Minneapolis

Reviving Ojibwe spiritual traditions, one pet at a time

2021-11-27 09:35:15 –

Cass Lake, Minnesota — Animal laziness was such a problem at Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. Due to poverty and remote areas, many people could not access basic services such as sterilization, and herds of stray dogs could stop traffic. On the main road.

Today, I rarely get lost. Children are helping the elders with the rescue of animals. Pet food and supplies are regularly distributed in the community. Caslake, the first veterinary clinic in Maintown, is the last permit away from the settlement.

It’s all thanks to years of increasingly organized promotion by some community members to improve animal welfare deeply rooted in cultural and spiritual values ​​regarding the relationship between the Ojibwe people and all living things. is.

“It helps animals, but it also raises people,” said Rick Harland, who has led efforts among fellow Ojibwe as a community outreach manager for Leech Lake Reservation Police. “Our pets walk with us.”

Animals are central to the story of Ojibwe’s beliefs and sacred origins.

According to some, traditionally it may only be said when snow covers Northland, but the Creator asked the ex-man and his wolf to travel the earth together, and they On their journey they approached like brothers. Their mission is complete and the Creator has told them to take different paths. Even if they are “feared, respected, and misunderstood” by those who later joined them on Earth.

The story tells because dogs are relatives of wolves. Dogs are today’s indigenous siblings and should be separated but respected.

Therefore, promoting the care of pets and providing the long-awaited veterinary services to the settlements surrounded by forests and lakes strengthens the Creator’s intentions for human-animal harmony.

“Traditionally we were told to thank animals. Cats and dogs chose to be with us and comfort us, but we assimilated and fell into serious poverty. At that time, our story was not told. People forgot that we needed to be taken care of, after performing animal rituals with prayers, songs and drums for them. Elaine Fleming, who started rescue of animals 10 years ago, said.

“We are regaining our culture,” added Fleming, a reach lake band who is now an elder in Ojibwe and a teacher at Leech Lake Tribal College.

Nearly 40% of Lake Reach’s population is in poverty and cannot afford regular contraceptive or neutering surgery, not to mention the hundreds of dollars of emergency medical care for each surgery.

That is, injured animals often die or are abandoned. No one could afford to take care of the puppy and kitten scraps.

Twin Cities-based non-profit Reach Lake Legacy has begun accepting surrendered animals (more than 9,000 to date) to adopt elsewhere, and low-cost mobile clinics to visit on a regular basis Things started to turn around about 10 years ago when I took him to a veterinary appointment. service.

According to Jenny Fitzer, founder of Leech Lake Legacy, the pandemic has brought a setback as care, especially contraceptive castration surgery, was closed for several months in 2020.

“I can’t imagine when I can catch up,” she said, adding that more than 400 animals are on her waiting list and may not be fixed for a year.

However, Leech Lake’s Game Changer is a permanent veterinary clinic, and Harland can start construction before the winter freeze and open its doors in the spring, with national animal welfare organizations and local funding. Will be supported. According to Harland, veterinarians living in the settlement not only take care of regular sterilization surgery, but also treat emergencies. Currently, it costs $ 500 to take a doctor to Caslake.

He envisions information screening in the waiting room and based on awareness-raising programs already undertaken by the community based on best practices such as leashes and kenneling to avoid harming pets. increase.

“I don’t think people care,” said Harland, who owns three dogs and one cat. “It’s education. That’s our way forward.”

Meanwhile, Harland rescued the abandoned pet, drove the injured animal to a distant veterinarian, and in just one year to the new van he got thanks to a grant from the Human Society’s Pet for Life program. I carried 27,000 miles. With a grant of $ 115,000 this year, he was also able to take care of animals full-time.

Rachel Thompson, National Director of Pets for Life, said the community serving from Louisiana to Alaska faces the same challenges. Structural inequality that perpetuates poverty also makes animal care out of reach.

At the end of a recent day spent rescuing a cat, two kittens, and two ten-week-old golden puppies, Harland was clogged with hundreds of porcupine quill that required months of surgery and treatment. The picture of the pitbull was displayed on the mobile phone. , Donated by Veterinary University. The fight against porcupines can kill untrained dogs that are properly housed, braided.

The yard where I found the pitbull was littered with trash, so Harland asked the owner to help clean it up before returning the dog. By the time he arrived early in the morning with members of other tribes, the family was already doing most of the work.

“They wanted to do better,” he said. “We are proud people and have the opportunity to overcome the trauma of the past.”

Eric Ladyx, a scholar of Ojibwe’s history and a member of Ojibwe’s Luck Court Oles band, said that “animals have the same spirit as us,” and their negligence makes all living things. An insult to the spiritual obligation to treat well, and a symptom of broader social distress in poor indigenous lands.

Therefore, the resurgence of animal welfare, such as at Leech Lake, means the revitalization of Ojibwe society, he added.

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The Associated Press’s religious coverage is supported by Lilly Endowment through The Conversation US. AP is solely responsible for this content.

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