Take from Nature Only What Is Needed
The Anishinabeg, also called the “original people,” have a special relationship with their environment, where they find water, food, medicine, materials to make their clothes and their homes, and much more. They call it Mother Earth. Nature is a sacred place that must be respected and cherished at all costs. They consider themselves the guardians of this earth and their relationship with it is one that is based on humility since it is home to the bones of thousands of generations of Anishinabeg who trod upon it before them. Also, the health of the Anishinabeg is closely tied to the health of the forest. When the latter suffers, the plants they use for medicine and the herbs that nourish the animals they eat become increasingly rare. Mother Earth is a healer. She takes care of all those who would lie on the ground to soothe their wounds.
The Anishinabeg’s relationship both with their environment and with animals is one of mutual dependence. Since Mother Earth is the creator of everything that can be found in nature, they consider animals as their brothers. When they must sacrifice an animal, they thank it and celebrate it with respect. The exploitation of resources is not a concept that exists in Anishinabeg spirituality. From such practices arises one of the most fundamental principles the men and women of the “original people” follow in their daily lives: Take from nature only what is needed.
“Nature is our Mother Earth and she provides us with all our needs. But Man, in his cupidity and his ignorance, takes more than what he needs from nature. Rather than protecting the One who gives life, he abuses her gifts. Nature, until now, has remained patient.”
William Commanda, Grandfather of the grandfathers of the Anishinabeg nation