Greetings, they call me Mimiges Brownroad. I am Mi’kmaw and I live on our traditional lands, close to the coast. I follow both our cultural teachings as well as alternative ecologically-conscientious ways of contemporary society. I see these as the Red Road and the Green Road. Together, they are my Brown Road and along it I walk.
I have been to enough grassroots gatherings, First Nations conferences and environmental discussions to have heard my Indigenous brothers and sisters describe our historical cultural philosophies about respecting the land, calling her our Mother Earth. I love these teachings and am happy to repeat them, share the philosophies with others about sharing the territory with other animals and plants, finding a careful balance between our human needs and the needs of our Mother. I love going for a trek on the land and leaving thanks at the mouth of the woods, stepping gently along my path, learning from watching the smallest of critters and elements mixed in the soil, and laying in the moss with heavy dreams.
However, my respect for Mother Earth does not stop at how I enjoy nature and how I speak about needing to live in balance. I make choices everyday that act on this commitment I speak of. It is not enough as Mi’kmaq to say that we respect the Earth; we must become everyday warriors in our homes. We must think of her as a priority when we calculate what we buy, how we use up fossil fuels, what we put back into the land as waste. These are all direct components of our ecological footprint on the Earth. We can not ignore how our habits are further degrading ecosystems around us. It is our responsibility to make good on our word, to take the stand each day as we put her in our decisions.
I would like to start writing to you regularly, to share some stories, ideas and considerations about how we can make healthier decisions for the Earth. I believe that there is a great marriage between our cultural teachings and contemporary environmental thoughts. Let’s together find the way.
Let me start with an example
I eat fish. I eat moose and deer. And I eat free-range hens’ eggs. None of these foods come from a factory, but from the free-range lands where they had lived out their lives under the sun and moon, breathing the air that pushes across Mother Earth. I limit my household to eat only wild meats/fish or free-run foods (such as eggs, dairy, or meat from chickens and cows on small farms where the animals are allowed outdoors and comfortable grazing).
Red Road: I do not need to tell you statistics about factory farmed animals. You know the stories in your heart. We hear the stories and pictures on the news documentaries. There are too many animals, crowded, who are given antibiotics and/or growth hormones. Cows are attached to machines too long. Hens cannot move too far and never see the sun. Each of these animals were born into Creation to share spirit and move on Mother Earth as kin. We have forgotten our sacred responsibility to allow each animal a dignified existence and be part of the Earth. When we need them to offer their life as food, then so be it. The moment to take its life is a sacred time as the transfer of life happens. Take a look around the grocery store and ask yourself what life these animals had and if you want to be a part of that system or not.
Green Road: The huge land areas for raising cattle does not seem healthy to the land itself. I have walked near a large cattle farm and witnessed the hectares of mud, with no trees or plants growing for long distances. I also consider there are too many toxins going into the animals, as growth hormones and antibiotics. Some of our meats are actually transported from far distances, wasting fossil fuels and adding to pollution rather than the local origins of wild animals and foods from small local farms.
Personally, I feel healthier when I eat traditional foods. I rarely buy fast-food or cheap foods. It is my priority to put more money and time into better foods. I have less money for some other things, but this is my compromise and commitment.
Unfortunately wild animals are not clear of toxins, that is the reality in our world of 2011. However, fishing and hunting, should not be adding as much to the great environmental destruction we are witnessing and contributing to. In this way, we are constantly trying to find the “least worst” answers to ecological and health issues around us.
I know that we are busy folk in contemporary life. However, I want you to consider the moment when you know your Earth Walk is ending and as you reflect back on your life, will you be proud of how you spent your hours and days, or will you consider that you could have upheld your traditional sacred responsibility, instead of part of the system of toxins and loss of dignity to the winged, four-legged and finned?
When it comes down to it, all we really have is relations, between others and the land. Let us walk the Brown Road in good relations and choose as our ancestors would if they were choosing today. And I will see you on the trails, my friends.Tags: ecology, grassroots, nature