Fire / Feu


Un point de vue autochtone traditionnel sur les déchets et la consommation

Dès leur naissance, on enseigne à nos jeunes que ce que le Créateur a créé est parfait et que les être humains ne peuvent pas améliorer les travaux du Créateur.

À cause de nos valeurs traditionnelles, nous n'avons pas pratiqué de consommation ostentatoire et nos nations ne pouvaient pas produire de déchets inutiles de toute sorte. À titre d'exemple, on nous a enseigné qu'après avoir tué une forme de vie quelconque pour notre nourriture, nos abris ou nos vêtements, nous devrions montrer notre respect pour cette forme de vie en utilisant toutes ses parties et de n'en rien gaspiller. 

On nous a également enseigné que pendant notre passage sur terre, nous devrions agir comme l'aigle en vol qui ne laisse rien dans son sillage, aucune trace, aucun déchet, ni aucune pollution.


A Traditional Indian
Understanding on Waste
& Consumption

Dan Ennis
Tobique First Nation
December 2002

t the time of Indian-whiteman contact (1492), our homeland (Turtle Island*) was a paradise on earth. There was no air, water, or earth pollution - no depletion into extinction of animals, fish, birds or humans.

(photo of Eel River Bar: NB Images)

At that time, our people were taught, from conception, that what Creator created had been made perfect and that as human beings we could not improve on the works of Creator. We were taught that we should respect Creator’s work and that we should always show and express our gratitude for what Creator has created.

As a result of our Traditional Teachings we did not/could not practice conspicuous consumption nor could our people produce unnecessary waste of any kind. We were taught to live in balance and harmony with Mother Earth and all of her creations.

We were taught that all of Creator’s gifts - Mother Earth, animals, fish, birds, insects, water, air, anything that grows upon the great mother - has a spirit and is sacred and should be treated as such. We were taught that if in order to survive we needed to kill something - trees, animals, fish, birds, insects, water, air, anything - that we should first give thanks to whatever life form we had to kill in order to survive. We were taught that after killing a particular life form for food, shelter or clothing, we should show our respect for that life form through consuming and/or using every bit of that life form and not wasting anything from it.

(photo: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

We used everything and what was not used or consumed we knew would be biodegradable. We knew that it would go to feed some other living thing, be it animals, birds, fish, insects or Mother Earth. One example would be the deer, where all of the meat was consumed and/or utilized, the brain was used for tanning hide, and the stomach and bladder etc. were used (after being cleaned) for carrying and storing water or other liquids. As well, the antlers were used as part of ceremonial dress, the hooves were used for glue and the hide was used for garments for warmth and ceremonies.

In place of classroom education, our people received traditional teachings. Our traditional teachings were a way of life and they were a natural lifetime process in our lifelong quest for wisdom as opposed to knowledge. Our traditional teachings include the beliefs that we are all related and should always love one another, that we should live in balance and harmony with all of creation, that the Earth we walk upon is our Earth Mother and she is sacred and she should be treated as such, that every step upon her should be as a prayer, and that we should, throughout our Earthwalk, keep within our heart respect for all of Creator's creation, including respect for ourselves.  In this way, we produced intuitive (of the heart) traditional medicine elders, as opposed to intellectual (of the head) physicians.

We didn’t see a need to educate our people as a way of producing intellectuals and/or scientists who in turn could "discover" better ways to exploit, degrade, pollute or otherwise kill of Creator’s creation, including our earth mother.

(photo: Musquash MPA Campaign)

We were also taught that, while on our Earthwalk, we should be as the eagle in flight who leaves nothing in its wake, no tracks, no waste nor pollution.  This was in contrast to how the immigrant newcomers erected all kinds of manmade edifices as monuments to their gods, our people were not that arrogant. Our monument to Creator’s work and creation was to leave the Great Mother and all that lives upon her as Creator made it: perfect, clean, pristine and beautiful.

* North America