Instigating North America’s eco-renaissance
- A report from Earth Vision, by Josef Graf

The end of the cattle industry looms now, as overly-manipulative agriculture practices continue to degrade beef herds. At the same time, there is taking place a resurgence in bison numbers, in tandem with a perspective that holds reverence for the bison’s principle shepherd and guardian, the wolf.

In terms of the spiritual ecology of human nature, it could be said that the aspects of the soul within us that strive for qualities of endurance, vigilance, stamina, and vigor are arising to counteract the destitution of the mass-meat industry.

The depletion of the land through non-organic processes, plus the depopulation of the prairies, have set the stage for the inevitable return of the most fitting animal populations, with the bison holding the center of the eco-region. Thus, “The Buffalo Commons,” or strategy to re-populate and rescue the degraded terrain at the heart of the North American continent.

Averaging 2,000 pounds, the largest mammal in the western hemisphere, bison have the tremendous evolutionary advantage of being adapted to the plains environment. Evidence of its inter-connection with the land on an elemental basis is revealed in an evolved synergy. For example, some of the original prairie grasses can only reproduce by passing through the bison’s digestive tract.

It costs about half as much to raise a bison compared to a cow, while bison meat can bring in almost twice the profit. Bison can sustain themselves on an intact ecosystem without grain or medicinal supplements. On a continuum ranging from feeble to powerful, the position of the bison would register on the high end, in the arena of remarkable vitality. Although still viable in enclosed fields, attempts to contain bison are largely counterproductive (that is, compared with ideal open-range, north-south corridors). This is a migratory animal. Corridors of substantial size will be needed to fulfill the ultimate forum of return.

Part and parcel of this renaissance includes the wolf, which must be restored to its role as shepherd and strengthener of the bison. The slaughter of wolves and the demise of the cattle industry go hand in hand. There is no way around this. Without wolves to complete the tableau, it’s a waste of land and resources to maintain any herd, domestic or wild.

Numerous accounts in natural history reportage depict a feeling of rapture in the human experience of the Great Plains. From the perspective of spiritual ecology this experience can be seen as an inversion, a turning inside-out, of the landscape’s key natural inhabitants.

Beneath the snow, across the broad grasslands of the bison’s range, there sleeps an extraordinary exuberance of prairie green and herb. Though dormant this time of year, the landscape is possessed of an uncommon vitality poised in superb balance. For, on the Great Plains it is too wet for desert, too dry for forest, and thus arises the grass-stalk sea of chlorophyll.

All in all, a biotic dynasty spreads out here. Prairie lends itself to broad vision - in a compendium of ways and meanings. It invites existential farsight and windows to the future.

Despite oppression, First Nations wisdom and vision continue to permeate the substrate, to weave an understanding of eco-sensibility across the land. . . Pawnee. . Lakota. . .Omaha. . . Crow. . .Arapaho. . . names that comprise an earthen phraseology, names that sound as nature-music, prayers rising in pentatonic counterpoint.

And in this arena, where, to the unawakened eye the land appears flat and featureless, sacred places, such as “Pahaku” wait in faultless patience, for their lifeblood to flow again, for their breathing to respire into a vessel for slaking human spirit longing.

Pahaku, and others, endure as retreats for spirits of prairie beings - like earth lodges, where a tale of a boy brought back to life foreshadows a terrain waiting to be reborn. In shamanistic drama, magical animal spirits, residing in a sacred earth chamber,
cure a person of a chronic malaise, or help to mend tears in the social fabric of a community.

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Author's Bio: 

Josef Graf is the coordinator of Insight21 and Earth Vision - presenting answers for the 21st Century.