We humans are intimately connected to the earth, both physically and spiritually. Every deer, trout or grain of wild rice we take is cause for celebration and gratitude.
For Fred Ackley Jr., a member of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community of Mole Lake, wild rice represents that connection most firmly. But one doesn't have to be a member of the Chippewa tribe or even an American Indian to appreciate Fred's words here.
He speaks about his love for tradition, the land, his community, and forces greater than himself.
I submit that all true outdoorsmen also embrace those same feelings and that sense of gratitude for what we harvest from the forests and waters.
One doesn't have to be religious or overly sentimental to appreciate what Ackley is talking about here.
He's really just talking about life and gratitude. Certainly that is something that hunters, fishermen and foragers appreciate whenever we go out into the wild with gun or bow, rod or basket.
When they (human beings) have a tendency of separating themselves from the earth, they think we're separate, but we're really part of the earth. You can just walk on it. You have that luxury.
And concludes with this fine statement of a conservation ethic;
One thing about the resources I had to learn was, only take enough of what you need for your own need, your own use. If you take anymore, if you're lucky and get more than what you need, you're suppose to give that to other people. Share throughout the year. That way, you respect everything and always the thought of only take what you need. When you do that, then you're respecting everything on earth. Your life is a lot better that way, I believe, by doing that.
Wild rice, or manoomin, is the link of connection to nature and conservation for Fred Ackley Jr.. What is it for you?