John Elliott (STOLȻEȽ) is my uncle. He is a beautiful story teller.
He generously shares the stories of the W̱SÁNEĆ people. His stories of creation, transformation, and relationships, describe a connected world. But, his connections are not digital, they are analog.
Indeed, his stories capture his audience. They are an invitation to explore an ancient perspective that is greatly needed today. Especially, as we try to make sense of the culture rapidly evolving around us.
Increasingly, people share with me their desire to disconnect digitally and reconnect with their world. They yearn for analog connections.
So, people hang on every one of Uncle John’s words that illustrate intimate interactions between the animate and inanimate, in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory. They are captivated by the notion that we are all related, whether we be fishes, trees, islands or humans. They accept the responsibility he have to look after each other, as if we are kin.
You look after them…
When I tell his stories, it is like running a vinyl record through a soundbar. I lose the pop, crackle and perfect imperfections. But, I do my best to capture the message.
It is about how we relate to the world around us.
In our culture today, humans dominate. From our perch high a top the pile, we owe nothing to anything. We are the most intelligent species, and every other one is subordinate, and in our service.
The W̱SÁNEĆ worldview is the opposite. Humans are one part of the web. Not at the top, we are somewhere in the middle. No more, or less, important than anything else.
As XÁLS, the Creator and Transformer, moves through the territory turning humans into the plants, animals and important places, he reminds everyone, to look after each other because we are all relatives.
“You look after them, and they will look after you!”
They are our sisters and brothers. And, we share a responsibility to take care of each other.
If we operated by this W̱SÁNEĆ maxim, would we ravage old growth forests with the same voraciousness? What about the salmon? How would we value all the other species? How would we use the land and water?
This agreement (You look after them, and they will look after you) is the foundation of a sustainable and resilient culture. A culture whose values are more than just the cash that we can extract from the life-sustaining ecosystems around us.
Certainly, when we look after the salmon as we do our children and grandchildren, they also look after us. And, this can be applied to everything.
As we grapple with habitat loss, a decline in biodiversity and species extinction due to our actions and decisions, Uncle John shares an old and beautiful teaching. It’s a teaching that transforms us, and how we relate to the world we live in.
He invites us to disconnect from the digital, and plug back in with the analog.