Duke Redbird, Teachings
Why The Otter is Better Than The Beaver
And other Canada Day lessons with Indigenous elder Duke Redbird
If Duke Redbird could make a suggestion this Canada Day weekend, he’d like to pitch you on the otter.
Every country has a creature that represents its collective consciousness, the Chippewa-Potawatomi elder says as he sits on his houseboat-turned-art installation at the Ontario Place marina. England has the lion, the top of the food chain, the empire builder. India has its elephant, big like its population. And America has its bald eagle, a predator who soars high with arrows in its left talon.
When he gets to Canada’s beaver, he recites a poem he wrote 30 years ago about the animal working all night, transforming a bubbling stream into a putrid pond that the more majestic animals want nothing to do with.
“My child, do not become a beaver and build for yourself a den, this is what modern man does with his brick and stone and sand until his mind is like that stagnant lake filled with weird wicked wretches that get no peace,” Redbird says in quick staccato as he approaches his closer: “Then he cries to his Creator in desperation, please God, my God, deliver me from damnation.” …
The Food Forest
The Seven Ancestor Teachings
“Mother Earth taught us, among other lessons that there are seven principles of good conduct. They are called the Seven Ancestral Teachings and were imparted to us from the seven canopies of food that are found in the Food Forest.
The first canopy are the oldest trees that grow the tallest in the forest and protect all the other plants. Among these tall trees are the walnut, the chestnut, the beechnut, and the maple trees. From them we learn wisdom…