Jon Young – Seeing through Native Eyes
English | Size: 175.85 MB
Category: Native American
Understanding the Language of Nature
Because they lived close to the land, native cultures the world over spoke the language of their place. They had an intimate understanding of plant and animal lifestyles. They knew how to move with grace and ease through the wilderness.
Seeing through native eyes means immersing the senses in the natural world and discovering heightened spiritual awareness and a sense of belonging.
Cd’s cover awareness basics, tracking, plants and wandering skills, ecology and natural communities, trees and survival, and learning the language of the birds.
Tape One, The Basics, lays down a foundation from which we build a structure to support the teachings and our understanding. The tape opens with Jon giving the Thanksgiving Address. This first teaching, having come to us through the Mohawk Nation of the Iroquois Federation, is a technique used to draw everyone’s minds together as one, to remind us of the important things in life, to focus our attention away from ourselves onto those around us and to a place of wanting to work for community. The Thanksgiving Address is one of many techniques drawn from around the world that are part of the Wilderness Awareness School “bundle” that teaches us how to get along better with each other and nature. Nature becomes the lens through which the human understands Life and, as Jon states, “learning nature teaches us how to be human; it teaches us how to love one another.”
After discussing an exam he developed to test people’s native and ecological knowledge, the Tourist Test, and how predictable the results were, even to a group of Environmental Educators, “people who are supposed to know these things,” Jon introduces some core routines to gain back your Native Eyes: having a Secret Spot, Journaling, practicing Sensory Awareness, using the Thanksgiving Address, and creating a place indoors for you to study nature. Jon reveals that, “the native people had a culture based around learning about their place; learning of their natural world and their place in it; how they fit into their own society and how they needed to respect elders; how they needed to look after the ones that couldn’t look after themselves. They learned a lot of this from watching the animals.” Everywhere Jon stresses learning about your region.
The tape concludes by encouraging you to learn about some Hazards specific to your area; plant, animal, insect, environmental, etc., and gives advice in developing common sense in training others in the outdoors.
Tape Two is called Seeing Through the Eyes of a Tracker. What is tracking? Certainly it is more than just looking at impressions in the ground! Jon discusses the seven arts of tracking and gives advice on how to start learning about the mammals in your bioregion and how to track them.
Tape Three is called Seeing Through the Eyes of a Wanderer. Drawing upon the contrast between what our culture and modern life are asking of us with the wandering lifestyle of a hunter-gatherer, Jon calls our attention to what we have lost – an intimate and dynamic relationship to our land and the plants that grow around us. Encouraging us to answer the call of the heart and to develop our intuitive navigation skills by wandering without agenda will develop the “wandering mind” and connect us further with the land. He passes along practical tools for getting to know Poisonous, Edible, and Useful Plants and gives tips to develop an intuitive sense of direction.
Tape Four is called Seeing Through the Eyes of the Elders. This tape discusses the power of holding a vision for the future to leadership and to the building of community. Revealing the wisdom of the Medicine Wheel from the concrete to the abstract, we are led to understand the medicine wheel as symbolic of the circle of life. Each of the six directions is symbolic of a particular archetype or energy or feeling. This is one of my favorite tapes because it explains so much about Wilderness Awareness School and how they approach education. (Of course, you have to know where to look). Wilderness Awareness School has set up their curriculums and even this tape series according to the six directions because of the power of that model. Native teaching methods were built into the ceremonies and stories and daily life. So it is with this tape series. Jon tells the story of the Peacemaker with its many levels of understanding and reveals the lessons of Peace, Unity, and the Upright Mind. He concludes this tape with a discussion on quality of life and encourages us to teach children about the good things about nature because they already get a lot of bad news about it.
Tape Five is called Seeing Through the Eyes of the Forest. In all the tapes, Jon stresses the importance of having a mind free of that distracting voice in our heads and the need to be present in all situations, especially one of survival. This tape is about just that; how to learn the trees, what the priorities in a survival situation are, and the development of a feeling of peace and of being at home wherever you are.
Tape Six is called Learning the Language of the Birds. This tape, though, is about more than just the Language of the Birds because it is also about instinct and spirituality. Holding the North East position on the Medicine Wheel, this topic represents the integration and assimilation of all the other teachings of the wheel. It is a place of intuition and instinct. Jon discusses the five voices of the birds, which birds to focus on and why, and how understanding bird language teaches us about the forest, other animals in the forest that we don’t see, and about ourselves (and the attitudes we hold in our minds that we project around us).
Native peoples had an invisible school where their children learned about their place through songs, customs, traditions, ceremonies and the like. Leaders and Medicine People were seamlessly cultivated through the community, and there was a cultural bond for each other and the land that they inhabited, cared for and loved. This tape series attempts to heal our loss of Native Eyes by giving us a direction to walk towards. The model of the medicine wheel ties the teachings together and the lessons learned become lifelong wisdom. Stalking Wolf, who mentored Tom Brown, who mentored Jon, once said, “I can give you knowledge, but I can’t give you experience.” With so many weapons of mass distraction constantly around us, we must be strong-willed and focused to put in the “dirt-time” needed to learn these ancient lessons. We must also be role models for the culture we wish to see in the future – a culture based around nature and place.
Wilderness Awareness School is doing an incredible job of cultivating Natural Humans by training Trackers. Tracking, of course, is more than just looking at footprints and it requires a wide range of intimate ecological knowledge to recognize complex patterns to interpret the tracks. It is true environmental education. Very few people are training children today to really see and to use their senses. As educators, we need to see so that we can observe and know. After all, science is based in observation. We need the ability to see so we can point our children in the right directions, and the Native Eyes Series is a great place to start developing our awareness. I highly recommend this tape series and I recommend checking out some of Wilderness Awareness School’s programs, especially the Art of Mentoring, and Tom Brown’s School.