Deer hunting is important for both the individual and the community. Indigenous communities led the way in this ethic.
This is one hunter’s story of how he views and uses the lives he takes in the field to uplift and sustain the life of his community. It could also be the story of every hunter, regardless of ethnic background or community history.
Biskakone Greg Johnson is a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. This brief film “is part of ‘The Ways,’ an ongoing series of stories on culture and language from Native communities around the central Great Lakes.”
Johnson speaks thoughtfully and earnestly about what deer hunting means to him and to his community. He talks about how a harvested deer may serve as something that sustains and strengthens not only the physical health of individuals in the community but also the connection that community has with its history and among its members.
Part of the legacy and mythology of First Nations peoples is the narrative that says wild game taken by hunters was shared throughout the community. That narrative is both accurate and embellished.
While practically all tribal people, of all ethnicities and geographic locations, were community oriented and supportive of their particular community members, it’s also fair to say that that ethos has been romanticized and mythologized concerning First Nations in the Americas.
That romanticization is, in my opinion, acceptable if one doesn’t allow it to obscure the reality of human nature that is consistent in all people of the world.
Our indigenous predecessors and ancestors in this land were no more and no less community oriented than most other people throughout the world, including early European communities. Certainly it is true that indigenous people of the Americas had a stronger reverence, both personally and communally, for the natural world than many of the more technologically advanced European people who came after them.
I think it’s fair to say that the general indigenous attitude that viewed wild game as an object of life giving sustenance for both the individual and the larger family and community, is something we all would do well to emulate.
It’s also fair to say that hunters as whole, of all backgrounds, adhere to and follow this example to noble effect today.
Hunters give an incredible amount of the protein they harvest each year to their neighbors and communities.
In that regard, true hunters – that is, honorable hunters who view the lives we take with respect and gratitude, and who share their harvest to help uplift their fellow humans – are in fact adhering to the example set by First Nations hunters like Biskakone Greg Johnson.