I picked up the spring issue of the West Marin Review in Point Reyes.
Mark Dowie writes a scintillating essay called The Fiction of Wilderness. He asks questions like what is nature and what is wild?
Native peoples felt the two as one. We tend to separate.
Mark Dowie writes of Thoreau's astute observations, then, continues:
"Despite that exceptional observation (Thoreau's), the idea that humanity is something apart from nature remains deeply rooted in the western mind, which also retains the doctrine that man holds dominion over all other beasts. Taming the wild, both in nature and themselves, became a fundamental aspect of the New World's manifest destiny. By contrast, indigenous cultures that have remain isolated from Judeo-Christian influence continue to see themselves and their cultures, as they always have, deeply embedded in nature, and nature even more deeply embedded in themselves and their cultures. They and nature are so inseparable that if the "n" word appears in their language or their cosmology it is as a cultural concept, internalized in their very being, not some space outdoors, beyond the walls of their community.
We Westerners still revere nature as place rather than cultural concept, a place to commune with the rest of the animal kingdom, at a safe distance, of course - a place to discover ourselves and perhaps even the meaning of life. Bertha Petiquan, the Ojibway matriarch, would not be offended by that use of land or nature. In fact she'd be pleased by any reverence for either. But she would tell you that in her language the closest term to what we regard as nature would be nishnabe ak, which translates literally as "the land to which the people belong." In the Ojibway mind and Ojibway law, it can never be the other way around."
Here is Robinson Jeffers with his view on the subject.
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine
beauty Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. —As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
- Robinson Jeffers