Subsistence is part of our Native spirit

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2001

I am appalled by the shallow-minded viewpoint of some of those who write to the Word of Mouth, but none has angered me more than Patrick McGonegal's letter on Aug. 24. The mentality that exists with a portion of the urban population such as his will continue to bitterly divide the state between the rural and urban populations. In order to truly understand the issue from a rural perspective one needs to understand a few simple facts.

Subsistence has nothing to do with the ability to run down to Costco for food and supplies. The subsistence lifestyle has nothing to do with the ability to live off the land. The way of life that has been passed from generation to generation is one of spirituality. It is a lifestyle that is part of our spirit and part of who we are.

To publicly ridicule our Native elders for remarking that they want to live off the land the way their forefathers did is a travesty. Because we chose to harvest and eat the customary and traditional foods of our Native people does not mean that we want to abandon our Americanized homes. We simply want to live and enjoy the traditional food of our people and to have the ability to pass this on to our children and to share with others less fortunate. This is the way of our people, much like respect for other people, especially elders, is the way of our people.

Subsistence is a large part of our spirituality and in essence allows us to remain connected to the land of our forefathers. It has nothing to do with economic need or necessity, but simply the way we chose to live.

Sam Jackson

ANB Executive Committee

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