Die On Your Knees or Die Fighting

A pile of American bison bones and skulls, circa. 1870s, amassed during height of slaughter.

Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the late 19th century in the pursuit of 'profit'.  Bison populations plummeted from many millions almost to extinction in less than 50 years. They were hunted for their skins and tongues, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. The US Army sanctioned and actively endorsed the wholesale slaughter of bison herds to allow ranchers to range their cattle without competition and primarily to weaken the North American Indian population by removing their main food source and to pressure them onto the reservations.

Today i read an article by Rafe Mair at The Tyee, titled, 'If the Dollar Rules, Let's Dam the Fraser' that reminded me of the Bison slaughter because it too points out what a powerful and pernicious enemy greed is. Please read it. In my opinion, Rafe's style and historic perspective will lead you, as it did me, to his last paragraph: For those who really care about the environment there is a compelling spiritual argument that deserves our full attention. Salmon and other fish (indeed the entire environment) have a value that transcends commercial interests. We're talking the very soul of our province, and Jesus's poignant question hits the heart of the matter in Mark 8:36. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ...What indeed?

i'm not a christian, maybe i'd be called a pagan or better yet a pantheist, but the message still rings true. What difference is there between the bison slaughter and the slaughter of the salmon, or any species or the very web of life that supports us all in the name of profit, possession and power is the question the culture of 'profit' refuses to answer as it marches collectively toward self-annihilation.

Last week in another moving article, that one by Chris Hedges, titled 'Time To Get Crazy', Hedges wrote, "There are few resistance figures in American history as noble as Crazy Horse. He led, long after he knew that ultimate defeat was inevitable, the most effective revolt on the plains, wiping out Custer and his men on the Little Big Horn." The next few Mud Reports will try to answer  the question "What would Crazy Horse do, if he were alive today, when faced with the destruction of not only the material and spiritual basis of his Lakota way of life but the very underpinnings of the web of all creation?

Crazy Horse remained defiant, he knew back then that his choices - even in the face of overwhelming odds, much the same as our's now - were to die on your knees or to die fighting. His ferocity of spirit remains a guiding light for all who seek to live lives of defiance.