As I mentioned in my last post, last night our family went to the home of friends of ours, to mark the fact that their 12 year old son, along with this boy’s cousin, had both taken their first caribou this year. After a meal of all this land and water provides, including caribou, moose, bison and wild salmon, there was a small ceremony and gifts were given to the two boys to help them continue to provide for their families and communities.
One of the boy’s fathers told a story handed down to him from his own grandmother: when it is time for us to leave this earth, and as we walk along the path to meet the Creator, we must first walk past every single animal we have killed in our lifetime…every gopher, every grouse, every caribou, even the smallest of creatures. That is why we must always treat these animals with respect. We must only kill them if we are in need of food. We must take great care when cleaning the meat, treating it with the reverence it deserves. We must always remember to give back to the land as a way of showing gratitude, because if we just take and take and never give back, then the land will start taking something from us, and we may not like what it takes. We must always leave tobacco on the land as a way of saying thank you, and we must share the meat with all those in need.
While the grandmother has been dead for several years, there is no doubt in my mind that she was there last night, with a smile that lit up the whole room.