Connection with Nature
Native Americans have a remarkable connection with nature. They see and hear things that common white man would not. The trees and the birds communicate with them to show them signs for their benefit. This connection is depicted in the books The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter and Walking the Trail by Jerry Ellis.
In The Education of Little Tree the connection to nature is taught to Little Tree by Granpa and Granma. Living in the mountains, these Native Americans relied on nature to survive. The grandparents taught Little Tree the different signs provided by nature; they used these signs when planting and harvesting their crops. If you lay a broom sedge crosswise on a watermelon and it just lays there, the watermelon is green. But if the broom sedge straw turns from crosswise to web logs, then you have got a ripe watermelon (Carter 142). Little Tree also learned The Way, meaning that if you take only what you need nature will continue to provide. For example, when hunting deer, you do not try to take the best. You take the smaller and slower so the deer will grow stronger, always giving you meat (Carter 9). This family also knew the patterns of the animals. When Granpa and Little Tree took the hounds tracking the fox, Granpa shared his knowledge of the foxs patterns with Little Tree. Granpa said he liked to slip up on Ol Slick when he was cantankerous and not in the mood for trailing. When a Fox wants to den up, he will use ingenious tricks to throw off the hounds (Carter 25). When Little Tree is forced into an orphanage, he and his grandparents use nature to communicate. Each night they watch the Dog Star and share remembrances and pictures (Carter 189).
While walking from the capital of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma to his home in Fort Payne, Alabama, Jerry Ellis spends months strengthening his connection to nature in the novel Walking the Trail. Before he set out on his journey, Ellis demonstrates his already established connection with the nature he is familiar with. I go outside and walk to the garden. I dig my hand into the soil and raise the earth to my nose. I swear Ill remember the smell till I get back home (Ellis 10). Ellis looked to the birds for guidance. After seeing buzzards feast on a deceased cow, he recollects how the Native Americans saw the buzzards. Some Indians did not view the buzzard is a sign of death. On the contrary, they saw it as an omen of healing because it could eat the diseased without worry of infection (Ellis 66). At night Ellis finds comfort in the event of an owl, feeling safe as he drifts to sleep. Ellis accumulates a walking stick that connects him more closely with the earth and the trees from which it came. Nature guides Ellis to himself, helping him better know who he is, and what he wants (Ellis).
Both Forrest Carters The Education of Little Tree and Jerry Elliss Walking the Trail thoroughly demonstrate the connection of the Native American to nature. Their lifestyle along with their natural instinct make this connection possible.
Carter, Forrest. The Education of Little Tree. New York: Delacorte Press, 1976.
Ellis, Jerry. Walking the Trail. New York: Delacorte Press, 1991.