field notes ➤ Phillip Deere, 1982

❝ In the beginning we had no teachers, no instructors. We could only copy off nature, and the whole civilization of the Indian people was copied off of a study of nature. So when we hear the birds sing, we never question no one what they’re saying. . . . 

“Why did you bring your leaves in April?” You never ask the trees this. When you hear the lion roar, no one asks the lion what the lion is saying. So we always felt that we are a part of nature. . . .

So what traditions and customs that our people had, they had meanings that’s somewhat lost throughout the years. Education, perhaps, is responsible for a lot of this. Sometimes Christianizing people is responsible for this also, because all this was worldly and had no meaning to the new people that arrived in this country; they were from another culture. So in the short four or five hundred years much of this has been lost, but if we study our history that we call Indian way of life, it’s not that much different in any other race of people. Because I take it that whether he be a Frenchman or Dutchman or whatever he may be, life couldn’t have begun much different, because at one time, they too had no teachers, they too had no schools, had no universities to go to when their ancestors came about. So they were also close to nature. They also studied nature.

I reminded them of that when I was in London last year; I lectured one week there in downtown London, and I reminded those English people that their ancestors, too, had their mind set on nature at one time. Their old buildings say so; the modern buildings don’t tell us that, but the old buildings down the street have imprints of nature on that building. The old furniture has a print of nature on that furniture, but the modern furniture, there is nothing there to remind us of nature. So the old people way back they had their minds set on nature; they had their love for nature at one time. But under the name of progress, perhaps, our people’s thoughts of nature were drained out of them.

Destruction of nature came about the way we see it to this day; that if these trees are in our way, all we have to do is bulldoze them down. There is no love for nature, but in a small way maybe there are certain groups of people that are struggling and fighting to preserve nature; and always the native people had love for nature, they have always had love for what they call Mother Earth. ❞

The World and Way of the Creek People
edited by David Michael Lambeth
(privately published, 1982)

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