Wolves and Indians began as kindred creatures,
both highly social beings that lived off the hunt
and depended upon ritual to keep order. The two
hunted together and their spirits touched...
By Jon Van Zyle
It's not surprising that the Indian saw the wolf as a
significant animal. Both were hunters of which the
survival of their families depended. The indian was
very aware of the many ways in which his own life
resembled those of the wolf. The wolf hunted for
himself and for his family. The wolf defended his
pack against enemy attack, as the indian defended
his tribe. He had to be strong as an individual and
for the good of the pack. It was a sufficient system
of survival; and in the eyes of the indian, no animal
did this as well as the wolf. The indian worked to be
as well intigrated in his environment, as he could see
the wolf was in the universe.
The wolf fulfilled two roles for the indian: he was a
powerful and mysterious animal, and so perceived by
most tribes, and he was a medicine animal, identified
with a particular individual, tribe or clan.
At a tribal level, the attraction to the wolf was strong,
because the wolf lived in a way that made the tribe
strong. He provided food for all, including the old
and sick members of the pack.. He saw to the education
of his children. He defended his territory against other wolves.
At a personal level, those for whom the wolf was a
medicine animal or personal totem understood the
qualities that made the wolf stand out as an individual.
For example, his stamina, ability to track well and go
without food for long periods.
The definition and defense of home range was as
important to the Indian as it was to the wolf. The
boundries of most Indian territories, like those of
wolves, changed with the movement of game herds,
the size of the tribe and the time of year.
The tribe, like the pack broke up at certain times
of the year, and joined together later to hunt more
efficiently. Both the wolf and the Indian hunted
the same type of game and moved their families
to follow specific game herds.
Deer sought security from Indian hunters by
moving into the border area between warring
tribes, where hunters were least likely to show
up, just as they did between wolf territories,
where wolves spent the least time hunting.
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