John William Lewin (1770 – 1819)


The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.

John Muir  (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914)



Earth Day

Dronte_The Last Dodo 17th_Century17th-century illustration of a dodo

The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is a bird that lived only on the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Its closest genetic relative was the Rodrigues solitaire, now also extinct, the two forming the subfamily Raphinae of the family of doves.
Mauritius was discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1505 , but it was the Dutch who established permanent habitation on the island.

The dodo had no fear of people and was easy prey because it could not fly. It lived on fruits and nuts, and built nests on the ground.
The name Dodo, is from an old Portugese word, doudo, which means “slow down”.

The first settlers brought animals with them not native to Mauritius.
There were, for example, pigs, monkeys, and rats who plundered the birds’ nests, while men felled the forests where the birds lived.

The last widely accepted record of a dodo sighting is the 1662 report by shipwrecked mariner Volkert Evertsz of the Dutch ship Arnhem.
“These animals on our coming up to them stared at us and remained quiet where they stand, not knowing whether they had wings to fly away or legs to run off, and suffering us to approach them as close as we pleased. Amongst these birds were those which in India they call Dod-aersen (being a kind of very big goose); these birds are unable to fly, and instead of wings, they merely have a few small pins, yet they can run very swiftly. We drove them together into one place in such a manner that we could catch them with our hands, and when we held one of them by its leg, and that upon this it made a great noise, the others all on a sudden came running as fast as they could to its assistance, and by which they were caught and made prisoners also.”

The last known dodo was killed less than 100 years after the species had been found.
Its extinction was not immediately noticed, and some considered it to be a mythical creature.

see also:

The Heavenly Part of the World


If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the  journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural  way of my forefathers and that of the . . . present way of civilization, I would,  for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child’s feet in the path of my  forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian!

From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great  unifying life force that flowed in and through all things — the flowers of the  plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals — and was the same force  that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and  were brought together by the same Great Mystery.

Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a  real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a  brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them. And so close did some of  the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood  they spoke a common tongue.

The animals had rights — the right of man’s protection, the  right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to  man’s indebtedness — and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never  enslaved an animal and spared all life that was not needed for food and  clothing. For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that  kept the Lakota safe among them.

This concept of life gave to the Lakota an abiding love. It filled his being with the joy and mystery  of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in  the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.

The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one  blood, made by the same hand, and filled with the essence of the Great Mystery.  In spirit, the Lakota were humble and meek. ‘Blessed are the meek, for they  shall inherit the earth’ — this was true for the Lakota, and from the earth  they inherited secrets long since forgotten.

We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful  rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth, as ‘wild’. Only to the  white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was it ‘infested’ with  ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people.
Not until the white man from the East came—and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved—was it “wild” for us. When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was for us that the “Wild West” began.

Luther Standing Bear, Chief of the  Oglala Lakota (1905-1939)


There was once a Lakota holy man, called Drinks Water, who dreamed what was to be . . . .
He dreamed that the four-leggeds were going back to the Earth, and that a strange race would weave a web all around the Lakotas.
He said, ‘You shall live in square gray houses, in a barren land . . . .’
Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.

-Black Elk (1863-1950), holy man of the Oglala Lakota, written in 1932

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