"Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf."
Aldo Leopold 1949
From times long gone, the Indian has always looked upon himself as one with the natural world, and in particular, the wolf, whose innate intelligence closely resembles man's.
Early on, the Indian recognized his brother's exceptional ability to survive in the wilderness, and set out to closely study the wolf's hunting habits.
The more time spent in observing his brother, the closer their bond became, and soon, many of the wolf's other characteristics unconsciously became imbued in the Indian himself.
The Indian could, like the wolf, appear and disappear, among others, without being seen, and the Indian's long, staring glance, otherwise seen only in wolves, made their kinship a certainty.
Taking on the wolf's characteristics was a boon to Indian hunting, but with the onset of Europeans to the new world, it became a tragic drawback.
Fresh from the 'old country' where the hatred of wolves spawned tales like 'Little Red Riding Hood' and 'Werewolves', settlers were quick to see what they termed a 'savage similarity' between the Indian and the wolf.
Preachers warned about 'these beasts' from the pulpit, and encouraged their elimination until killing an Indian was regarded as no more than killing a wild animal.
Both the Indian and the wolf were often shot on sight, but the wolf faced even more cruelty.
The settlers devised 'tallow balls' in which fish hooks would be imbedded in the tallow. These balls were left with animal bait, and when a wolf ate one, the wolf would die of inner haemorrhaging.
It was not long before the wise wolf headed west, close on the heels of his two legged brother.
On the Plains, during the Golden Years, both Indian and wolf flourished, especially among the hunting tribes of the north.
Stories of wolves, wolf clans, wolf societies and spirit wolves are too numerous to mention, but here are a few….
The Nunamiut Eskimos believe that the wolf's howling was the wolf's way of talking to the spirit world.
That the wolf was a guide to the spirit world, was a very ancient idea held by many tribes.
The hand sign for Pawnee signified a wolf. This tribe set the wolf in the sky as a red star, red being an honourable color. The wolf was put in the sky as a red star, to provide protection for the evening star of the Evening Star Ceremony.
A certain Cheyenne shaman was greatly revered by his people, because he claimed to have received his power from the howling of a wolf.
The wolf was highly regarded by all Indians for the wolf's fierce loyalty to his family, and extended family like the crow and the raven, who fed off the wolf's carrion.
These characteristics, which were highly regarded in Indian society, did much to endear the wolf to the People of the Plains.
It has only now been discovered, in these times of carefully planned re-introduction of wolves, that when a wolf pack loses a member in death, a six weeks period of mourning follows.
All the fun loving games wolves play cease, and the entire pack lays around in silence.
Few know of the human like devotion of wolves, and those who do know, are often reluctant to admit it.
Like his Indian brother, the wolf is making a comeback.
Isn't it time that we let him?
Grandmother Two Bears.
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