Hunting and Natives, thanking and honoring

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Thu Apr 18 14:58:53 MDT 2002

Walter Davis states [on Redbadbear]: "I believe that hunting or other cases
of killing animals can and should be morally justified in some cases but not
on the basis of their

We have no argument at all on this point, Walter. We never will! And, while
again emphasizing that a certain animal -- e.g., Whale or Bear -- has
especial significance in the framework of its specific Native cultural
setting, I point out that, when the respective animal is taken, all  its
meat is eaten and nothing is wasted.  On the general matter of hunting, I'm
personally very critical of people who hunt for trophies -- and I see
hunting primarily as a matter of securing meat in the context of  outdoor
adventure and challenge.

As you know, I grew up in Northern Arizona and Western New Mexico -- very
much in a Navajo framework but with close family ties to many Hopi people
and to a great many people at Laguna Pueblo.  In the latter setting, our
relationship with families based in one particular clan structure was
especially close and we attended many of its functions -- both at the Laguna
villages in New Mexico [near Grants, between  Gallup and Albuquerque] and at
the Laguna colony in the western edge of  the railroad town of Winslow,
Arizona which is about 55 miles east of Flagstaff on what used to be Highway
66.  In the Winslow setting, the Lagunas have traditionally been Santa Fe
railroad workers and their families.  In return for letting the railroad
cross the Laguna reservation in N.M. [based on very old and enduring Spanish
land grant title], the Santa Fe agreed to give hiring preference to Laguna
men in many job categories and it honored its commitment.

In the "old days," the leading, traditional hunter for the Laguna clan with
which our relationship has been very close was Juan Carillo -- who was
one-half Apache [Mescalero/Chiricahua] and the direct nephew of Geronimo.
His father was a Castilian Spaniard who came to Southern New Mexico and
established a ranch and married Geronimo's sister in the framework of the
Catholic Church.  Because of the virulent Anglo hostility directed toward
Geronimo and all members of his family, Juan Carillo wound up being
partially raised at Laguna for reasons of safety -- and, even though the
Lagunas and the Apaches had frequently been antagonists, most Native people
were standing together in those very tough days!  He married into the Laguna
tribe and lived out his life in that setting. He was a tall man and an
excellent hunter.  Juan Carillo, his son Richard, and Margaret Beardsley
Carillo --Richard's wife -- and various others in that and closely related
families were very old and enduring friends of our family. The younger
people are to this moment.  Juan Carillo, very much a traditionalist, hunted
with a Winchester 1873 44/40 lever action and consistently used old-time
black-powder cartridges.

When Juan Carillo killed the first buck mule deer for this large extended
family network -- in the Fall hunting season -- that deer was taken into a
special family place at Laguna, hung in the shade, and decorated
extensively.  Many came to pay their respects and to honor the deer.  In due
course, the women of this clan grouping prepared a massive feast:  the deer,
plus the great loaves of bread via  outdoor clay ovens for which Laguna is
rightly well known, and much more -- including super hot chili.  Our family
attended these very important affairs with regularity.  Once gathered,
certain religious functions would be performed.  Then, the clan grandmothers
would bring in a steaming pot containing the deer's  cooked head, with the
horns sticking well up.  Everyone would be given a piece of the meat from
the head -- with the eyes considered very special.  I was once given an eye
and found it delicious. The rest of the food -- including all of the body
meat of the deer -- was then brought in.  Chili soup, with various
vegetables, had a base of cooked, cracked bones.  Virtually everything
relating to the deer was prepared and consumed. And the deer was frequently
thanked for his signal contribution.

In more conventional hunting situations, nothing was wasted either.  This is
true in all Native tribal nations.

 When I killed my first bear -- a critically important coming-of-age ritual
done as a lone hunter -- I shot an extremely large male black bear down in
the very vast and rugged  Sycamore Canyon wilderness region southwest of
Flagstaff, Arizona.  I used an old Winchester 1894 lever action 30/30 with a
24" barrel. The bear, which we had to pack out in sections over a two day
period [I went back to Flagstaff and got my Dad and an adult family friend],
had a closely estimated [by various adults] live weight of  650 pounds.
Nothing was wasted. [ We did lose most of the hide, the last thing we took
out on the final day, to green October blow flies. We were able to save some
pieces of it.]

The several hundred pounds of bear meat, in fine shape, were totally
consumed over some years. [My mother immediately bought an especially huge
freezer for the Bear.]  I ate very large portions of it before I went off to
the Army -- and I ate much of it when I finally returned. The skull hangs on
my office wall to this very day and can be seen on the very front page of
our large social justice website.  And I wear a bear claw inconspicuously
around my neck.

In Solidarity -

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]  Micmac / St Francis Abenaki / St Regis Mohawk

Hunter Gray  [ Hunterbear ]  ( social justice )
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