Standing Bear thinks the difference in how whites and Indians see nature stems from childhood. He believes Indian children are aware of nature because they have been taught to “become conscious of life” and spend time observing the wild around them (9). By seeing the world this way, their love and respect for it flourishes (10). He says this appreciation sharply contrasts to ignorant whites who thoughtlessly play as children, ignoring everything but each other, and grow up disregarding the knowledge nature gives, seeing only what they can use. He thinks whites are bored with nature because they do not have the “Indian point of view” (11). The distance whites have from nature harms their relationship with it and humans, making them less compassionate when they do not see “man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard” (Standing Bear 12).
Similarly, Owens says whites see nature differently because of childhood experiences. Instead of growing up daily in nature, white children sporadically go camping, and thus view nature as a tourist attraction instead of a second home. He states Indians embrace nature because it has a stronger family significance to them that whites do not see. Indians call the Cascades the “Great Mother” because of stories they have heard growing up, and things like this ca...
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...s have led him to think whites will never change and that the two races “[can] not understand each other” (12). On the other hand, Owens has hope for whites because he did not grow up with Indian traditions and he witnessed the U.S. Forest Service protecting nature when he was sent to burn the shed. (11).
Indians comprehend and value nature more than whites and these authors recognize that. They believe the trouble with white attitudes is they do not truly see nature or form harmonious relationships, and whites think they can be separated from their idea of wilderness. Although Standing Bear is critical of whites and believes they will never change, Owens thinks they will if they continue to redefine how they view nature and try to connect with it. Overall, both authors want whites to respect the Indian way of living with nature and aspire to be that way also.
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