FIRST LINES: Nature’s Way – Native Wisdom for Living in Balance with the Earth

Read first lines from Nature’s Way – Native Wisdom for Living in Balance with the Earth

By Ed McGaa, Eagle Man




Lesson of Eagle

Eagle is the symbol of observation. The Sioux consider it to be the creature tat best syumbolizes immense wisdom. It learns from all that it sees. It is the eyes f the all-seeing Wakan Tanka,the Great Spirit, the mysterious unknown entity that created all things. When the Sioux see an eagle flying, they are reminded of Wakan Taka’s observation of their actions—both what they do and don’t do, both good deeds and bad. Those actions are stamped into the memory of time and within your memory and mine, and within the memory of others whom we have helped or harmed. The memories of all those others have “observed” us.


The Sioux believe that lies, deceit, greed, and harm to innocent others will never be erased, and neither will good deeds of generosity and caring. Dominant Society, on the other hand, leans toward the “forgiveness” theory which claims that bad deeds can be purged. Daily life seems to bear out the Sioux perspective: victims do not readily forget horrible atrocities committed against them simply because the perpetrator has somehow been “forgiven”. With greater consciousness of the long-term consequences of human decisions, the Sioux avoid a host of problems. We do not harvest natural resources beyond reasonable need or without replacing them. We do not enter into commitments (such as parenthood) without a clear intention to make good on them. We treat others with dignity and compassion, recognizing that any enemy can become our ally over time. Realizing that we will be answerable for all our harmful acts—at least in the Beyond World, where all have memories—we strive always to be tolerant and considerate.


Nature, with its seasonal parade of events, demonstrates to us that it is both repetitive and consistent. When we go out into Nature and take a walk, when we observe and enjoy the world around us, we know that we can trust and depend on Nature’s actions. We know that although occasionally the Earth will shake, we will not fall off it. Within the boundaries of where they have risen before, the rivers will continue to flow. And only if we live near one of the few active volcanoes will we have to worry about the mountains posing any threat to us; they will continue to collect the life-giving rains and send them down to us. Nature’s beauty is a gift we can enjoy: we might feed a squirrel or just look at one, we might observe a flock of geese or a flight of ducks; we might sit on a park bench or drive a thousand miles  to Yellowstone Park or the Black Hills of South Dakota; we might do a mask and snorkel and put our head under water and look at reef fish , marveling at life in another natural medium. Ahhh! What spellbinding, amazing observation: a joyous, colorful reef!

© 2004 by Ed McGaa


ISBN 0-06-075048-0

You can read the Introduction and selected chapters of Nature’s Way on

NOTE: I would like to mention that I bought this book in 2007 at The National Museum of the American Indian in New York, after spending practically the whole day there. I wanted to carry back home part of the wisdom and sustainable worldview of Native Americans, and this book seemed a good symbol of that as any I could find in the museum shop.

The first lines may not do it justice. Not only is it a great book to read from the beginning to the end, but it is also a great one to just turn to any page and read; there is so much goodness in there. So do enjoy.

And don’t forget to browse the museum collections if you visit the website~ Your Editor 


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