What is a Village?

I was paddling around on this old molten glacier, when I realized that the traditional Syilx village on this site was not just the flat along the Vaseaux Lake shore at the right of the image …P1960297… but also the lake itself. A village is for people. Seen spiritually, water is people. So is this:


In this case, the house at the centre of this image has been built around the pictograph on the north-facing slope of the boulder between it and Vaseaux Lake — a remnant from when this area was a German colony in the sun, between and immediately after the world wars. In this case, it is a piece of land set aside for village memory and renewal, although removed now from its role. This, too, is part of the village …


Humans and people are the same, but not always the same. Sometimes people aren’t human at all. Here is Nodding Onion at Tepahlewam, on the Camas Prairie south of Lapwai, in Nimíipuu Country.


This site has been a summer village since before Nodding Onion was admitted into the village, with full privileges as an honoured person and elder. At that time, this was a Mastodon hunting ground.


One person is still remembering the good bones. I’m not jesting here. I think it’s vital. If a relationship to the earth is going to be built that will allow it to thrive, it must be admitted into human social circles, not as humans, but on its own terms. The cliff below, above the ancient village of the lower Kooskooske, at the mouth of Lapwai Creek, which drains the Camas Prairie, is not human, but it is part of the village. It is a person.



The grizzly bear that left these tracks does not have to be physically manifest to be a person, either, or to be a part of the village. Without that knowledge, there is no renewal of the earth. The earth is us. To renew it, humans need to rebuild the village, and welcome their relations back home. Even Paper Wasp, nesting here in a gas bubble in an old basalt flow above the Salmon River.



At the moment, society is here:


That’s not how to treat a sister. That’s how to colonize an alien planet. It’s time to put such fantasies behind us.p1470539


It’s time to come home.


4 replies »

    • I think that the insistence that “human” and “person” are the same is based on rather modern foundations. Even Luther’s father brought back dwarves, or hauntings by them, from the coal mines in which he worked. Perhaps, human=person is a Christian invention, and one which could use some adjustment. It’s ultimately, a defensive move, but to apply it now, in a situation in which the earth is the one on the defense and human numbers are no longer small and vulnerable, is ultimately the same sort of thing as racism. We go own together, if we go down. To say that “human” and “person” are the same, in the context of an earth in crisis, is to say that humans are not of the earth, and will leave, to Mars or to Heaven. That’s not exactly a way in which to care for Creation. St. Francis certainly wouldn’t have stood for it, nor St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and so on. Methinks.

      Liked by 1 person

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