Today will be a day for the Ojibwe to remember
To the Editor:
Today, Jan. 27, 2012, the Gray Wolf will be officially delisted as an endangered species for the Great Lakes area including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The wolf plays a cultural, historical, spiritual, and traditional role to many Native American tribes throughout the United States. One of the largest bands of Native Americans located in the Great Lakes area is the Chippewa or Ojibwe. I feel the delisting will be detrimental to my tribe, along with the Gray Wolf itself.
According to Ojibwe oral history and legends, after Earth's creation it was man's first responsibility to follow the Creator's instructions, walk the earth and name all living things. All plants, animals, rivers, and so on needed a name.
The Creator sent the wolf to keep man company while on his journey. During their travels they grew close to each other and treated one another as brothers. After they named all living things, man and wolf were forbidden to keep their friendship and were ordered to go their separate ways.
It is legend that the destiny of the wolf will be the destiny of the Ojibwe people.
What side does the social media in American culture play on people's beliefs towards the wolf? As children we grew up reading about "the big bad wolf" in a few different stories including "The Three Little Pigs" and "Little Red Riding Hood." Today there are movies such as Barnyard Animals that portrays the wolf as an enemy to farmers and farm animals. The wolf is shown as a terrifying animal, with red eyes, sharp claws and teeth, destroying the farm and family that lives there.
The media can have a tremendous effect on the opinions of readers and viewers.
Wisconsin newspaper articles and several recent online articles are supporting the federal de-listing and describe the probable guidelines of hunting rights on wolves. The wolf has been protected federally on the endangered species list for many years. This will be the second time the Gray Wolf was delisted in Wisconsin the previous attempt was in 2004. They were put on an emergency re-listing after a short 19-month trial due to the adverse effects land owners and hunters had on the wolf population. How many times do we need to make the same mistake before we learn from the wrong decision and move forward?
Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are lucky to have a total wolf population of two to three hundred within each of their countries. As for North America, the United States has a total of about 9,000 in comparison with Canada having more than 60,000.
What does this say about the Gray Wolf and its natural habitat? The Gray Wolf is beginning to thrive in the Great Lakes area. Minnesota has a population of about 3,000, Wisconsin has fewer than 800, and Michigan has fewer than 700 total. The numbers are irrefutable.
The Gray Wolf is no longer considered an endangered species in the Great Lakes area since the recovery goals have been met (over 4,000 total). We need to continue to see the wolf as an endangered species as long as it continues to struggle to survive. A wolf's main food source is deer, rabbit, beaver, and other animals. When a pack is forced to hunt a farmer's livestock, it speaks great volumes to what the real issue is. The animal is struggling to survive in its natural habitat and certain people have a low tolerance level toward damages it causes.
According to the current policies held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, problem wolves are to be handled with a simple phone call by the land or pet owner. Reimbursements are paid for any damages caused by a problem wolf, advice is given to discourage the animal, and lethal action can be taken by the USFWS, on the rare occasion that the same wolf repeatedly caused damages.
Why is it necessary to give hunters the power to control the wolf species? It is not our right or a privilege to be killing such a timid and endangered animal. There hasn't been a single report of a wolf attacking or killing a human within the last century.
Hunting the animal for pure sport and collecting it as a big game trophy is not a goal of the Ojibwe people, nor will it ever be. If we cannot use every material from an animal that is hunted we do not kill it. Wasting meat or food is forbidden, we use furs for ceremonies, to trade or keep warm, the bones of an animal are used as tools or worn as regalia. A traditional medicine man would also use the blood, teeth, etc., for healing purposes. Watching the slaughter of this majestic animal will have a negative spiritual effect on our culture and future generations to come.
Though the population of the animal will be monitored for the next five years, hunting privileges are also being awarded throughout the Great Lakes area. How will the federal government monitor the animal and ensure it remains at "sustainable levels" if their livelihood is being threatened before the animal is even delisted?
Today, Jan. 27, 2012, will be a day to remember for the Ojibwe, tears of sadness will rain down from my ancestors as I fear the Gray Wolf will perish.
Lac du Flambeau