Ainu woman with bear cub. The Ainu revere bears, believing their gods can incarnate as bears to watch over them. In early December, a bear cub would be raised among them, fed and loved. Then it would be sacrificed, using special arrows, so that its soul could return to the gods in the heavens with their prayers.
We clasp the hands of those that go before us, And the hands of those who come after us. We enter the little circle of each other’s arms And the larger circle of lovers, Whose hands are joined in a dance And the larger circle of all creatures Passing in and out of life Who move also in a dance To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it Except in fragments. -Wendell Berry via She Sings to the Stars (Image: Cathy McClelland)
Standing Bear circa 1834 - 1908 Ponca tribe. Argued successfully in U.S. District Court in 1879 in Omaha that Native Americans are "persons within the meaning of the law" and have the right to habeas corpus
“The animals had rights - the right of a man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness - and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal, and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing.” - Chief Luther Standing Bear - Oglala Sioux http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Luther_Standing_Bear.jpg