning to wander
again. Just like the Wind. Their community was Grass and Snow, Chickadee and Coyote. It is
they who Deer walked and ate with, who Deer guided and were guided by.
Deer appeared to own nothing and embrace no philosophy. Their only belief seemed to
be in the moment. When they left their encampment, their bed was slept in by other members of
their community, perhaps Rabbit, then perhaps Maple Seed looking for a place to sprout.
Throughout the morning, Deer echoed what the Elders had taught me about Native
community, and what has been reawakened in me by living it. When I came back to weave these
words for you, they flowed as freely as did Deer and me through the realm of their community.
Our community.
Alright,you say, if we have this guidance all around us, and even within us, why cant
we just do it?
That is our next dilemma as Civilized beings first we think, then we assume we have
something to do. We dont have to do anything. It will spring spontaneously forth, like a
Rainbow after a Storm. We just have to get out of the way. And then float with it, like Cattail
fluff on the Wind. Its that easy. And that hard. The Storm the woundedness from a lifetime
of imbalance, that keeps us bound in old reactionary-protective patterns must be faced and
allowed to have its blow before the Rainbow can reappear.
Native communities honor the individual, Civilized communities honor structure.
Structure comes in all styles and colors. It might be religious or political, pragmatic or visionary.
No matter how justified, beautiful or alternative, it is still structure. Structure is pyramidal, with
the architect or enforcer at the pinnacle and the masses contained inside, under him. Being
vertical, pyramids disconnect us from The Mother and The Father. They literally and figuratively
remove our feet from the Earth.
Probably all Human constructs are pyramids. Less probably, they are all the way of the
ego and the rational mind.
The way of the individual is the way of the Circle. In the Circle, everybodys feet are
naturally grounded. It is that simple. Yet for some it is too deceptively simple. We who have
been conditioned for so long to grasp with our frontal lobes, have trouble grasping with our
Heart-of-Hearts. So the Circle Way eludes all but those who can open, listen, and accept.
A few of us will try to clone some of the Circle Way to the pyramid, thinking we might
then be able to have the best of both worlds. They do not wed well. In fact, the two lifeways
are so diametrically opposed that one would have better luck pairing up a Goat with a Fish.
If it were only that they had different belief systems or organizational structures, we could
simply replace one system with another, such as when someone converts from Christianity to
Buddhism. We would then not have to empty our bowls, because we are merely giving our stew
a makeover by adding some different spice.
The problem with this scenario is that a Native has no beliefs or structures no stew
so he has nothing to respice. As is common with natural life, he keeps a good amount of room in

his bowl, so that he will approach life as a question, continually searching, ever curious and
That is why, when a Native is asked (or forced) to fill his bowl with the constructs
of the Civilized Way, he has only one thing to offer in exchange his Mother. In effect, he is
being asked to rape his Mother, pillage his People, shame his Ancestors, and sell his unborn kin
into slavery. No, the two Ways do not mix well.
And yet there is Beauty in this scenario, because the reverse is also true: when a Civilized
Person empties her bowl, she has only one thing to receive in exchange her Mother. She will
spontaneously become a Guardian of her Mother, provide for her Kin, Honor her Ancestors, and
ransom the unborn.

Dwelling in the Circle: The Native Lodge

The residents of those early Civilized communities developed two shelter concepts which
had not previously existed: the House and the Home.
They evolved a House a shelter that is so inclusive of Civilized Lifeway that someone
could (and many do) live their entire lives within its confines. Houses have specialized rooms
which, as evidenced by their names, cover virtually all aspects of life: food preparation kitchen,
food consumption dining room , lounging living room, bathing and elimination bathroom,
clothes washing laundry room, recreation den, sleeping bedroom, storage closet-atticbasement..., craft area office-workshop, and so on. The House is a complete environment
energy needs are conveyed to the House, waste is removed from the House, and virtually all other
needs can be ordered and conveniently delivered to the doorstep.
From the concept of the all-inclusive House rose the concept of Home. In the same way
that House life replaced life on the Giving Mothers Bosom, the sense of House-based
community, i.e., Home, replaced the community of Relations. The constructed communities,
with their artificial support systems, could not engender a feeling of community. The
fabricated/forced cooperation and isolated Households of such communities actually encouraged
the opposite feelings of isolation and mistrust. Being social creatures, the inhabitants yearned
for living community. They found it in the one place where they still found love and trust
their Houses. They called their newfound community Home.
As with the greater community of old, Home became the center of life. The cultural ideal
became for each family to have its own Home, its own community base. It ran a parallel with the
ancestral Clans each having their own Homelands. The family Home became the family center.
It was passed down from generation to generation, and those who left Home would come back
for family gatherings, akin to the Clan gatherings of old. Home is where the heart is, sums up
the nostalgic attachment to the House where People were raised, and perhaps where their Parents
were raised, or the where they, as Children, went to visit Grandma and Grandpa..
A House can be bought and sold; the passing of a Home is a mournful event in the history
of a family. The family goes through the same grieving process as do Natives who must leave
their Homeland. With the Home goes a familys connection with its past memories of
weddings and funerals, family reunions, aunts and uncles and cousins. The familiar smells of
kitchen and pantry and basement are forever gone, along with garden, flower beds and fruit trees.
The traditional family foods will not be the same outside the Home context, nor will the old
family furniture.
This Home that resides within the House involves two concepts so inextricably

intertwined, that when a House is lost that is also the extended family Home, the sense of Homecommunity is often irreparably damaged. This sense of loss is reflected in an old bluegrass song
that I heard years ago, that went something like this: What became of the old home place; why
did they tear it down? And why did they leave the plow in the field, to look for a job in the
The living needs of Natives are for the most part fulfilled outdoors, in the context of their
Greater Circle. Natives literally live outdoors, taking cover only when they must. This gives
them a relationship with their shelters that is only peripherally related to the relationship
Civilized People have with their Houses.
Shelter for a Native is usually as minimal as climate and season will allow. If shelter is
not needed, there is none. If the Tree canopy or an overhanging Rock is adequate, no additional
shelter will likely be constructed. At times necessary shelter comprises no more than a
windbreak or a brush arbor to protect from Suns intensity. At most, shelter is a small, one-room
dwelling, perhaps insulated during seasons of extreme heat or cold. As soon as the weather
moderates, Natives forsake their Lodges and are again outdoors.
In the area where I live, the White Season brings thigh-deep Snows and Nighttime
temperatures so cold that the Trees will sometimes crack so loudly that they wake us from our
sleep. The thunder from the Lakes rapidly freezing and heaving ice can be heard mile and more
away. Yet our White Season Lodges are used just for sleeping. We spend our Days outdoors,
including cooking and eating. An open lean-to with a reflector Fire provides quite adequate
shelter and comfort.
Lodges are usually considered to be temporary, movable structures. They are most often
of simple design, so go up quickly, and are just as easily dismantled and moved. Natives will
readily relocate, as changes in weather, food sources, or other circumstances, dictate. Yet they
would not describe themselves as nomadic. In the same way that Civilized People might adjust
their Household usage by having meals in the sunroom rather than the porch as the weather gets
colder, Natives will move their Lodges. They are still living under the same Sky roof, Earth is
still their living room, so they have not moved to a new residence. They have only changed
where they sleep., movable
When needed, the Lodge can serve all the roles of the Civilized House. The Lodge
functions as bedroom, living room, work and storage area all rolled into one. In Civilized
Houses, the bedroom is slept in, then the door is closed and the room is left for the rest of the
Day. The same with the kitchen, which is used for meal preparation, then left until the next
meal. And so on with the rest of the rooms.
As covered previously, a considerable House is needed in order to accommodate an
indoor lifestyle. This creates a huge investiture in the House! Because of this, People become
virtually indentured to their Houses long-term mortgages, insurance, taxes, cleaning, upkeep,
utility expenses, and so on. This translates to long-term jobs, consumed free time, and often
chronic anxiety a major investiture of vital energy.
The paradox is that all this is for space that is most of the time vacant!
Imagine if you were free of all that and your House played no more than a background
role in your life... How pleasant might life be, and what good things could be done with all that
freed time and energy! That should give you a feel for the minor, often background, role that
shelter plays in Native Peoples lives. And for one of the major reasons that Natives can afford
to be themselves.

What makes this minimalist approach to shelter possible is a concept I call multiple
usage of space. That simply means that the same area, the same room, is used throughout the
Day for the succession of activities that comprise indoor life.
For example, after awakening, bedrolls will be rolled up against the wall to open up the
floor space for meal preparation. After the meal, the area might be used for craftwork, or as a
play area. In the evening the Lodge may host a social gathering. The average family Lodge,
which might be two body lengths (12 feet) in diameter, can quite handily accommodate a dozen
or so People. They will sit in a circle around the perimeter of the Lodge, which leaves the area
in the center open for Children, meal preparation, or whatever else might be going on.
This way of using space requires that living accouterments each have their allotted place
and are returned to that place immediately after being used. (Because there are usually no
counters, tables, or other furniture, what is left out will be on the floor and almost definitely in
the way.) This keeps the floor free and open at all times for whatever usage the moment dictates
the key to multiple usage of space.
Another reason for the large Houses of the Civilized is the sheer amount of stuff that
needs to be sheltered. Natives need little space for storage because there is little they need.
Wardrobes and cosmetics mean little to naked People of natural beauty. When The Mother
provides and there is no illusion that you need to wrest a living by toil, its surprising how few
possessions are actually needed. Or desired. They share belongings and keep only what is
necessary and functional.
Native People can comfortably live in shared open space because, like the rest of natural
life, they have no shame around their bodies and natural body functions. (This is one of the first
things they are corrected on when they come in contact with Civilized People.)
A few Civilized cultures, particularly in the Far East, have retained the concept of
multiple usage of space. Their Houses, even though they might be made of contemporary
materials and located in urban areas, are usually small and contain few rooms. Bedrolls are still
commonly used, so sleeping areas are available for Daytime use.
The Native awareness that there is no real distinction between the spiritual and material
realms is reflected in the design of their Lodges. The door, for example, usually faces East, so
that the first rays of the Sun Father will enter the Lodge and fall upon the Hearth in the center of
the floor. This is in recognition and Honor of the Sun Fathers gift of Fire.
This touching of Fire to Fire is also the meeting of Father and Son. The Fathers Flame
is captured in the Trees, which are the offspring of His mated union with The Earth Mother.
Our gift from Them is the ability to undo that union and release the Flame from their Tree
Children. In the undoing, we return Earth Mother's Ash-flesh to Her, and Sun Father's Firespirit to Him.
East, being the source of first light, is the symbolic direction of enlightenment. We look
to the East for inspiration, new ideas and fresh starts. East gifts us with the energy for cleansing.
When we Walk the Path of Life (which my Ojibwa Elders call the Giizis Mikana, or Sun Trail)
we begin in the East with our Birth and travel West to our Death.
Not coincidentally, the East side of the Lodge is the most practical place to have a door.
The first touch of Sun erases the Night chill and brings the first welcome light of the Day. In
most areas, the East side of the Lodge is sheltered from storms.
Most Native Lodges are circular, which, as with door placement, is both functional and
symbolic. The circular shape gives the most usable space for the least amount of materials. It is
the strongest shape and usually the easiest to construct. And it is the and the easiest to heat,

especially with an open Fire.

The form of the Lodge is symbolic of the Circle Way. The Hoop of Life and the Four
Directions make up its walls just as much as does the bark and thatch...
The West side of the Lodge, the end of the Giizis Mikana, is usually considered the most
Honored place. It is where the Elders reside. From that vantage point, they can keep perspective
on all that goes on both inside and outside the Lodge. Sitting directly opposite the door, they are
the first to be seen and greeted by visitors. Being farthest from the door, they have the warmest
place in the Lodge.
Lodge guests are often given the Place of Honor beside the Elders.
Women abide in the South of the Lodge. It is the bright, midday place of the Circle. It is
the realm of the Green Season, the time of lushness, warmth and nourishment, the time of
fruiting the natural place for Women to dwell.
Opposite Women is the coldest place in the Lodge; there reside the Men. Male energy is
often heat-generating and far-reaching. There in the North, as the Turn of the Seasons comes
upon the time of dormancy, the energy is conducive to a slower, more reflective way of being.
This atmosphere helps Men balance out their heat, so they can immerse themselves in the
contemplation that fosters new inspirations. Then, as the Circle turns Sunwise, from North to
East, these fresh ideas are ready to be born to the new Day.
Beside the door is the place of Children. Being the new light of their lineage, they are the
first to be touched by the new light of Day. As with all Children, they are in and out countless
times in a Day. With their place being next to the door, they cause little disturbance to the rest of
the Lodge. They can also handily do errands such as fetching Wood and Water.
Home is Hearth; the way Home is the center of Civilized life, Hearth is the center of
Native life. Youll remember that the Native Lodge is a secondary, sometimes dispensable,
accouterment of Native lifeway. Not so with Hearth. If anything is the defining factor of the
Lifeway, and perhaps of Humankind itself, it is the Hearth.
In order to gain a feel for the profound role of Hearth in the Human experience, we need
to reawaken our relationship with Fire. I believe that we Humans distinguished ourselves as a
species not when we began to use tools, because other animals use tools as well. And not when
we began to speak, because other animals also have language. And not because of the evolution
of our intellect, because other animals are intelligent in their specialized ways. It is perhaps our
relationship with Fire that truly distinguishes us from our Relations. When we embraced Fire,
we became Human.
Please read that last sentence again, slowly. In order to know the Circle Way, in order to
feel it deep in your bones, you need to know the spirit of those words. Because that spirit is your
spirit. Disconnection with that spirit is probably what drew you to read this book. The next
couple paragraphs could open the doorway to a whole new awareness of self. And of your
relationship with Life.
The young of other animals are fearful of Fire. They are repelled by it. Our young are
drawn to Fire; they are fascinated by it. Clearly there must be something that lies deep in the
Human soul that would cause this seemingly unnatural, yet universal, behavior, in those who are
the tenderest of age.
Our distant Ancestors relationship with Fire brought them to the Human frontier. Fire
gave them the ability to inhabit vast new regions, to expand their diets and preserve food, and to
make new tools. In this day, Fire has again brought us to the Human frontier. Fire is enabling us

to inhabit vast new regions with layer upon layer of Humanity. Fire has forged us new tools
the machinery, weaponry, and energy sources that now distinguish us unquestionably from the
rest of life.
This Fire, which is so wedded to the Fire of our souls, the Fire of our minds, the Fire in
our eyes, is the wellspring of our life as a species. It is the passion of the Human experience it
is our Spirit Fire.
Now let us bring the Spirit Fire back to its place in the Native heart the Hearth. It is
no coincidence that heart and Hearth come from the same root word. The saying, Home is
where the heart is could, to a Native, just as well read Home is where the Hearth is. It captures
the Native experience of belonging the same feeling found in the Civilized Home. This is
because there is no essential difference between heart and Hearth the primordial warmth of
heart and warmth of Hearth are the same. We all know this on a gut level, and we express it
when we refer to a heart on Fire or the Flame of passion.
It is from the Hearth that Women, Children and Men venture, and it is to the Hearth that
they return. The Hearth gives food to ease hunger, light to soften the dark, comfort to gentle the
cold. The Hearth deters predators, makes possible all manner of craft, and shortens long
Northcountry Nights. It is the center of social life, it is the core of ritual. Visitors often Honor
the Hearth with an Offering, and are seated in the Place of Honor before the Hearth. It took only
the addition of the Hearth for us to become Human. And it would take only the removal of the
Hearth for us to become another animal.
The Hearth is the center, the heart, of a Native Lodge. The Lodge is built around the
Hearth, rather than the Hearth being added to the Lodge. The Lodge is designed so that the
Circle Way of Life around the Hearth can be continued indoors, just as it was outdoors.
The Clan Fire is the Home of a Native person. Sitting around the Fire brings forth the
stories of the Old Ones, the memories of youth, the recounting of adventures had, and the visions
of times to come. The draw of the Clan Fire is the same as that which lures the Civilized person
back to the old Home place.
When The Native is away, she longs to return to the Clan Fire. No matter where it has
been moved, she will follow her Hearth. For wherever the Clan Fire abides, so abides her heart.
Property is Theft
Knowing a Native persons relationship with her Lodge, you already have some
awareness of her feelings toward what the Civilized call personal property.
To give you better feel for that, imagine you are moving to a new location. Its not such
a big ordeal, because you can pack all your belongings on your back. You dont try to sell your
House, you just abandon it. Or pass it on to someone else who could use it. If, when you arrive
at your new location, there is a vacant House, you just move right in, no questions asked. If the
previous occupant left anything behind that you can use, or even if a neighbor has something that
is not being used, it becomes yours for as long as you have a need for it. If you are hungry and
unable to provide for yourself or your family, you can even count on food being given you.
Does this sound utopian, unrealistic? If you were a Native person, it would be your way
of life. It is the way of virtually all Native People. In fact, it is the way of all of the Natural
Realm. Badger moves into the abandoned den of Woodchuck. Jumping Mouse takes over
Robins nest. Hungry Fox feasts on the Seal that Polar Bear hunted. It is only we Civilized
Humans who subscribe to the concept of private property.

Natives are accustomed to providing for their needs, and no more. There is no demand
or incentive for over-production. In fact, the keeping of surplus if some Native were ever to
come up with such a silly notion would be discourage by his community. In a Native living
situation, surplus gives so little benefit, and adds such a burden in terms of storage and protection
needs, that whoever finds himself with a glut, usually gets rid of it in short order. He will share it
with others, either informally or through traditional means such as a Giveaway, or he will return
it to The Mother.
In this way he gains what is true wealth to a Native the Respect and esteem of his
peers. Now that he is relieved of the burden of false wealth, he again has the time and energy to
partake in the genuine richness of Native Lifeway. This richness is qualitative, and it is the basis
of personal wealth. These riches ones level of personal skill and Circle awareness and
spiritual attunement are what nearly all of us are envious of, and what nearly everyone who
accumulates private property wishes they had time for.
Gego gegoo gimmodiken can be literally translated as Dont steal anything. This
guidance from my Elders is not as simple as it sounds, because the translation does not convey
the meaning. As with much of the Native Way, cultural context is everything. When a Native
hears Gego gegoo gimmodiken, this is what it means to her: You do not have to steal in order to
be a thief. In fact, the source of your possession or how it came to be in your hands, has little to
do with whether or not you have stolen. You merely have to claim it as your own, and you have
stolen. Property itself is theft.
Usership is more accurate than ownership to describe a Natives relationship with
material goods. An item, whether it be a tool, a piece of clothing, or even a residence, is a
persons to use as long as he or she has a use for it. There is no absentee ownership, there are no
landlords. Need rather than possession determines ones right to usership.
In the Circle Way, to hold on to unneeded surplus or items which others could be using, is
not only theft, it is suicide. Possessiveness and hoarding may at first seem to favor the
individual, but in the Natural Realm, the Circle comes round. When someone in your Circle
suffers, sooner or later, you suffer.
As with virtually all of the Circle Way, this way of Honoring the greater need is not based
on any ideal or philosophy. It is simply what works. A flock of Cedar Waxwings survives Hawk
because the Waxwings live together as though they were one. They cooperate in finding food
and shelter and warning each other of danger. The flock is strong because it helps each
individual to be strong. When each member is strong, they can flee rapidly from Hawk, all in
the same instant, which confuses her and allows them to escape.
If certain individuals were to monopolize the food and prime roosting spots, they would
grow strong while their flockmates grew weak. Hawk could then shrink the flock by capturing
the slower birds. Then the few remaining strong ones would become vulnerable, because there
were no longer many eyes to take turns watching for Hawk, and no longer was there a
synchronized flock to confuse Hawk.
Giving is receiving.
The Aboriginal Play Ethic
Several years ago a Woman-friend asked when I was going to retire. It was one of those
rare moments when I was at a loss for words I simply could not relate to her question.
Thankfully, she responded to my blank look by rephrasing her question to When are you not

going to be so busy? and Dont you ever take a vacation? Now that I could respond to!
Take a vacation from my vacation? I quipped. My mother tells me Im always on
vacation; according to her, I havent yet gotten serious about life! But seriously, I suppose I
could take a vacation; it just never occurred to me. Im already living in Paradise, and Im
already living my passion; I guess I dont have any reason or motivation to go somewhere else to
look for that.
I took a vacation 25 years ago, and I never went back. I havent held a regular job
since; does that mean Im retired? Ive been doing what I enjoy, something most People wait for
retirement to do; maybe thats further evidence that Im retired.
Im following my Heartsong, fulfilling my reason for being; why would I choose to slow
down? For me its not work, Im at play. I cant imagine doing anything other than what I enjoy;
naturally I would wish to continue in my Bliss until my last breath. To me, retirement would
mean Death.
You could take me to the Bahamas, or Tibet, and I would do the same thing as I am now.
Im already living in the Bahamas; this is Paradise! To me, this is Tibet; there is tremendous
spiritual energy here!
She said nothing, but I read the sadness in her eyes. She would like to have had me
accompany her on vacation. She went without me in search of that faraway place where she
could play. And as far as I know, she is still working for the faraway day on which she can retire.
Work is an invention of the Civilized mind. Work began with agriculture no longer
could People just gather food. Urbanization further isolated People from the means and ends of
their existence now they had to go to work. To support the hierarchical structure that ran the
urban-agricultural construct, surplus needed to be produced. More work. Lives became
disjointed, time became fragmented.
Life was no longer play. Life was work; play became an optional pursuit. Belief systems
evolved to instill the work ethnic, sanctions evolved to maintain it. Play became the counterpoint
of work a reward for completed work, a vent from the stress of work.
When I craft a bow, it is a fulfilling endeavor: I have a personal reason for doing it, I have
specially gathered the materials, and I have a long-term relationship with the bow to look forward
to. If I had to make bows all Day, every Day, it would become monotonous and disconnected
from my real life i.e., it would become work. The same is true with helping others, such as
when I counsel, teach, or help with healings. Normally these involvements leave me feeling
personally fulfilled, but if I had to do them according to schedule, full-time, they would become
tedious. Again, work.
A Native person can be brought to understand the concept of work, but she was still lack
the motivation to work. She has no need to produce surplus to support the pyra-metro-agri-cult.
She has no need to pay for play. She has no need for money to help her bridge the chasm
between Hearth and Earth.
I know Native People who are the seventh generation under the yoke of Civilization and
still do not grasp the work ethic. They may work until they have enough money for what they
want, then quit. To them, work is for reason, and they see no reason to work any longer than to
obtain what they went to work for.
The way they approach work still Honors the moment a cardinal precept of the Old
Way. They may arrive at the job site early or late, depending upon how they feel and what is
going on in their lives. If Fish are spawning or Wild Rice is ready to harvest, they may not show

up at all. Why work to buy Fish and Rice if The Mother just gives them to you? After all, is
work not a part of life, rather than life itself?
This disconnecting of the means from the ends of their existence, for no obvious reason,
confuses them. And yet, over all the generations since their first exposure to the idea, it still
humors them! It reminds them of the humorous childhood stories they heard from the Elders,
about foolish animals who go on working and forget why.
Natives the World over are (usually unsympathetically) labeled by their Civilized selfappointed overlords as lazy, irresponsible or unmotivated. Because Natives seldom rush to lay
down their holistic way of living, exploitative individuals are often quick to label (what they see
as) their potential workforce, as stubborn, belligerent, and even revolutionary. Being subjected
to judgment only, is best case scenario; often enough these Natives are also persecuted and
enslaved. The justification is typically some variation of Its for your own good. What the
Natives hear them saying is Its for my good.
Where did this play ethic come from, that appears to be so threatening to the work ethic
that it cannot be allowed? No matter where an Aboriginal People dwell, whether it be Tundra,
Desert, or Tropics, it takes them only about two hours a Day to meet their material needs.
Because their needs are gained in ways which are direct, purposeful, and low-tech, they are
personally fulfilling and meaningfully connected. With no work hangover to deal with, and
with nearly unlimited time for the qualitative aspects of life adventure, discourse, family,
ritual, games the scenario does not look good for Natives to willingly adopt a work ethic.
This inability to grasp the reason for work is part of why Native People ever dwell in
communion with the Circle of Life. And it is why many Natives under the influence of
Civilization can for so long resist tarnish.
All this is not to say that Aboriginal People will not put extraordinary effort into
something of significance to their lives. On numerous occasions Ive witnessed them performing
tremendous feats, such as spearing Fish all through a wet snowy Night when its their only
chance to get their years supply, or going for Days on end without food or sleep to help perform
a Healing or Vision-seeking ritual.
Perhaps they have such seemingly superhuman vigor because their low-stress, nonmaterialistic lifestyle leaves them with copious reserves of energy and spirit to draw upon. They
see it is nothing extraordinary; it is just what one does.
The Civilized person works, then engages in cultural pursuits as a form of after-work
play. The Native person lives culture; everything he does is a cultural pursuit. Even subsistence
activities such as gathering Wood and picking Berries are shared, ritual endeavors filled with
meaning and self satisfaction.
And fun! For those who live the Old Way, life is a party. They know intrinsically that
they are here to have fun. There is no later, after work or next weekend. Life is now.
Virtually everything is done in an enjoyable way. Even ceremony is fun.
Because fun is not an intrinsic part of Civilized life, a Civilized person attempts to create
fun as a cultural pursuit. Hell go skiing or out for a walk in the Woods. He calls it recreation,
and he couldnt be more right-on he is attempting to re-create what already exists.
Unbeknownst to him, he could be having fun right now, as an intrinsic, spontaneous and
continual part of his life. It is his birthright, the way he has evolved to function. If only he
The Native person is continually recreating not only because she lives in the Natural

Realm, but because she is the Natural Realm. Snowshoeing, canoeing, gathering herbs, and other
such communings with The Mother are not a part of her everyday activities, they are her
everyday activities. So going out in Nature to partake in them, as does a Civilized person,
wouldnt make sense to her. Nature is all there is, its all she knows, so theres nothing to go out
to or come back from.
Nor would she have the inclination to go snowshoeing or canoeing in the way that most
Civilized People do as ventures detached from the other activities of life. Snowshoeing and
canoeing are already an intrinsic part of her life, similar to the way a hoe fits into the life of a
farmer. Although a farmer may enjoy tending his plants, in his free time he probably wont call
his friends and say, Lets go out hoeing!
In like manner, the Civilized Way is to separate art from function, music from work, and
religion from life. To a Native, there is no distinction between art and craft. Functional objects
are aesthetically pleasing and expressive because they are artistically rendered. The Native has
had no reason to develop the concept of art as a distinct entity, so art for the sake of art is rare.
Nor does the Native conceive of religion, or of a time or place to practice religion. Life is her
prayer, and she dwells continually in her chapel.
Native People can burst into song at any time of the Day or Night because, like art and
religion, song is an integral part of life. Song helps keep labor from being work. It gives rhythm
to movement and draws individuals into communion with their comrades. For example, my
revered Elder, Keewaydinoquay, gave me this verse that was once chanted by her Ancestors
when traveling the Great Lakes:
Zhimaan akagaan akiigo
Paddle your canoe close to shore
Zhimaan akagaan anooden
Paddle your canoe out of the wind
Whew, it takes work to write about play! Writing this book is a good example of what
Native People dont do. Besides the work, they have no need for these words, because they are a
statement of the obvious. Yet I gladly weave this text, because it is my Bliss. And, more
importantly, because it will help you to know it also as a statement of the obvious.


Chapter Seven
A Snapshot of the Old Way
Now for some fun with a serious overtone, of course!
Many of you are no doubt familiar with the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People. The following table plays with this idea, highlighting the (more or less) seven habits of
Highly Indigenous People. The habits have been simplified for effect.
The second table loosely contrasts Native and Civilized Lifeways. It is important to bear
in mind that the dichotomous nature of this comparison is a somewhat artificial construct. I do it
here in order to amplify certain important features of lifeway. There is an inherent risk in any
comparison, because it can be used as a basis for judgment. I respectfully caution you to
remember that we are kin with all of Humankind, and that what we consider Civilized is no more
than a manifestation of the inherent Human capacity to drift into imbalance
Seven Habits of Highly Indigenous People
(Well, maybe a few more than that...)
* Addicted to the Outdoors
* Allergic to land ownership
* Commonly die off when exposed to Civilization
* Obsessive homeschoolers
* Chronic Respect for Elders
* Incorrigible non-materialist attitude
* Underdeveloped PWE (Protestant Work Ethic)
* Delusion that life is fun
* Naive tendency toward trust
* Seldom seen wearing watches
* Favor birthday suits over business suits
* Home-based business bias; no commuters of record
* Shamelessly eat meat
* Insist theyve never heard of junk food


Civilization and the Native Way

A Raw Comparison


Change the World to suit themselves

Adapt themselves to the World as it


Ever discontent with their present situation

and dedicate their entire lives to changing it

Ever thankful for the Beauty and Bounty in

which they find themselves

Dwell in the errors of the past and the hope

of the future

Bask in the fullness of the moment.

Become the center of their Circle

Become one with their Circle

Grovel and beg as they contritely pray

Pridefully chant in praise and wonderment

Have psychologists to help them adjust to

their unreasonable lives

Live in Balance with the Greater Reason

Have religion

Live spiritually

Talk a lot

Listen and learn

Admire each other for what they are

Admire each other for who they are

Meet Death lying in bed, expending every

effort to extend life

Greet the Passing Over upright, if possible,

with their Song of Passing on their lips


The Diet We Were Made For

(rough draft)
Wagosh (Fox) enjoyed getting up before first light and walking quietly along the Deer trails to
watch all of the morning life awakening. He would go past the pond of Amiik (Beaver) to see her
swimming back from his nights activities working on her dam now ready to nap for the day. He would
watch Osprey catching the first light Atop the big Pine in the bog as she stretched her wings before
gliding off to catch a fish for breakfast for her young. In the clearing Wawazkeshi (Deer) and her two
fast growing fawns were browsing contentedly before their morning nap so he very quietly slipped by so
as not disturb them. And at the lakeshore hed see Fish rising from below to slurp insects off the
surface of the water, and Dragonflies, warmed and energized by the rising Sun, snatching insects from
This particular morning he was hungry. He was up in the chill of the predawn and had already
hiked quite a distance so he had worked up a good breakfast appetite. As he was thinking about this
he saw some Zhiishiibag (Ducks) swimming around a ways out on the lake, and he thought Boy would
one of them taste good right now! Unfortunately, they were out there and he was on the beach, and
they were quite wary besides. They kept their distance. So, he thought.I must come up with a way
to entice them in closer so that I may grab one of them
So he came up with a plan. He built a lodge on the beach, started Fire, and sat down to drum
and sing songs. He knew he would need some special songs to entice the wary Zhiishiibag so he
chanted some new ones that he had just learned on his recent travels south. And they worked. The
Zhiishiibag began swimming with the rhythm of the Drum and couldnt help but join in the chant.
Hypnotized by the rhythm they came in closer and closer. But they would only come in so close.
Wagosh knew that if he was going to eat he would somehow have to gain the trust of the
Zhiishiibag so that they would come in even closer.
Nakana (My Relations), he said soothingly I am not here to harm you, I am here to Dance
and Chant and I believe that I am doing it along. I wish that you, My Brothers, would come to join me
so that together we could Dance around the Fire and join our voices in the Chant.
Wagosh, knowing the deceptive ways of the stalker, sounded sincere enough that the
Zhiishiibag looked at each other and actually considered his invitation. Not wanting to look overly
enthusiastic for them to join him, Wagosh went back to drumming. Before long, out of the corner of
his eye, Wagosh saw a couple of the Zhiishiibag carefully venturing up on the beach. When the others
saw it was safe they followed. And before long they were all dancing in rapture in a circle with Wagosh
around the fire.
By this time it was getting late in the day. Shadows were setting in over the beach, and the
cool damp wind was blowing over the lake. Wagosh knew now was the time and he was growing very
hungry besides. So he said to the Zhiishiibag Brothers, you honor me by joining me in the Dance, and
you are good singers, the best I have had the privilege to join with in a long time. I would like to play
an honor song for you. I have saved a special song which I have brought back from the south, but my
fingers grow numb in this cold and my voice would honor you better if it did not have to compete with
the Wind. So I ask if you will join me in my lodge. I already have a warm fire going in there with a
thick stew simmering upon it.

But I must ask one thing of youthat you be blindfolded. When I learned this Chant I was
told that its power would be broken it any of the danced were to look upon the person playing the
Zhiishiibag now had no reason to doubt Wagosh so they allow him to blindfold him as they
entered the lodge.
As Wagosh began the Chant the Zhiishiibag realized it was truly one of power and danced with
abandon. Like most of the rest of Wagoshs statements the one about the thick stew over the Fire was
not true either. But it was getting thick, one by one, as each Zhiishiib (single Duck) danced by him he
would grab the Zhiishiib, wring his neck and throw him in the stewpot. The Chanting began to grow
weak and one of the Zhiishiibag said What is happening?
Wagosh replied soothingly Do not worry. Keep on dancing. It is only that some of your
Brothers voices grow hoarse.
This contented them, with the exception of the last Zhiishiib in line, as he no longer heard
anyone behind him. He pulled up his blindfold, only to see that half of his Brothers were missing, and
Wagosh was wringing the neck of another.
He screamed Pull off your blindfolds and run, Wagosh has deceived us!
They scrambled for the door of the lodge, tipping over the stewpot and kicking the fire coals
Wagosh burst into a rage! He was hungry and wanted all of the Zhiishiibag and half of them
were escaping! He picked up a hot coal and threw it at them, hitting one of them in the eyes. That
Zhiishiib, who we now know as Mahng (Loon), has red eyes to this day because of it. Then he threw a
chunk of firewood at them as they scrambled down the beach towards the Water and he hit one of
them squarely in the back. Yet she made it to the Water, but she was so injured that she could never
walk well on land again. So she spends all of her time in the Water, having to eat the starchy roots of
Water plants.
From now on you shall be known as Hell-Diver! Wagosh shouted after him.
And so it is that to this day we call him Hell-Diver.
This is the worst insult that Wagosh could have heaped upon Zhiishiib, as Hell to a
Native person is having to live the rest of her days eating starch. The story is allegorical as to
how that happened to us how we were lured from our natural diet by the hope that starch
would provide its plentiful food and easy living. Only, like broken Zhiishiib, we found that when
we dove into the pot of endless starch we became broken Humans. The boiling black cauldron
trapped us in our self-made Hell of disease, obesity and lethargy.
Following is another story, beginning with my own, about how we can return to the
foods we ate when we were free upon the water the foods that give us health and freedom.
My knees felt like rubber, my thigh and calf muscles would not respond. They acted as though
they were numbed asleep even though I felt no tingling, no pain. Tears of frustration trickled as I stood
barely stood immobilized in the middle of the store aisle.
Only three days til Christmas and I had not yet chosen nor made a single gift nor sent one card
or letter. Though only in my 20's, I felt old. My body dragged behind my spirit. I had no emotional

reserve. Bewilderment gnawed at me just as much as frustration, because I had no clue as to why. My
vital signs were normal, I was a responsible vegetarian making sure I was meeting my nutritional needs,
and I was leading a relatively stress-free and healthful life in the Northwoods.
Fortunately, I was with a friend who took care of me that day. A couple of weeks later she
made an appointment for me with a health food store healer who some of my friends considered to be
too fringy to be taken seriously. With the aid of a pendulum and other techniques that would send
chills up an AMA doctors spine, he determined that my vital energy was depleted and that I needed to
radically alter my diet in order to heal.
Though understanding little of his approach, I had nothing to lose in following his
recommendations. At any other time I would have respectfully sidestepped such counsel, as I was
convinced my diet was well-founded and meeting my nutritional needs. I started every day with granola
fortified with additional nuts and fruits, and topped with a generous serving of yogurt all organic.
Other meals were based on beans and rice, tofu and tempeh, with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits
and healthful garnishes such as brewers yeast and seaweed.
Yet my nutritional needs were apparently not being met. Each morning I awoke a little
hungrier than the last, to the point where I needed a small mixing bowl to hold all the granola I was
eating. I incorporated more healthful snacks and took supplements, yet I could not satiate myself. It
never occurred to me that there might be a problem with what I was eating; I just assumed that my
increased appetite was telling me I needed more of it.
This man was saying I actually needed much less of it. He had me drop everything except the
water and for weeks lie fallow and consume only certain green vegetables, along with meats which
were closest to the wild (such as that of Sheep and Goat). I rested completely and followed the diet
Under his guidance I slowly incorporated raw vegetables, then fruit and a few nuts. Over a sixmonth period I gradually improved, to the point where I felt not like my old self again but better than
that like a new person. Even before my crisis I would have periodic digestive disturbances acid
stomach and slowed digestion. That disappeared and has not returned.
He did not call it a Native or ancestral diet, because he was trained in a different discipline
with different terminologies. Yet, as I later recognized, his gift to me was my Native diet.
Imagine for a moment a relationship with food that springs from the organic hungers of
the body. There are no forbidden fruits, there is no philosophy to follow. You can eat when
you are hungry, until you feel full. The food is not hurtful to the Earth and is very beneficial to
your health. You will lose weight automatically and maintain your ideal weight. You will be
protected from degenerative diseases, food cravings will become but a memory, and you will
no longer need supplements. The components of this diet are readily available at your local
supermarket and natural foods store.
Sound like another slick commercial come-on or New Age panacea? Actually, its as old
and indigenous as we are as a species, that is. In its born-again form it is variously called
natural diet, Paleolithic diet, Native diet or ancestral diet. I prefer the latter term, as
it is self-descriptive. In sharing recent findings, researchers in the fields of human nutrition and

endocrinology, along with anthropologists and archaeologists, have been formulating what they
consider to be the ideal diet. They are concluding that it is the preagricultural diet that we as a
species evolved on, as it contains the foods that we are best suited to digest and least likely to
react to.
Many of us have already been seeking better health through conscious approach to diet
vegetarianism, macrobiotics, food combining, supplements, organic foods, and so forth. And
many of us feel better and have more energy because of it. Yet I know people who are not
fully satisfied with their approaches. They still have food cravings to deal with, along with
perhaps excess weight and/or chronic health problems. Some of my friends say they just plain
dont feel satisfied from what they are eating.
Our foraging ancestors, and all preagricultural peoples, consumed foods that were easy
to gather and edible in their raw state. They used little more technology than sharpened sticks
and stones to gather their food and processed it minimally, if at all. This allotted them diets
lush with vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and nuts. They consumed five to ten times more fiber
than do we, slightly more protein and fat (see Ancestral-Agricultural Diet Comparison Chart).
The fiber came in part from fruits and non-starchy vegetables, which made up a larger
portion of their diet than ours, and in part from the quality of their produce. Ours has been
hybridized to increase sugar and starch content, at the expense of fiber. They consumed better
quality protein as well more fish, leaner meat, and more nuts.
The dietary difference between them and us is based on the fact that our foodsources
changed dramatically when we became agriculturalists and herders. As our farm-fueled
population expanded we increasingly supplanted animal protein with plant-source protein, and
nourishing plant foods with starch. This shift was at the expense of fruits, vegetables, fish, and
nuts (curiously, these are what health authorities of most persuasions are now asking us to
consume more of!).
The most stark change was the astronomic increase in complex carbohydrate(starch)
consumption. Starch has become the backbone of our diet, whereas our ancestors consumed
very little. The starch available to them was primarily from tubers and the seeds of wild
grasses, both of which were seasonal, small, and fibrous, making them laborious to gather and
prepare. Sugar sources were similarly rare.
Their virtually starch-free diet is said to be a primary reason for their exemplary health.
They suffered virtually no obesity, diabetes or immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis,
tooth decay, osteoporosis, and appendicitis. We can live our entire lives healthily without
starch, but without fat we would become severely ill in a matter of weeks. We have but one
hormone (insulin) to control rises in blood sugar, which can spike rapidly due to fast-digesting
starch; we have four hormones to help raise blood sugar level, which remains traditionally low
when fed by slow-digesting fat. These factors indicate that we are designed to metabolize fat
more so than starch.
Conventional wisdom would have us cringe at the consideration of favoring fat and
snubbing starch our dietary sacred cow. Fear of obesity and cardiovascular disease would
loom like razor-edged rocks before a rubber raft. New findings by the above-listed specialists

actually indicate the opposite. Fat does not necessarily make fat. Because we metabolize fat
slowly and efficiently, we burn it quite completely. Starch breaks down rapidly, flooding the
system with calories. The bodys inability to burn them off as fast as they come triggers an
immune response, which the body deals with by dumping the excess as fat.
Fat quality, more so than quantity, affects cardiovascular health. The fats of fish and wild
animals help prevent heart disease, as they have a healthy ratio of fatty acids. Analyses of
Native diets indicate that the higher the consumption of these beneficial fats, the less the
incidence of many diseases. On the contrary, low-fat diets appear to cause long-term harm.
(For a more thorough discussion consult the further reading references listed below.)
Vegetable, seed and legume oils were not naturally occurring in our ancestral diet, so
we did not evolve the capacity to healthily assimilate them. Nut and fruit (olives and avocados
are fruits) oils are part of our food history, therefore genetically compatible with us and
Many of us are already familiar with and practicing elements of our ancestral diet with
food combining and macrobiotics (the underlying principle of which is to eat that which is
naturally and seasonally available in your area. However, as is indicative of our culture, we
import macrobiotic foods, thereby negating the principle). Atkins and Eades popular weight
reducing diets (see references) are based on the ancestral diet.
Because the ancestral diet is not based on any philosophy or set of principles, but
strictly upon what we are designed to eat, the recently evolved food crops upon which our
agricultural society are based are not included. Three of them grains, legumes, and dairy
which are major components of most of our present day diets, played negligible roles in our
ancestors nutrition. Grains and legumes (and most tubers) have toxic properties to protect
them from being eaten, which is why they were little consumed by our ancestors. Thus we do
not have the inherent ability to properly digest them. Not coincidentally, corn, wheat, legumes
(which include soy and peanuts) and milk are our most common food allergens.
Forty percent of our adult population exhibits some allergic response to dairy. Legumes
give most of us at least minor digestive disturbance, and some legumes are rendered digestible
only through processing. Wheat and corn allergies are common. Many more of us, while not
diagnosed as allergic to these foods, still suffer. We might choose to tolerate the health
problems we incur over these foods rather than give them up. Or we may not react to the
degree that it be an obvious allergic response, yet we still have stressed immune systems the
instigator of autoimmune diseases.
These foods trigger immune response because we have not genetically adapted to what
our immune system perceives as an onslaught of alien starch. Genetically, we are virtually
identical to our foraging ancestors, as we are at most only 400 generations removed from them
not enough time to evolve.(Our pets suffer from these foods as well, and for similar reasons.
For example, the cancer rate in dogs is skyrocketing, and they are afflicted with some of the
same autoimmune diseases that visit us.)

So how do we return to our old diet? Lets first gain some perspective by taking a look
at the accompanying food pyramids. Then, to give more of a feel for our native diet, Id like to
take you back to our aboriginal past to experience a hypothetical days meals
Upon rising we sate our early hunger with a quick and easy meal of the Blueberries and
Juneberries growing in the Meadow before us, and round it out with a handful of Nuts from our stores
of last autumn. By late morning appetites return, drawing us to the succulent Fish roasting over the
Fire. While we were making Rush mats for a lodge, two of our kin brought the Fish up from our traps
in the River, and gathered Greens for the lunch as they made their way back. This morning the
children, instructed by the women, set snares and deadfalls in the thicket just east of camp. Shadows
now stretch across the valley their signal to check the traps. In a flash they are back with two
Lizards and a Jackrabbit (the women and children generally provided more of the protein than did the
men) to add to the Flowers and Mushrooms they gathered earlier in the afternoon. We look forward
to an evening Feast!
Of course in this day it is not practical for all of us to return to a fare of wild foraged
foods. Our lifestyles wouldnt allow that, nor would our crowded Earth. But we can, as with
macrobiotics, follow the principle with the foods available to us. Obviously, were looking at an
entirely new concept in food shopping! But dont let that dissuade you; the diet is quite easy to
replicate without altering your food procurement routine. The following guidelines should help
get you started:
Shop the walls of your food store. There youll find the ancestral foods fruits,
vegetables, fish and meats. The taboo processed foods, grains and beans are conveniently
sequestered to the middle aisles.
Buy organic when possible, and free-ranged over grain-fed meat.. It aint wild, but its the
next best thing.
Choose foods edible in their raw state, even though you may be cooking them.
Select foods and proportions within the guidelines of the Ancestral Food Pyramid.
Seek out new foods. The more varied your diet the more interesting and satisfying it will
be and the broader will be your nutritional base.
Purchase fish that are not pond raised. They are fed soy mash and do not compare
nutritionally with their wild counterparts. Ocean salmon, for example, have twice the
omega 3 fatty acids of their pen-raised kin.
Hulled nuts are often rancid and nutritionally compromised. For example, Brazil nuts inthe-shell have four times the selenium of their hulled counterparts, and hulled Sunflower
seeds are so often rancid that most of us dont know what a fresh Sunflower seed tastes
like. Nuts keep best in the shell, yet still go rancid in time, so check harvest date when
Eat a significant portion of your food raw or lightly cooked.
Change your diet slowly to allow your intestinal flora to adjust. If you have any trouble
(diarrhea, bloating, gas), eat greens for a couple days, then slowly add meat, nuts, and fruit,
in that order.

Those of us not accustomed to eating meat will need to increase water intake, as the
metabalization of meat requires more water than does other foods.
Incorporate some wild foraged foods (see reference listed below).
Menu Suggestions
Following is a weeks menu based on my style of eating. I offer this to give you some
ideas as to the range of culinary possibilities. Adapt food choices, volume and time of
consumption to the way your body functions. I, for example, eat less than the average person
and do well with more fruit than many. Unlike me, some people do better starting their day
with other than fruit. Some prefer grazing (nibbling small amounts of food throughout the
day)in lieu of meals. You may wish to approach your own meal preparation either more simply
or elaborately than do I. Either way, I think you will find, as I have, that your dining enjoyment
will grow along with your new dietary choices.
Breakfast - watermelon (with seeds)
- steamed broccoli, olives, seaweed
Supper - bass fillets, spinach salad, steamed mixed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower,
artichoke hearts)
Breakfast - bananas, apples, orange
- scrambled eggs, celery and carrot sticks
Supper - turkey, brussels sprouts, vegetable stir-fry (mushrooms, green peppers, onions, bok
Breakfast - bowl of berries, pears, kiwi
- mixed nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, filberts)
Supper - smoked salmon, salad of deep green lettuce, parsley, diced olives with olive oil and
vinegar dressing
Breakfast - melon salad (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)
- steamed mixed nuts with chives and kale
Supper - steamed clams, fried cabbage and anise greens
Breakfast - nectarines, grapes
- veggie omelet (eggs, green and red peppers, cilantro, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes)
Supper - halibut fillet, steamed bok choy and beet greens

Breakfast - tangerines, plums, peaches
- avocado, raw almonds and pecans
Dinner - rabbit stew (rabbit, turnips, celery, broccoli, onions, mustard greens)
Breakfast - fruit salad (apples, peaches, pears, banana, grapes)
- olive salad (diced olives, cucumber, basil)
Dinner - baked salmon and vegetable sticks (celery, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
dried meat
dried fruit (eat no more than if fresh)
raw vegetables
hard boiled egg
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:
Should I continue taking vitamins?
Vitamins are needed to metabolize food. The less natural the food, the more vitamins are
needed. With this diet of easily-digestible, genetically compatible foods, vitamins may not be
necessary. Variety in diet helps provide complete nutrition.
Im going to get sick on all that fat!
Because of the elimination of vegetable oils and dairy, you may find yourself actually consuming
less total fat.
What can I do to get over the restrictiveness of this diet?
Even though produce departments are stocked with a vast array of vegetables, we tend to
subsist on about ten favorites. Our foraging ancestors utilized around 100. Our food
preferences are culturally influenced, therefore expandable. Experiment; there are many taste
delights awaiting discovery. Dogmatism around food tends to backfire; I would suggest allowing
yourself flexibility around meals eaten out and tolerance of occasional indulgings. We are
designed to handle sporadic, short-term stress; it is chronic stress that fries our immune
I dont think I can eat enough food to get the variety I should have for proper nutrition.
Although our ancestors consumed a rich variety of foods, they didnt do so each and every day.
Their fare varied from day to day, depending upon season and local availability. Because of the

bodys capacity to store many nutrients, we normally do quite well with overall, rather than
daily, broad food variety.
I find my appetite has increased; will I put on more weight?
Dont worry, eat! Your increased appetite is likely temporary, and is better satisfied than risking
the potential repercussions of suppression. Youre likely enjoying foods you have been denied
for a long time, so naturally youll tend to indulge at first. Chew your food thoroughly and put
your fork down between bites. This will slow your eating and allow you to feel your stomachs
fullness, which takes around 20 minutes. You can meet your between-meal cravings and junk
food temptations by carrying high-energy politically er, ancestrally, correct snack foods such
as those listed under Menu Suggestions above.
What about organic meat; is it good for me?
When animals intended for human consumption are fed grain they are affected the same as are
we the quantity of their fat rises dramatically and the heart-healthy component of that fat
falls dramatically. Our consumption of that fat reflects in our fat composition. So, and if for
health reasons we choose to eat organic grain-fed animals, we are still negatively affecting our
health. Wild and range-raised (no grain) domestic animals have heart-healthy fat.
What beneficial changes can I expect?
You should have a calmer stomach, less gas, more and more sustained energy. You will likely
have a feeling of contentedness after eating, with fewer food cravings.
Let us remember that what we eat and how we eat it is not a formula for health; it is
but a component. We need clean air, clear water, and a lifestyle low in stress and high in the
nourishment we gain from healing, sustaining relationship. Perhaps we can regain these lessons
from our ancestors as well.

For further reading

Atkins, Robert C., M.D., Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, 1992.
Audette, Ray, and Troy Gilchrist, NeanderThin: Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong,
Healthy Body, 1999.
Eades, Michael R., M.D. and Mary Dan Eades, M.D., Protein Power, 1995.
Pottenger, Francis M., M.D., Pottengers Cats: A Study in Nutrition, 1983.

Price, Weston A. D.D.S., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1989.

Schmid, Ronald F., Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine: Improving Health and Longevity with
Native Nutrition, 1997.

Diamond, Jared, The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. Discover (May 1987),
Song, Tamarack, Go Wild: The Pleasures, Benefits, and Ecology of Wildcrafted Foods, [2000],
Personal Collection.
Web Pages
Paleolithic Diet Web Page
by Tamarack Song, Owl Clan
Teaching Drum Outdoor School
7124 Military Road
Three Lakes, WI 54562-9333

author bio
Tamarack heads the Teaching Drum Outdoor School, which offers wilderness skills and Native
lifeway programs. He is also a counselor, museum and historic site consultant, guide for rites
of passage, and he officiates wilderness weddings. His other writings are listed on our web site
at You may contact him at or phone 715546-2944.




Be as a Question
(Unedited tape transcript)
In the time of the Old Ones, when our ancestors still walked the Beauty Way,
there lived a woman called She Bear and a man known as Looks Far. They felt deep
love for each other they were of shared soul. After they were joined in ceremony,
they went to build their lodge beside the rapids upriver from the main camp. In a short
time they were blessed with the birth of a daughter, who was given the name Sees-LikeFrog.
One day while out checking their fishtraps they heard a series of frantic yelps
coming from far up the rapids. The sound was so intense and piercing that it carried
over the gushing sound of the rippling waters. They listened intently trying to figure out
the source of the sound, but the yelps grew fainter and soon there were no more.
A few moments later something bumped She Bear her in the back of the leg as
she was standing the water bent over the fishtrap. She jumped with a start, dropped the
fish she had just grabbed and spun around to see a waterlogged Wolf pup, face down in
the water as though drowned. Instantly she recognized him as the source of the yelps
and instinctively picked him up and began to rub him.
His mouth gave a slight quiver. He was not dead. She rubbed him all the more
vigorously and pressed upon his chest to help him breathe. In no time he was coughing
and wheezing trying to catch breathe on his own. She dried him with soft grasses and
warmed him in the folds of her body and soon he was meowing and whimpering as
contentedly as though nothing had happened.
But now what? she asked of Looks Far, who had been watching all this intently.
He is much too young to be on his own, his eyes are barely open.
Will his mother come back for him?
For some reason the she-wolf must have been moving her pups across the
stream. Looks Far said, And for some reason, perhaps she slipped on a rock, dropped
this one. The current must have pulled him away from her before she could grab him.
Perhaps she was reluctant to leave the rest of her pups behind to rescue this
one, or I should think wed have seen her by now.
It may be that he is our gift, that we are intended to caretake him.
If that be so I will nurse him. He is one of my own, as my Dodem is Maingan

She Bear said. He is too young to eat and I have milk enough to share between both
him and our baby. And so they raised the two babes together, as brother and sister.
They called him Rock Dancer in honor of his mother and of the way he came to them.
The next turn of the season went peacefully as both pup and child grew together.
In the time when the child was leaving the cradleboard and taking her first steps it was
again time to tend to the fishtraps in the rapids. One morning after ShadowMoon left to
gather nettle in the downstream meadow Looks Far went down the bank to check the
fishtrap just below the lodge. Sees-Like-Frog was sleeping in the furs at the back of the
lodge and Rock Dancer was on guard outside the door. Shortly after Looks Far waded
into the river he heard an agonizing scream pierce the still morning air. He knew the
voice, it was his child. He raced up the bank, first into the lodge, there to greet him was
the Wolf with blood on his mouth. Looks Far rushed past Rock Dancer to the back of
the lodge only to find Sees-Like-Frog gashed open and laying lifeless in a pool of blood.
In a mindless rage he spun around, grabbed his hunting club and sent it crushing
into the skull of the Wolf. Then he fell to his knees, released the club and soberly
crawled over to behold the tragedy of his babe. As he leaned over to touch her he saw a
bloodied track exiting the lodge covering right behind the babys bed. The fathers heart
stopped and he let out a wail of agony that quieted everything, even the river. The
tracks were of a Cougar, the old crippled one who they had seen hanging around to
steal in close in the night to scavenge a meager meal of fish scraps. Rock Dancer had
attacked the Cougar to defend the babe, which is why he had blood on his mouth.
Down river She Bear heard the scream that stilled all other sound! She dropped
her basket and bolted for home. The wail shook her like a peal of deafening thunder
after a lightning strike. Even louder to her was the silence after the wail. It was as
though death itself had a voice that only she could hear. Immediately the fear that only
a mother can know rose in her breast like the burning heart of a volcano about to erupt.
She saw images flashing before her of her babe swaddled peacefully in the furs and of
the aged starving cat lurking menacing around the perimeter of their camp.
Her worst fears could not have prepared her for the sight that greeted her
across the threshold of the lodge lay Rock Dancer, his head misshapen and bloody.
In the shadows at the side of the lodge sat a man who was barely recognizable to
her. There she found her mate sitting before their lodge, his hair hacked off, his face
smeared with black ash. He had slashed himself twice across his chest. He was marked

with the agony of death! Each gash was slowly dripping the fluid of life into the deathbringing wrenched hands that lay in his lap.
He barely acknowledged her as she touched his face and then turned to enter
the lodge. She couldnt breathe. Her pounding heart pained her eyes and crackled in her
ears. As she stooped to enter the low doorway she came face to face with the listless
form that was once her babes unswerving guardian and companion.
A second soul-searing wail, this time from her, rose like a tidal wave and stilled
again all of life as it crashed through the forest.
They laid the Wolf before the child just as they had been in life and lit fire to the
lodge so that the spirits of the babe and the Wolf would travel together to spirit lodge
where they would now dwell. Then they returned to their people who clothed them in
castaway skins and fed them as they mourned for a full turn of the seasons.
In the final days of their mourning they sought the counsel of their Elders who
guided them in their meditations and envisionings to know the profound teaching theyd
been given. Soon thereafter she became with child and a new joy rooted in the wisdom
of their teachings took hold in their lives. Their family grew and flourished and the
example of their life to honor the question in every voice and every movement
inspired many.
Their guiding voice rings down through the ages. Here, laced with the
teachings from my own failing to remember the question, I will share with you
the echo of their words so that perhaps the questions guidance can be known to
you with less pain.
Im more impressed with intelligent questions than right answers. The
questioning process leads to answers, and well-developed Attunement and
Awareness skills lead to questions which are actually clues to the answer. Even if
the answer can be arrived at quickly, improper or incomplete questioning will not
bring the desired depth of feeling or understanding of the answer.
For example, a short while ago two Seekers brought me a conifer branch
they wished me to identify for them. If I did so, they would have their answer and
likely be content, learning little about neither the tree nor the learning process.
So I turned the question back to them, along with some guidance as to where to

find their answers.

I discourage their use of field guides in the field, as books can give
answers almost as quickly as can I. Instead, I encourage them to ask the plant
who she is why she is growing where she is, who her neighbors are, why she
is structured the way she is in consideration of her neighborhood. Then I suggest
they flow into the plant so they can feel thirst and sun and wind as does the
A persons potential to learn is more important to me than what he
already knows. I gain a feel for that potential by the questions he asks rather than
the answers he gives. His questions give me insight into how his mind works, his
perspective, his potential adaptability. Questions unfold your future, answers
reflect your past. So your growth would benefit more from an insightful question
than a knowledgeable answer. Both your time and that of your guide would be
better spent questing the unknown than restating the past.
I do not give the Seekers whom I Guide, tests in the standard sense. I give
them challenges and scenarios that stimulate them to ask themselves the
questions that will lead to the knowledge they need. This is seldom the
knowledge they seek, for they are looking into the unknown their own future,
and know not what they will find. One thing they do find with this approach is
that their life with the Mother unfolds as a series of questions, one blossoming
into another, rather than graspable answers, as they had been taught in their
rational lives in boxes.
Questions reflect flow, answers are concrete. Questions stimulate,
answers state. Questions travel, they carry you like the flow of a stream;
answers sit, they hold you as would a weighty stone upon your back. An
insightful question reflects depth; a knowledgeable answer displays storage.
An answer feeds you; a question teaches you how to find food. A question
brings knowledge in your language; an answer speaks in a foreign tongue. A
question honors your time, your ways; an answer asks that you adapt to its time
and ways. An answer shows you a facet of the crystal; a question takes you
inside the crystal, were you are bathed in a kaleidoscopic rainbow of its faceted
The root of the word question is quest. Quest!

Da 0i
Our Daily Honoring
(Unedited tape transcript)
When I was a young Seeker I had the honor of being guided by Keewaydinoquay
Elder and Mashkikikwe (Medicine Woman) of the Ojibwa tribe. She initiated me into
the ways and rituals which her People call Da0i (pronounced Daa-glottal stop-ee).
Fundamental to it, is a private sacred area in the Woods where each goes to commune
a place away from things familiar and shared. An intimate relationship is developed
with this place; the individual grows close with the Energies and non-Human Relations
who live there. Da 0i time provides a daily break from routine, nurtures growth in
Awareness and Attunement, and allows quiet for contemplation. It offers intimate
connection with the rite of giving and receiving.
Keewaydinoquay recounted that in the Old Ways of her People a person's
bodily wastes scat, fingernails, hair are not considered garbage, but a returning
gift to The Mother who bore and nourished them (in rough parallel to a gardeners
placing food scraps on a compost pile). Her People keep their fingernails and the hair
from their combs and take it along with them to their Da0i spot when they go to relieve
themselves. This is considered a sacred ritual and a special time in the day to gift The
Earth Mother. They view the returning of their bodily wastes, their menstrual blood,
and eventually their bodies themselves, as a sacramental Thanksgiving an Offering to
The Bosom of cherished nourishment in honor of the nourishment that She so
generously and bounteously provides.
Native Peoples have an intimate understanding of, and relationship with, the
Circular Way of Things. To many of them the use of toilets, sinks, and garbage cans is
sacrilegious a breaking of that Rounding Way and a gross oversight in the caring for
The Mother. I know of Natives who have refused to use toilets, because they would be
taking and not giving back. They cringe at the thought of flushing their excrement down
a pipe into the blood of The Mother, or burying their garbage in Her flesh.
So a Native's connection with his Sacred Spot is an intimate one indeed. She
literally becomes of it, and it of her. She carefully selects spots to place her gifts so that
they be out of the possible step of others and at the same time nourish plants and
animals who in turn will nourish. Here her Moon-blood rejoins with the Mother Blood,
here perhaps a child of hers who has passed over has been given back to his First
Mother and is nourishing the nuts and berries who are giving life to his living siblings.
We have lost the full significance of many of our Native ways and retain (or have
returned to) perhaps only a semblance of what they once were. Some, because of

disuse, have been lost to time. Some have been squelched by conflicting values or the
numbness of progress, and some have been expropriated taken out of context
and/or revamped to suit our current needs and desires. For example, Yoga a sacred
and complete way of life, has become for us a form of exercise. Shamanism a sacred
and lifelong calling for which one is anointed at birth, has been reformatted for sign-up
at weekend workshops. Da0i has met a fate similar to these other Native practices.
I caringly suggest that we take the example of Da0i as our inspiration for a sacred
relationship with a special time and place on the Bosom of Earth. I feel it could help
break down the people-nature barrier we have constructed and that the sit spot
approach unwittingly perpetuates (see sit spot article). Perhaps the process of renewal
will reflect in the rest of our lives, helping to bring back a richness and a meaning that
we have lost.

Next to the returning of our own bodies and spirits to the Eternal Cycle, Da 0i is
our most sacred and intimate connection to that ever moving flow. Matter (or spirit,
for that matter) has no form or bounds unto itself, as all things on a macro and micro
and ethereal level are going through a constant process of transformation and rebirth.
Death is life; every entity is dying as it is being reborn into something (or things) else,
which is dying even as it comes into being.
Every time we eat we take on a new aspect or component of spirit; as the food
becomes part of our physical form, so does its spirit become one with ours. In the
same sense, every time we perform Da0i, we leave a bit of our spirit behind. It goes on
to become part of the spirit of whatever it nourishes.

Going out to pee helps us to stay connected with the Mother, otherwise could
stay inside all day.
The most persistent criticism I hear concerning Da0i is that it is not convenient,
so it encourages people to hold it ina very unhealthy situation. If it comes to a choice
between convention and constipation, for the sake of personal health, I would opt for
convention. However, for the sake of perspective, lets step back and look at it from the
Greater Circle. Is it progress to empty our bowels via the conventional flush if it defiles
the Mother by forcing it deep into Her flesh? Every convenience exacts its toll. If we are
not willing to pay the price, someone else must. Such is the Way of the Circle. If we
would constipate ourselves for inconvenience, perhaps we would also freeze and starve
if our push-button heat and instant food was denied us? I think we would quickly adjust
and start locomoting to seek out these necessities. The same with Da0i. The vast

majority of our actions are governed by habit, and we could establish good and reliable
habit in short order.
There is one other consideration, that being that the woods will spit you out if
you are not (yet) comfortable in her. This will interfere with your Da0i. Take it slow to
begin with, going out for your Da 0i only when it feels comfortable and appealing to you.
As you go out, remind yourself of the sacredness and the give/sharing of your action.
Forcing yourself to do something you are not yet attuned to may cause a reactionary
reversion. I have seen it time and again. It is better that you be a closet crapper for a
while longer than to risk the backlash that could keep you from Da0i forever.
To me shit pits, latrines, outhouses, and septic tanks are scars in the Earth, an
insult to the Mother. Using one for Da0i changes a sacred act of the Circle and a gifting
to The Mother into a fetid, defiling act of pollution. In looking beyond ourselves to the
greater Life-Circle of which we are part, what is gained if we empty our bowels only to
fill those of our Mother?
Toilets are alien to me. I feel that I am committing a sacrilege against the Earth
when I use one. This sometimes presents a unique challenge to me when Im in an urban
area seeking out a tucked-away place for Da0i.
The stories I could tell about attempting Da0i in the city! Theres always a brushy
spot in a park, or a hedgerow, within a short walk, even in the densest city. But I would
only suggest such practice to the seasoned, diehard Da0i enthusiast who can become
One with a scanty hedgerow as well as with more flush sylvan surroundings, and who
allows himself no other recourse but self containment.
Civilized People go inside a building to relieve themselves; Native People go
outside. The point at which Native Peoples lose their desire to perform their bodily
functions outside and tolerate doing it regularly in their abodes is the point at which
they become civilized. It is a monumental step, as it is the point of no return. It is the
unclasping of ones hand from that of the Mothers. It is leaving Her Bosom. Or as my
recovering Christian friends would say, it is closing the Gates of Eden.
When we place the gift of our scat deep in the Earth we break the Circle of Life.
The nourishment which belongs to others is kept from them, the Seeds which pass
through us go unscattered, unplanted.
Bathrooms are responsible for more sickness than most of us realize. Every time
a toilet is flushed, a microscopic spray of germs and bacteria is spread around the room,
contaminating toothbrushes, hairbrushes, washcloths, towels, soapbars, exposed tissues,
bathtubs. Helps to close toilet lid before flushing and keep personal care items in

drawers or otherwise covered.

Dai additions
How to respectfully return these gifts back to the Earth after they have passed
through us.
1. Dont bury deep, stay in topsoil layernaturally where organic matter
decomposes, becomes humus
2. Compress the covering over dump so that Flies cant get at it.
3. Move away quickly from the immediate area of your Da0i, to prevent Flies that
may have landed on your dung from contaminating you with anything infectious
you may have expelled.
Great majority of Civilized People are constipated
When you have urge to eliminate, do it right then and there.
for physical healththe urge is a voice to be heeded to avoid repercussionsone
of which is habitual retention
for being true to momentin attunement (besides, a later time may not afford
the opportunity for easy elimination, or it may trip up the later moment.)
Study dumps and urine; they tell a lot about present health and condition and
efficiency of digestive system.
Snow Dai
On the first time in make a good track because youll be using it a lot. Do with
no straddlehard for others to follow. Reverse your steps on the way out so that it
looks like your trail is coming out of the Woods rather than going in. People are less
tempted to backtrack a trail; they see outgoing tracks as leading toward something and
usually dont realize that incoming track can lead to the same thing. Do a loop before
reversing your track, so that your trail doesnt lead right to your dumpsite.
Camouflage urine in snow, pee in one small spot.
More about urine:
- Its best to avoid peeing in one spot, because Animals are drawn to the
concentrated mineral salts, besides killing the Plants and Trees directly, Animals
will often come and eat the very ground you pee on, or chew the bark of the
Tree you are peeing on, thereby killing it.

The following is an article written for Green Anarchy Magazine by Glenn

Helkenn; a student in the 2001 Wilderness Guide Program.
"A Return to Wild LifeThe Journey from "Civilized" to "Primitive" Living or
How to Become a Godless Savage in Three Easy Steps
By RedWolfReturns
"When I enter the Forest in m y buckskins, supplied with the knowledge of
where to find water and food and shelter, I have crossed a bridge and
entered the world of the wildlings. I'm there, on their level, feeling the same
feelings, having the sam e needs, extending the sam e trust in our common
Earth Mother to provide. If I'm not awake and aware, I'm forced to become
so in order to remain there, to have my needs met. I blend in and move with,
rather than walking about and observing. I have crossed the threshold from
camping to com muning."
--Tamarack Song
I have been involved in the "primitive skills movement" for a little over three
years now. For me, this involvement just seemed to flow naturally from my
encounters with radical environmentalism, indigenous-rights activism, and
anarcho-primitivism. I wanted more than just an intellectual philosophy or a
distant revolutionary objective--I wanted a real-world, in-the-dirt experience
of what these various lines of thought were aiming at. I wanted to learn what
it might mean to become indigenous to the landnot as a concept or ideal,
but as a living experience.
To that end, I spent a good amount of time traveling around North-Am erica
studying skills & philosophy with various individuals and attending various
gatherings until I finally ended up in a year-long immersion course at the
Teaching Drum Outdoor Schools primitive camp (called Nishnajida which is
Algonquin for where the Old-Ways return) in the North-Woods of Wisconsin.
The program here works toward healing the wounds of civilization and
attempting to reclaim a life-way consistent with the ancient ecological
wisdom of hunter-gatherer indigenous peoples. We dont try to play Indian
or superficially mimic Native-American cultural form s, but rather re-connect
with the core of what it means to live as Earth-People again regardless of
race or ethnicitysince the Ancestral lineage for all of us eventually begins
with Old-Way peoples. Daily life involves learning & practicing such skills as
building earth-lodges for shelter, tanning hides & furs for clothing, making
fire without matches, basket-weaving and other crafts, predicting the
weather, tracking wild animals and wild-crafting edible & medicinal plants.
We slowly integrate into the skills and awarenesss necessary to become
more independent of the cash-economy and more intimately interdependent
on both our face-to-face community and the nurturing care of our Bioregion.
The first week out here (with ones food & shelter already provided by the
school) is a lot like camping. This is basically as it should be, because if one

were to get dumped cold-turkey-style out of civilization and into the

wilderness with no m odern technology and no prior primitive experience,
their first week would be the beginning of a life and death struggle for
survival with very slim chances for success beyond a month or two at most.
This is not because nature is a nasty, brutish, or even m ildly unfriendly place,
rather it is because those of us who have been raised in civilization have
been raised to be highly technology-dependent, unresourceful and
unobservant, in a wordstupid, or more politelydomesticated. This
dom estication not only makes us easily controllable and exploitable, it also
creates a powerful division between us and naturebetween our perspective
and that of our wild kin. If you throw a poodle into the wilderness it will soon
become coyote bait, and the situation for most of us raised in modern
society is little better. The one difference between the poodle and us,
however, is that the poodle has been bred (genetically manipulated) to be
pathetic and dependent, whereas we have been educated (psychologically
conditioned) to be so. While that poodle cannot change its genetic makeup,
we can change our psychological conditioning even though it may take
considerable time and effort.
Som etime around the first month or so out here is when one begins to face
some of that psychological conditioning and realize the level of personal
healing that needs to take place before one can feel at home in the natural
world. For me, this first became obvious when I started feeling overwhelming
compulsions to bike into town to binge on junk food and buy stuff I thought
I needed. I also started smoking again, even though I had quit over a year
before. My dreams became troubledI was fighting against myself. I began
to see just how much the outer violence & greed I had been struggling with
as an urban activist had obscured my vision from the inner violence & greed
that I carried with me wherever I went. I was, in fact, an intimate part of the
problem, and carried within me the hollow and manipulative heart of a firstworld consumer.
I learned that struggles like these (or other such responsessom e m ore
dram atic, some lessdepending on the individual) are to be expected when
one attempts to break free from long-term, entrenched conditioning. This is
because psychological & emotional comfort is largely based on maintaining
familiar circumstances and habits. Also, the clear mirror of the natural world
will reflect on the self in ways most of us are simply not used to when we are
acclimated to the near-constant alienation of technological existence.
Because of this, facing ones self (& others) honestly can be a frightening
experienceas we carry and pass on the trauma acquired throughout our
lives inside the cages of institutional society.
Around three months into the year, I began to fully realize the importance of
inter-personal & inter-political relationship skills as absolutely crucial survival
skills within the primitive life-way. Humans evolved to be communal
beingsmuch like wolves, and a lone individual living off the land will have a
very difficult time compared to a tightly knit group that can flow well together

to get things done. Traditional indigenous peoples devote a great deal of their
cultural energy to this process (m uch more than to their material culture),
with considerable success. For our community out at Nishnajida, this means
dealing with individual and group conflicts immediately as they come up. It
also means not having anyone with enforcement authority to appeal to when
conflicts arise. And finally, it means operating by consensusnot just in a few
areasbut in nearly every area of decision-making and daily living. We use
the tool of the talking circle to create a forum for sacred speech and deep
listening while we learn, as best we can, to be in-the-mom ent truth-speakers
with each-other. When one lives with the same people, sharing nearly all
aspects of life together and depending on one-another for the long-term ,
conflicts & m isunderstandings will often arise. If those conflicts are not faced
honestly and resolved in a consensual way for all those involved, then the
festering resentment that follows will undermine the groups flow and simply
make life hard for everyone.
When it comes to the material matters of the primitive life-way, Ive been
shown that intimacy and respect are again the key lessons to be learned,
while the various technical aspects are more peripheral and flow from these
first two ingredients. Certainly the issue of hunting can be controversial, but
Id like to touch on it because I think it illustrates best the differences
between primitive approaches vs. more technological ones. Hunting in a
primitive manner is really a matter of being deeply attuned to the wild
communities of ones Bioregion and it is nearly impossible to be successful for
long otherwise. At Nishnajida we take a considerable amount of time
(perhaps many years) to prepare for our first hunt, since it is a powerful and
sacred act. This preparation entails getting to know our fellow animal peoples
in a similar way as we know our human relationsi.e. through direct
encounter & the sharing of needs. In this way, we might be aware that, for
instance, the old buck that we have seen mature & become an elder these
past years has recently injured his leg and will be unlikely to survive the
coming winter. Or possibly that one of our neighboring does gave birth to a
second fawn that is too weak to mature into adulthood. With this level of
attunement, the equipment needed for hunting that crippled buck or weak
fawn might be as simple as a rawhide snare and a stout club. Also, one can
then be sure that he is taking what is being offered by his relations rather
than disregarding their needs and weakening them (like such practices as
when high-tech sport-hunters kill trophy bucks and deplete the deerpeoples of their most capable young warriors each year). In the Old-Way
respect is engendered because, as hunter-gatherers, our needs and wellbeing really are intertwined with theirsthey are not pests who eat our
crops or just pretty animals that we like to viewthey ARE us, and we are
them in the circle of life.
Gathering wild plants is a similar issue. Very few greens are edible and/or
available all year long, so a hunter-gatherers success comes from knowing a
large number of plant communities very intimatelywhat parts are edible at
what times of the year and in what quantity she can gather them without

damaging the overall population (which might cause her people to go hungry
next year). For instance, wild leek greens are an excellent food source here in
the North Woods and can be gathered in great quantitybut they only grow
in specific places (you might have to travel miles to get them) and only send
up their leaves for a few weeks during the entire year.
Fishing works similarly. One can drop a line in any of the lakes around here
and catch a few days worth of food. However, if one wants to lay up winter
stores for her com munity, then the way to do this is to catch the Suckerfish
during their spring spawning run. This usually lasts less than a week (and
what week it is varies depending on how the seasons change each year), but
during that time, hundreds of fish can be caught to then be dried and stored
for later.
Basically, what all this boils down to is that life for a hunter-gatherer without
the benefits of modern technology & agriculture is easy if one is attuned
and aware in his or her environment, but is difficult if one is out of touch. The
Mother will care for Her children lovingly, as She has done for countless
millennia prior to the advent of, and outside the parameters of industrial
civilization, but only on Her termsnot ours. One can only learn so much of
this through books, most of it must be learned through personal lived
experience. That is why it is called wisdom rather than just knowledge,
and why indigenous peoples respect their elders & their oral traditions.
This way of being in-touch (I am learning) is the key to making primitive
living work. One needs to be in-touch at all levels of his or her
existencewith ones own self, with ones human circle, and with ones nonhuman relations (i.e. ones environm ent). This being in-touch is (I now
think) what indigenous peoples primarily mean when they talk about
W alking in Balance with All Our Relations. When it comes right down to it,
this isnt just some rhetorical flourish or new-agey bullshitit is a base-line
and completely practical survival skill that makes the difference between
whether one views the Earth as a nurturing and caring Mother or one views
life in the wilderness as being nasty, brutish, & short. It seems to me, at
least, that being in-touch in such a manner may be essential to our
perspective if we are to understand what is required of us to live in perpetual
harmony with the Earth.
Anyone interested in learning more about this life-way can contact me at with any questions or comments.


Imagine youre a Wolf and have lived in a cage all your life. You have
yearned to learn the natural ways of your ancestors, of your wild and free kin.
Then one day the cage door is opened and there to meet you is a wise one of
your kind who will guide you for the next turn of the seasons back to your
Native ways. He will help you get in touch with your intrinsic wolfness and help
you heal through the pain and numbness of your cage life. Hell show you how
to walk honorably and respectfully on The Earth Mother how to reattune your
senses, hunt and find shelter, forecast the weather and know your way without
getting lost, and so much more.
When it is time for your path and his to separate, youll be the child of The
Mother you were intended to be, ready to rejoin your pack and walk in Balance
with all your nonhuman relations. Youll be functioning from your heart-of-hearts
that place of Balance where senses, intuition, intellect, feelings and spirit meet.
His approach, his training, will leave you with the ability to readily adapt to a
variety of climates and environments. You will have the fire of the Old Way
within you, so that you can go and ignite the spark in others. This is the focus of
the Wilderness Guide Program.
This full-time one year course will take you from where you are to being
near completely Earth (not self) sufficient from survival to living, from
spectator to dwelling in attuned immersion. Youll be gathering most of your
food and finding safe drinking water, youll be making your own shelter and
buckskin clothing, fish traps and snowshoes, bowls and baskets, and more. Youll
learn what to use for soap and shampoo, for cuts and intestinal cramps. Youll
have the opportunity to make your own skin boat and paddle. Youll be stalking
and snaring, youll be walking silently and seeing more than you ever thought
possible. Youll learn first-hand the spiritual life of the Native. Youll know, from
their direct teaching, the ways of Wolf and Deer and Raven, of the elder trees
and healing herbs and soothing clays. And youll be gaining other skills and
awarenesses that would not be prudent to mention here.
For many of us, to survive by our own wits off Earths bounty has romantic
appeal. Those who have actually done it will tell you it surely does live up to that
expectation, but hardly in the ways initially envisioned. Survival in reality and

much of its mystery and intrigue lies in changing attitudes about such things as
food and comfort and need. Perspective changes when we go from learning and
practicing a skill to actually having to rely upon it to live.
You will be reinventing wheels, so-to-speak relearning skills you may
already know, so that you can use them reliably, when you actually need them.
To learn an Earth skill in a simulated situation, isolated from its environmental
context, is a simplistic and potentially dangerous approach; it can handicap you
when you actually need to practice it. To learn the skill when it is necessary, in a
variety of real, challenging situations, engages your creativity and adaptability. It
involves your whole being, which encourages success and helps the skill to
become second-nature to you.
For example, if I were to learn fire-by-friction in a class setting I could be
handicapped in the field in three ways: I would have trouble determining when to
appropriately use the skill, I would be unable to identify and prepare needed
materials, and I might have difficulty executing the skill within the context of
environmental variables.
Lets say I am cold and wet: My first task is not to make a fire, an option
that many would first turn to. Doing so could kill me. I would first determine my
condition and location, read the weather and terrain, assess risk factors, then
consider my options. If firemaking fits into one of them I will then choose a
location that will afford the fire and me shelter, safety, accessibility to fuel and
human needs, and visibility (or lack thereof, depending on the situation).
Next I will gather firemaking materials and fuel stock. In order to do so Ill
need to know the qualities of the various woods and fibrous plants in my area, in
which season they are available, in what type of habitat I might find them, and
where to find them dry. I might also do well knowing my animal relations and
having a well-developed intuitive sense, as a mouse nest, for example, makes an
excellent, ready-made tinder bundle.
If there is snow, rain, or even damp ground, I have further challenge in
terms of site preparation and fire starting.
As you can see from the above scenario, the actual firemaking would be a
small part of what I need to do to survive a final step that could be taken only if
I can first execute a range of skills that to large degree draw upon my more
qualitative abilities of awareness and attunement of mind and eye. These

skills, which are a primary focus of this program, are often quite more complex
and challenging than the hand skills (such as firemaking).
The other half of this courses focus and just as important is people
skills. In the Old Way people live honorably and respectfully with each other not
only as a matter of principle but as a matter of necessity. In our regular lives we
may go to work or school with one group of people, come home to a family, and
socialize with yet another group of people. If we have problems with people at
work, for example, we leave them behind when we go home, and vice versa.
Not so in the Old Way. We are sleeping and eating and working and
playing and praying with the same people all day, all night, every day, every night.
Theres really nowhere to go, no diversion. Denial doesnt get us far, escape is
short-lived. Run away or sedate ourselves and its still there when we get back.
Our Human circle relationship either works or it doesnt. (And, interestingly, our
ability to function in that relationship is directly related to our ability to function
in our Earth relationship.)
You will learn the way of the Talking Circle, how to express your real,
deeper needs and feelings, how to speak in Sacred Space, and the strengths and
challenges of Circle energy as opposed to Pyramid energy.
These people skills are important for two reasons: Firstly, because we are
social beings. We cannot survive alone. We have evolved to be interactive with
our species, and to do that well and healthily makes the difference between
existing and living, between subsisting and flourishing. Secondly, these skills apply
to all aspects of life, all lifestyles and occupations. So whether our future calls us
to live in the wilderness or not, our life and the lives of those we touch is
In a typical course Tamarack can share, and a student can absorb, only a
small fraction of what he has to give. Here he is able to demonstrate his true
style that of the Native Guide to the fullest. He doesnt play guru or
charismatic teacher, nor will he hold your hand and lead you. He deliberately
keeps a low profile, sometimes watching from afar, then stepping forward at key
times to offer guidance or share a skill. As in Native cultures, you are really your
own teacher; you have to be self-motivated and follow through on what
Tamarack gives you in order to develop the skill or awareness. In the Old Way it
is not the Guides responsibility to teach, but the Seekers responsibility to learn.

This is a one-of-a-kind program; it has no generalized agenda, no books or

tapes or workshops, no mail-order mentoring. This is the actual Native
approach one-on-one, geared specifically to you, a complete living-learning
experience in the wilderness.
Youve read about what its like to live in the Wilderness, youve heard it
talked about, perhaps youve taken a course or two that teaches some of the
skills you need to do it . . . but where is it really being done? Can it really be
learned without downright doing it? If you wanted to skydive, would you settle
for learning some skills associated with it and hearing some stories about it, but
not actually getting to do it?
Qualifications are stringent; they have to do with integrity and strength of
will more so than with how much outdoor experience you already have or how
many skills you already know. Graduates earn Wilderness Native Guide
Certification perhaps the only degree of its kind offered by a certified school.

A new session begins with each Melting of the Snows.

This past year has given me a better sense of my abilities and place in the natural
world than I could have ever imagined. The natural realm has embraced me with
my weaknesses and strengths and shown me how I fit into Earth Mothers divine
scheme of relationships. I look at and feel the world around me in a very different
and much more calm light.
Nick Gale, 99 student
To have the space and subtle guidance to learn of our Earth Mother has been a
gift to me. To learn about one's self; to grow and work on personal goals in the
beautiful Northwoods while learning the tangible skills of a community where
respect and kindness are entwined in our communication is a unique and
powerful experience.
Kimberly Wilson, 00 student

Prospective Seekers,
Many of you who are drawn to the Wilderness Guide Program have a deep yearning to
become the native person you are intended to be. You might be radically frustrated with the state
of civilization. Or you could have romantic notions about the beauty of primitive living. This is
good it shows you are coming alive.
It also breeds expectations, such as the one shown by this question, After completing the
course, will I be able to survive alone in the forest? I want to take a moment here to be frank -there is no one who can teach you to survive in the wilderness in a one-year period, alone or
otherwise. No native group would send a year-old child into the woods alone and expect him to
survive, much less thrive. After a year in the woods, you will not be that much different than that
native infant in wilderness living experience. In one year there is no way to become the
proficient generalist that a native has to be, mastering flintknapping, hidetanning, bowmaking,
trapping, foraging, hunting, lodge and fire making, food storage, direction finding, etc., etc.
Even if you could learn these skills in the year, you would still eventually die because
they are not the most important ones. If you can't live with yourself -- if your mind drives you
crazy, if your addictions keep driving you into town, if you can't get over your loneliness long
enough to find fellowship with your plant and animal relations -- it doesn't matter how many
skills you know. If you can't forecast the weather, if you don't know how to combine wild foods
for sustaining nourishment, if you can't become the Deer so you know her moods and passions, if
you can't take care of your own cuts and infections, you will not last more than a season. These
are the real skills that will allow you not only to survive, but to thrive and be happy. Only
someone who has actually lived in the wilderness knows this and can teach this.
It has nothing to do with how many civilized accouterments youve gotten rid of. A
plastic bucket, for example, can be easily replaced in the wilderness when there is the time to
make a rawhide bucket. However, the critical skills you have not learned cannot be easily
grasped when under stress, freezing, undernourished, or afire with fever from intestinal parasites.
For any and all reasons that draw you to the Old Ways, I encourage you to learn how to
really live in the wilderness. If you settle for just learning some skills you will end up not
knowing yourself, and if you try to live off of the land you will end up back in the city in a short
while, disillusioned and depressed. You need to learn how to reawaken your senses, how to use
your intuition, how to listen to the guiding voices around you, how to understand the language of
the animals. You need to unlearn so much of what has been dumped upon you. And then you
can start relearning the native ways of "being as a question" and giving in order that you can
receive. After a year you will then be able to continue learning on your own so that you can fully
gain all that you need. You will no longer be dependent on books and teachers. You will be selfmotivated, self-confident and independent.
This is why here at the Teaching Drum our concern is not that you learn how to make
every possible wilderness nick-nack or have bragging rights to lots of skills. We are here to
facilitate your growth in awareness of yourself, your fellow humans, and all of our relations.
Words can barely begin to capture what you need to understand in order to bridge the gap
between your civilized understanding of the Old Ways and what the Old Ways really are. When
I was your age my elders would get frustrated with me because I was so cock-sure I had
everything figured out. They let me fall on my face time and again, and I finally found humility
and could then listen. What they gave me -- and what is also your birthright -- needs to be felt,
experienced and lived in order to be known. Words can only dance around it and give it a little
tease. In order to know what it is to be an Eagle, you have to spread your wings and fly.
Tamarack Song


Our Nishnajida is the living skin of the Mother, we live by showing Honor and Respect in
these ways:

We prearrange our visit so that we are expected and welcomed.

In order to keep Nishnajida a place of Trust and Balance we keep it free of domestic
Animals ("pets"), weapons, and psychoactive substances. Those of us who are
addicted to legal drugs are discreet in their use so as not to rub the sensitivities of
non-addicts and addicts who are in the process of releasing the addiction. (Please
do not leave cigarette butts on the ground.)

We pack out whatever we brought in that is inorganic or not quickly biodegradable.

We use no soaps and shampoos, if you do, please use biodegradable products and
take care to wash and rinse on high land at least 50 paces from lake or bog.

We gather Firewood and Birchbark from dead and down Trees, leaving standing
deadwood untouched. This helps preserve the pristine character of this Land and to
leave undisturbed the feeding and denning/nesting sites which these old Trees
afford. Any living Plants or Animals are gathered only with staff approval.

In order not to alter the Lifeways of the non-Human people who live here, we do
not feed them. We keep the camp area scrupulously free of food scraps, and we
hang all food not sealed in glass or metal containers. So as not to send out
unintentional invitations to others, such as Bear and Chipmunk, we meticulously
clean up food spills and burn or dispose of, rather than com post, food scraps.

We have much Respect for the power of Fire, we ask the sharing of His gifts only in
designated areas.

When gathering anything from Firewood to berries, we are careful to leave enough
in a given area for others.

Our footwear has shallow treads and no heels so as not to erode the trails.

We get staff approval for our tent sites, and leave them in better shape than we
found them .

We swim, canoe, and go on extensive hikes with a buddy, and inform a third person
of our plans and anticipated return time.

We chip in on camp chores, such as Firewood and edibles gathering, cooking, and
cleaning up.

We pee off the trail and away from camp, in different spots each time so that Plants
are not dam aged. (Porcupines will chew off the bark of a Tree which has been peed
on). We either practice Da'i or take dumps in pit latrines only.

We keep craft debris in one place by doing our craftwork in a designated craft area.

We keep bicycles and other wheeled implem ents out of the Nishnajida environs.
Bicycles are parked just off the road and out of sight at the trailhead.

Above all, we are understanding and respectful of the space, Lifeway, and views of other
People, whether they be Animal, Plant, or Mineral

Forest Flu, Montezuma's Revenge, Drum Disease (as it is affectionately known here) - a
few of the many colloquialisms for the gastrointestinal affliction that besets some who
camp or travel abroad. There have been a number of cases here at the Teaching Drum
and many of us will be exposed elsewhere, so the School offers these guidelines to help
keep us from getting infected or spreading it.
Causes vary from quick onset (a couple of hours) and a few hours duration at one
extreme, to slow onset and a duration of one or more weeks at the other extreme, with a
few cases having chronic symptoms that linger for months. Lab tests haven't been able to
identify the cause of the Teaching Drum cases. It's likely that, because of the range of
duration and symptoms, that two or more different organisms are involved.
Anyone with a com prom ised immune system (HIV positive, CFS, etc.), or who has a
physical illness which could be aggravated by Forest Flu is advised to seriously consider
the risks before visiting Nishnajida or any other area of exposure. This risk may be
reduced by bringing your own food and boiling all eating utensils. People with AIDS, unless
clear on the need for such an experience, ought not expose themselves. Young children
seem to be at greatest risk, yet they recover quickly. A couple of adult cases here, and
cases elsewhere, have been initially quite debilitating and return to normalcy was slow.
The following guidelines are based on input from health professionals and our own
research and experience. They are intended for Nishnajida as well as for other appropriate
applications. Following them religiously will greatly reduce, if not eliminate the incidence of
Forest Flu.

Eat simply and lightly, one-half to two-thirds of norm al. Overeating dilutes stomach
acids which could normally destroy harmful bacteria. Overeating also does not allow
time to adjust gradually to the local microbes. The severity of bacterial disorders is
determined by the amount of bacteria ingested. One could eat small amounts of
contam inated food on an em pty stomach and be unaffected while another who ate a
larger amount on a full stomach could become quite ill.

Boil or treat all lake water used for drinking or preparing food.

Boil or Fire sterilize com mon cooking utensils.

All cooked food, including leftovers and that which is precooked and packed in,
needs to be heated thoroughly by being brought to a boil immediately prior to

Use seamless metal cooking utensils, not wooden ones.

One person per meal serves food.

Use only the common cooking or serving utensils to dish out food, not personal

Do not eat from the com mon cooking or serving utensils.

Do not eat directly from cooking or food storage containers, or put your personal
utensils into them.

Use your own eating utensils, bowls, cups, plates, or canteens. Do not share them
with others.

Plan for NO leftovers and do not return unfinished personal portions to the cookpot.

Store water containers and all pots and utensils up high so that they are not
contaminated by the soil or rain splash.

Do not share com mon towels or rags.

Because long fingernails, along with finger, ear, nose, tongue and body rings or
'studs' become havens for microorganisms, consider eliminating them.

Do not use com mon washing or "slop" buckets.

Personal bowls and utensils are probably safe to wash in lake water if allowed to dry
thoroughly and if they are set out in the Sun or are Fire sterilized.

The ideal food cooking and preparation area is dry, acidic, and open to Sun and the
elements. Cook under shelter only when necessary. The more acidic an
environm ent, the more sterile it is. Natural acidifiers, such as pine needles, make
good ground cover in food areas.

If you develop Forest Flu, you may want to consider fasting for one or two days to allow
your body to eliminate the offending organism(s). Be sure to drink plenty of pure water to
replace losses from diarrhea and to help flush your system.
The physical manifestations of illness are often the voices of our natural wisdom, calling us
to a deeper awareness of the source of illness and our personal path of balance and
healing. Many of us who contract Forest Flu do so because we are already out of balance.
Let others know of your predicament - it may be that there is someone who can share
their wisdom, knowledge, and presence with you. Some persons here may be versed in
healing m ethods which m ay be of assistance in restoring balance. Listen to your bodies
wisdom - you may be given guidance (perhaps contrary to that of others present) which
will guide you.
Those who have had Forest Flu may continue to harbor the organism(s), so out of respect
for others please continue to follow these guidelines.
Sym ptoms may persist in some beyond normal recovery time because food sensitivities
keep aggravating the intestinal tract. Experiment by eliminating a suspected food from
your diet for a few days.
And of course, consult a physician if you feel the need to, or if your symptoms persist.



The following suggestions are meant to give you a head start on

acclimating to the North Woods and will allow you to be more
To help you adjust to being outdoors, begin sleeping cooler at
night starting as soon as possible before arriving. If you usually
sleep with 3 blankets, sleep with 2. This will stimulate your
metabolism to function more efficiently, keeping you more
comfortable outdoors.
Consider washing all the clothes you intend to bring with you
without detergent at least once before you leave (if possible).
This will help you to attract fewer mosquitoes and other critters.
You will also find it useful not to wear or use scented personal
care products (aftershave/ perfume, soap, deodorants, etc.) for
the same reason as above.
Gradually cut down on your sugar and starch (bread, pasta, rice,
potatoes) consumption. If you are a big eater you might want to
consider eating slightly less in general.
Necklaces and dangling/hoop earrings carry further risk as they
may catch on twigs in our dense Forest.

Temperatures in the North Woods can range from 30 / - 90 / in the

Green Season to -30 / - +40 / in the White Season.