Artist’s Statement: Inde Ma’iingan (Heart of the Wolf)

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Leah Yellowbird: At the time I painted this piece, the wolf hunt was legal in Minnesota. Tribes were opposed to wolf killing and were working to get the wolf back on the endangered species list so that wolves would not be killed for sport or any other reason. I felt like people did not understand that to kill wolves would be to upset the delicate balance of nature. We as humans think we are on top of this delicate balance, and we believe we can control it because we are the smartest. As Ojibwes, we know that we were the last to be put on the earth and, therefore, are very slow learners. Regardless of the season, all that the creator put together here must stay in balance—in harmony. If just one thing changes—for instance, taking more wolves away from an environment—everything from the smallest of beings to us as humans would change. The tiniest of strawberries would cry at this loss. To put a target on any living being is to destroy us all. Peace and harmony is the only way to honor the creator.
Melissa Lewis: This magnificent piece by Leah Yellowbird is an important representation of our article in this issue1 in several ways. Leah captures what we know as Native science by demonstrating ecological relationships. Native science should, and does, have a place in university classrooms, and our team worked to open up that space in a medical training environment. Improving the health of Indigenous people includes valuing an Indigenous worldview equally. Leah demonstrates Indigenous values learned over many generations, including time- and place-specific activities related to land and water, which are ultimately related to the health and well-being of Indigenous, and all people. In our lectures, we taught medical students about the seasonal rounds of local tribes, including ricing, hunting, fishing, and sugar bush so that students would see the relationship between Indigenous values, activities, and health.
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