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Wolves: Great Hunters and Scouts

Powerful Essays
Spirituality is a driving force for many humans’ decisions and many Native Americans have found their spirituality in the animal kingdom. Vine Deloria Jr., an American Indian author, stated that, “we get most of our knowledge about the world we live in from our surroundings” (Caduto and Bruchac, XI), and as people of the land, Native Americans were in constant tune with their surroundings. The animals that filled their world taught them how to hunt, to gather, to find fresh water, to warn them of upcoming danger, and many other tasks. These observations were of such importance that Native Americans began to use animal stories as a tool to teach their children values. The same values found in nursery tales, fairy tales, and even The Bible can be found in traditional literature and has been passed on for generations. One animal that was of importance to many of the Northwest tribes was the wolf. By examining traditional literature and scientific information we can see how wolves’ physical traits and ecological interactions are linked to Native American culture.
Wolves were one of the fiercest hunters the Native Americans encountered and many of their traditional stories give homage to this by depicting them with such human traits as cunning, strength, and bravery. The act of giving animals human characteristics is a common theme throughout traditional literature and has been a great tool for teaching lessons about ourselves and individual animals. This process is referred to as anthropomorphism and can be seen in the Klallam tribal story “The Wolf and the Mink.” In this story, tribal elder Elaine Grinnell weaves a tale about the interaction of a greedy mink and a very clever wolf. As the story starts out a very hungry min...

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