Monday, May 24, 2010

The Watchful World

Traditional Koyukon people live in a world that watches, in a forest of eyes. A person moving through nature--however wild, remote, even desolate the place may be--is never alone. The surroundings are aware, sensate, personified. They feel. They can be offended. And they must, at every moment, be treated with proper respect. All things in nature have a special kind of life, something unknown to contemporary Euro-Americans, something powerful.

"I remember, when I was a boy, walking alone into a huge, beautiful, darkened cathedral. My entire body was alive with a sensation of being watched--by the walls and windows, the pews and pulpit, by the air itself. Now I have felt that again, but this time when I was traveling alone in the forest.
Perhaps many of us have felt what the Koyukon people describe from their experiences in nature. The surroundings are different, but the sensations may be alike. The ultimate source of these feelings is less important than the fact that they exist, for what each of us learns to be real is completely real, regardless. [Huslia journal, February 1977]"

Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest, Richard K. Nelson