The River of Life

This week began our exploration of American writing, starting a number of works by American Indian authors.  A running theme in all the pieces we looked at is the obvious deep connection the Native Americans have to nature and the importance of this relationship.

I was particularly taken with Oren Lyons’ essay ‘Our Mother Earth’.  Lyons believes that animals and humans are ‘brothers’ and that we are all connected.  As such we have a duty of care to speak on behalf of all living creatures and the Earth.  We need to care for the Earth just as the Earth cares for us.

In his essay Lyons recounts a trip to Geneva, where he spoke at an United Nations forum. While the world cries out for human rights for all, Lyons message was simple: ` What of the rights of the natural world?’.   We are the parents of our planet. If we do not take responsibility and amend the wrongs of the past, the future generations will pay the price.

“The environment isn’t over here. The environment isn’t over there. You are the environment” –  Chief Oren Lyons.


This may seem kind of cheesy, but while reading ‘Our Mother Earth’ a certain song popped into my head and it’s still there days later.  Composer Stephen Schwartz provided the lyrics for the songs in the Disney film ‘Pocahontas’. While the film itself is terribly flawed, some of the Native Indian philosophy regarding nature is evident in the song `Colours of the Wind’.



Broadway actor Judy Kuhn provided the singing voice of Pocahontas.  Here is `Colours of the Wind’ from the movie.



I am looking forward to exploring more American Writing this semester, leading up to the study trip next year to New York City as we explore the literature and drama of the city.


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