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The Western world is turning to Indigenous peoples

Una Meistere

13.11.2020

An interview with Pauliina Feodoroff, theatre director, artist, and nature guardian from the Skolt Sámi people

In October the art world received the news that Sámi artists Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara, and Anders Sunna will represent Sápmi, their Sámi homeland, and transform the Nordic Pavilion into the Sámi Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. This is undeniably a historic moment because this the first time that Sámi artists will be presented exclusively in a national pavilion at the Biennale Arte as well as the first time that the Sámi will be recognised as a nation in a pavilion bearing their name.

‘By appointing Feodoroff, Sara and Sunna to transform the pavilion, OCA Norway – the 2022 commissioner of the Nordic Pavilion – aims to draw attention to the excellence of these Sámi artists and the international relevance of their individual and collective histories. Their art emphasises the urgent situation experienced today by many Sámi and other Indigenous peoples worldwide concerning self-determination, deforestation, land and water governance, and specifically for these Sámi artists, the struggle to maintain the reindeer herding and fishing that are central to their existence. The artists reflect upon these concerns by drawing from Sámi ways of being and knowing, producing work of great beauty and power. This makes them extraordinary within the art world of today,’ states the press release.

To find out more about this project, Arterritory.com interviewed one of the artists from the above-mentioned trio – Pauliina Feodoroff, a Skolt Sámi theatre director, artist and nature guardian from Keväjäuʹrr (in the Finnish part of Sápmi) and Suõʹnnjel (in the Russian part of Sápmi). Feodoroff has advocated for Sámi water and land rights in her previous role as President of the Saami Council and as an artist working to combine various fields of knowledge at the intersection of ecological conservation, theatre and film. From 2018 her cross-disciplinary project What Form(s) Can an Atonement Take has used Sámi land-care practices, bringing together local and scientific knowledge to protect the waters and surrounding lands of the Njâuddam River in the Finnish part of Sápmi.

Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman

I was happy to read the news about the renaming of the Nordic pavilion as the Sámi pavilion for the 2022 Venice Biennale. It made me recall the 2017 Venice Biennale, when my good friend Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto made his Sacred Place installation as part of Christine Macel's curatorial exhibition, thereby bringing the Huni Kuin people to Venice. He was highly criticised and pummeled by the art world. Now you will have the Sámi pavilion – do you feel that the art world and humanity in general have learned something since then?

I don't know if it has changed for good, but it has definitely changed. From my point of view, there is a kind of a disparateness with so many different levels of crises going on – the climate crisis, the pandemic, and then this crisis of people having to leave the places where they live because they are not able to live there any longer due to the climate crisis and extractivism... In a way, they all are interconnected. So I think that the whole perception of how the so-called ‘majority society’, or Western society, sees the Indigenous world and Indigenous artists is changing. Because the feeling of superiority that was so inherent, and also inherited, in Western culture has started to crumble. For instance, no matter where, whether at the Venice Biennale or in whatever other context, artists are portraying, for example, climate change, by making sculptures or paintings or photographs of people drowning or people left without drinking water; there's no solution for how we could move forward. I think what is happening in humankind in general now, in different parts of the world, is that people are going back to their own traditions. Because they are seeing that their world is collapsing. The memory of our species is short – it only extends through our lifespan and a couple of generations back. We can refer to our grandmothers or great-great-grandfathers, but further than the cultures no longer oral we need to go to archives and the written word. This memory has been the memory of the so-called ‘civilised world’. And that kind of way of remembering, which is written down, has been based on the thought that everything is new; there's always a new mind, there's always a new invention that comes and saves us, and there's always a new artist that comes and amazes us. But now, when we are running out of the resources that provide this kind of ‘newness’, even Western civilisation begins to lose its trust in a new invention that will come and change everything for the better. People begin to go back to their own traditions, like – what did my great-grandmother say, or what did my mother say about this kind of a situation? What did the closest to my kin say in an hour of need?

I think that the whole perception of how the so-called ‘majority society’, or Western society, sees the Indigenous world and Indigenous artists is changing.

Being a part of the Baltic cultures, you know very well what has happened in recent history – how much intergenerational memory has been wiped out and how big changes took place when people were taken away from the places where their families had lived for generations. In some cases people don't even know who their closest relatives are. So in that situation, somewhere deep inside, you have this feeling – OK, science is doing its best, but I need to get more accurate information, something that I feel to be true in order to understand what is happening, why is our world collapsing and what should I do about it.

After the Second World War, if you look at the Western or the European context, so many answers were sought in science. And it almost seems that the place where the collective memory and the associated teachings sit – which in traditional culture has been within families – has been taken over by art. Moreover, the place where the feelings of intuition and sacredness reside have also been reserved for art. And knowing this, I understand why, after the Second World War, so much of European art dealt with nihilism, the loss of so many millions of lives, and a feeling of soullessness or numbness, however you want to call it. And we have been portraying that in Western or European art for so many decades.

Now it is not only about nation-state crises; it has come closer – to families and individuals. If you see your world falling apart, it's not nihilism that will help you survive. Nihilism just gives you the same kind of substance dependency that alcohol or medications do. You need to have something that keeps you mobile, that keeps you in action, that doesn't paralyse you, and that doesn't make you want to just kill yourself or disappear. So, then you try to go back into your own traditions. It seems that the West is going towards this general archive of grandparents, which is considered to be all of the Indigenous peoples - those who still remember what the role of forests and rivers is in this whole fucking mess and what we should do to reestablish our lost connection with Nature. I feel that this paradigm change happened just within the last year or two because regarding the artworks that were done together with Amazonian artists for the 2017 Venice Biennale, there was still this feeling that the climate crisis was only affecting them. It was along the lines of: ‘You are losing your own jungle or you are losing your own habitat, and yes, that’s so sad, but somehow, deep inside, it is a sign of your own weakness. Cultural evolution has passed you by and we feel for you, but here we are safe.’ But in the last few years this attitude has changed; this false sense of safeness is collapsing. The first warning signs came decades ago from Kalaallit Nunaat aka Greenland and from the Inuits and Yupik peoples: they said – look, the ice is melting and our world is disappearing. It was clear that the damage would not be localised only to that one part of the globe, but Western civilisation didn’t want to understand that. Western civilisation also didn’t want to understand that the world’s natural resources belonged to all of humanity and all the living things, that it was not just for them. The Inuit claims were ignored and the money that could have been used to restore their habitats has been used to greenwashing. It was not used to stop what was coming for the whole of humanity. And now, when we’re facing this situation of extinction, the Western world is turning to Indigenous people and asking – could you please tell us how to stop this destruction from happening?

And now, when we’re facing this situation of extinction, the Western world is turning to Indigenous people and asking – could you please tell us how to stop this destruction from happening?

Could you give a quick characterisation of the concept behind the Sámi pavilion? All of the artists represented come from different Sámi regions. How are you working together?

I think what is happening here for the first time is that Katya García-Antón [Director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, lead commissioner of the Nordic Pavilion – Ed.] has spent many years thinking about this idea and the right context considering the worldwide calls for decolonisation, and is not just putting us there as tokens or representatives of our own individual art. Of course, art is our methodology, but apart from that, Katya García-Antón has created this environment that involves epistemology – we have all been able to invite and to communicate with elders or people who represent the older generation. For instance, Anders SuNna has chosen to work with a Sámi lawyer because he is basing his work on a 50-year-old ongoing struggle with the Swedish state in which his family is involved. Struggle is not the right word because it's a battle, a war – they have been excluded from the basic rights of ownership of their reindeer and of having a safe and healthy life.

CO2lonialNATION at the Giron Sámi Teáhter. Directed by Pauliina Feodoroff. Mural by Anders Sunna. Photo: Ilkka Volanen, 2017

And Máret Ánne Sara, who is deeply rooted in reindeer herding (her whole family works with reindeer herding), has chosen to work with Káren E.M.Utsi, an elder who is a sister of her grandfather. Utsi may not be closely following the Venice Biennale, but she knows whatever you may need to know about using bones or hides, as well as about the reindeer themselves. She also knows what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within reindeer herding going art.

I myself am collaborating with the great scholar Asta M. Balto. She and I frequently talk about how to be a human being.

Apart from that, there's the group of co-curators consisting of Sámi scholar Liisa-Rávná Finbog, who have been researching or studying the arts, and Beaska Niillas, Sami nature guardian who as a young man decided that he will never wear anything but the traditional clothes of the Sámi. He's a fisherman, hunter and activist who is dedicating his life to help the Sámi communities thrive and continue OUR way of life. Katya García-Antón has also been creating workplaces for Sámi within the Office for Contemporary Art Norway and has taken in so many different actors, for instance, Sámi production company Forest People, who have done short introduction movies about our process.

With the amazing work she is doing Katya García-Antón is creating the whole environment – not only a physical environment, i.e. the Sámi pavilion, but a mental environment in which none of us is alone. We are given the possibility to create the space among ourselves – not only to tell our individual and collective histories but also to be constantly in dialogue, both with the Anishinaabe society [a group of culturally related Indigenous peoples resident in what are now parts of Canada and the United States – Ed.] and the Aboriginal people of Australia. The 22nd Sydney Biennale this year has brought together a whole network of different Indigenous artists and we are trying to use that platform to multiply and magnify not only what we are doing, but how we are doing it. It would be so easy to say that in the current situation, also from the Indigenous point of view, that you decide to not participate – to not communicate with the West any longer. I still don't have an answer for myself regarding why I've chosen to not stop communicating, why I still choose to participate. It's a really complex issue but it is connected to the fact that it seems that the thing that so many people have been talking about for years – that free movement is going to be a rarity and a luxury reserved for the few – is now coming true. This context of art is giving us the opportunity to still do something together and be heard. It is only a very small group of us who are highly privileged, has this mobility and has these communication channels that span across the oceans so that we can speak with different Indigenous artists, artist groups, curators and land caretakers. I don't have answers to any of my questions, I felt that somehow it was important to not reject and step away from that process. I don't know why.

We are given the possibility to create the space among ourselves – not only to tell our individual and collective histories but also to be constantly in dialogue, both with the Anishinaabe society and the Aboriginal people of Australia.

This was a long explanation, but that is the concept – that all three of us have our own artistic freedom within the pavilion space and our own autonomy to create. But at the same time, we are in a deep dialogue with one another because we knew each other before this and we know something about each other's struggles.

CO2lonialNATION at the Giron Sámi Teáhter. Directed by Pauliina Feodoroff. Actors: Sarakka Gaup, Elina Israelsson, Mio Negga. Photo: Ilkka Volanen, 2017

You once said that the terms First Nations and Indigenous Nations mean that a certain group or people have a special, very specific knowledge of one particular part of the land, a knowledge that has been gained through living on that land for a long time and the dialogue that’s been had with that land. How would you characterise the Sámi relationship with the land – do the Sámi still have this knowledge or is it already partly lost?

I come from the group that is from the Kola Peninsula, and we lost almost all of our traditional lands due to nickel mining. And not only were we removed from the land, but the acid rain has literally melted even the stone there. It has done such great damage to our lands. Not only on the Russian side, but also along the Norwegian coast of Kirkenes and the mining there. These are our traditional lands and my whole life has been just trying to survive after those great losses that happened to my grandparents; and they are still affecting our society. We lost our lands, our properties, and our reindeer, and we lost so many of the people. There are very few children born into our society, the language is partly lost. So there has been a list of losses. In a sense, it's is a miracle that some of us still exist, speak the language, and continue with our traditional livelihoods. It's a miracle that some of us are still functioning. Although this fate has not been met by all Sámi societies, I feel that we are a warning or a sign from the future that this can happen to them and others as well. So, don't let these things happen to you and please listen to us, especially now in this race of who gets to have the last remaining metals or the last remaining clean water, clean air, and space to live in. It means that no Sámi societies are far away enough to be safe, even though there are very strong Sámi communities who still speak the languages and have a lot of children, and have clear waters and the ability to continue the reindeer-herding way of life. Every Sámi society is under threat, but we are not facing an existential threat coming from the inside – the threat is coming from the outside.

Pauliina Feodoroff during the salmon rewilding project on the Näätämö River in Arctic Finland. Photo: Stina Aletta Aikio

You were leading the salmon rewilding project on the Näätämö River in Arctic Finland, thereby illustrating that there is a possibility for partnership between Indigenous knowledge and Western science on environmental questions. What would you say is the greatest achievement from this project, and what lessons did you learn from working on it?

One of the greatest achievements has been that this autumn reports from our scientific partner, Snowchage confirmed that around 130 new spawning sites that were created within an area of four kilometers have been successfully established. The trout have accepted it and there is a lot of spawning going on in the river right now. It means that a destroyed habitat has been taken back and reclaimed. The biggest lesson is that it proved the concept of ‘neo-nature’ to be possible, which means that if you restore something, it will regardless never be the same as it was before the damage – it is something new, i.e. neo-nature. And this neo-nature has been created, as you said, by combining science and traditional knowledge. The best science is being done there, and it's very close in its perceptions to what the traditional knowledge-bearers are saying. It's like they are confirming each other. They are not against each other – they are filling in the gaps for each other. It confirms that if the people who are doing very hard-core natural sciences accept the hard-core traditional knowledge observations and deductions as an equal – if there is equal collaboration and equal dialogue – they can work very well together.

Consequently, another great lesson has been that you can recover from very deep shit. You can recover from very great damage that has occurred – not only yourself, but your community and your land, too. And those instances of damage are all interconnected. If you have something that is very much damaged, it's never your individual burden – it is always connected to your surroundings, to your whole family, and to your land. And it is possible to make neo-nature of that, it's possible to make neo-nature within your own family, and it’s possible to make neo-nature within yourself. It is a life-long commitment to start repairing this damage and it is hard and slow work, but is something that needs to be done. Because this damage doesn't just disappear by itself; you cannot dream it away, you cannot psychologize it away. There will be no invention that can just fix nature, and there will be no time machine that will bring us back to the year 1930 so that we can do everything differently. So that kind of individual and collective work needs to be done and it is doable.

If the people who are doing very hard-core natural sciences accept the hard-core traditional knowledge observations and deductions as an equal – if there is equal collaboration and equal dialogue – they can work very well together.

Of course, when we are dealing with military nuclear waste, which is also a part of my legacy and part of the legacies of so many post-Soviet areas, we just need to leave those areas to rest in peace. They need to recover – maybe a thousand years or something like that, but the stone will grow back. Even the stone will grow back in time. And also the poisons will sediment after a very long time. But each instance of damage needs to be very specifically examined and studied, and sometimes the best cure for something is to just leave it be. But there is so much we can do for our surroundings.

Does that mean that each part of the land has the ability to regenerate, the only question is that of time?

Yes.

Speaking about this dialogue between Indigenous knowledge and Western science, at the moment many think that this is the only solution for how we, as humans, could survive into the future. Do you agree?

Yes, I strongly agree because when we started to split the atom (and many kinds of damage are invisible to the eye), traditional knowledge didn't have answers for that because the cultural knowledge that's been gathered over thousands of years does not include splitting the atom – we had never done that before. It’s the many scientists who have done these things that know best what has taken place. So that kind of collaboration is needed. As you may know, I've been collaborating with the Snowchange Cooperative [the Snowchange Cooperative is a network and scientific organisation dedicated to documenting and preserving the traditional ways of life and knowledge of Indigenous cultures, specifically in the Circumpolar North but also across the world – Ed.] a lot, especially with Tero Mustonen. It is no secret that in the art world there's a lot of shit art and there's a lot of good art, just as in science there's a lot of not-good science as well as very good science; and the same holds true among traditional knowledge-bearers. And it's not about prestige, but about who is able to really crack the problems.

Regarding the collaboration that we have done in my native surroundings, it has been the Snowchange Cooperative that has been able to bring in scientists who have been able to address the specific damage. We had a fortunate situation in that there still are people within our community who were able to have a dialogue with those specific surroundings and who had a variety of different kinds of knowledge. I think that scientists are able to look into the ‘invisible’ things, but what traditional knowledge is able to do and what, unfortunately, has already died out in some places, is the ability to have direct communication with the land. They are able to tell, for instance, what is the will of the place, or how we need to do this or that task. I think that a dialogue between science and traditional knowledge-keepers is the only way that this process of dealing with the damage should be framed. This is the only solution going forward.

I think that scientists are able to look into the ‘invisible’ things, but what traditional knowledge is able to do and what, unfortunately, has already died out in some places, is the ability to have direct communication with the land.

Do you personally still have this ability to read signs in nature? I know that your father, Vladimir Feodoroff, is still working with reindeer and is involved in traditional salmon fishing.

There was no space for me to continue with the reindeer. I do have a reindeer mark, and we still have a traditional fishing hut. But it's obvious that I'm more detached. I have been travelling around the world and working within art rather than pursuing a traditional livelihood. So it is very different; the skills that I have are very different from those of my father, who is a reindeer herder, hunter, and fisherman. But I think that this sensitivity to seeing and connecting with nature is not culture-bound – you have it and I have it. The question is how much we are aware of it. For instance, how precisely you can read the signs of oncoming weather, how skillful you are with animals, etc. Someone is a hunter, somebody helps the animals, while somebody else is able to help society by helping the people. Each of us has a different role. I'm such that I'm not able to orient myself in nature – I get lost every time and my father could never understand it. Like, how is this possible that you get lost everywhere? If I am in a big building, I also get lost there. It is a sign not only of my detachment but also that my brain works differently. While my father sees a big landscape and navigates it, I get lost in a small detail.

I think that nature also works in a way that it gives you the skills which are needed. And my society and those lands have needed an advocate during my lifetime. Nature gave me the skills to be able to travel around the world, to speak many languages, and to come back and help create answers to protect the nature. But I'm not the one who is giving that knowledge – I'm the one who is connecting, and that is also a traditional skill. Traditional skills are not only about how to read the river or how to foresee that a storm is coming in two weeks. I think there is also a shift in time taking place, for instance, I come from a family that are reindeer herders and hunters, but I myself am not able to kill an animal. For a long time I saw that as a sign of damage, whereas now I have come to believe that now our knowledge of how to keep something alive is needed more.

I think that nature also works in a way that it gives you the skills which are needed. And my society and those lands have needed an advocate during my lifetime.

In the book The Archipelago of Hope, which tells the story of your community as well as others, you are quoted as saying that throughout your life you had been taught to think about yourself and your people as damaged. Your childhood was surrounded by death: your mother and father carried a recessive gene for a very rare genetic disease, nonketotic hypERglycemia, which led to four of your brothers and sisters dying, and you were even told that you had fewer nerves cells in your brain than Finns. The key word of your early years was ‘extinction’. What was it like growing up with this hanging over you? What have these hard lessons told you about life, humans, and the world in which we live?

The answer is – it was quite stressful. It’s not that nice if you're treated like a zombie and everybody is telling you that you're going to die out very soon. I was just a kid, for Christ's sake. In healthy societies, as children are growing up they are promised that they will have a great life ahead, that they will live to be very old, and that they will have children of their own. In my case, this is how I saw it: You’re going to die and you will not have any children of your own.

It’s not that nice if you're treated like a zombie and everybody is telling you that you're going to die out very soon.

My parents lost three children before me – they died straight after birth. My younger brother died when he was seven. He was severely handicapped because of this very specific genetic disease. My mother took care of him and me and my older sister, and we learned how to take care of him as well. He died at home. When somebody is saying to you, as a child, that you are going to die out very soon, and there’s this atmosphere of having a dying boy in your home, obviously that means that this is going to happen to you as well. It has taken many decades for me to understand that I am healthy. I'm not dying yet. And when I took the genetic tests later on, I found out that my genes are perfectly healthy. There's nothing wrong with me. But this kind of indoctrination is very hard to unlearn, how to find one’s self worth – and it has not been metaphorical, it has been very concrete. It is not only about genes – we live in a hierarchical world where some groups are seen as trash. If one group dies out, it is not all that important; new masses will come along in its place. In a hierarchy like that, a cultural group like ours is seen as a replaceable mass of bodies – nobody gives a shit if I and my heritage disappear. It’s not like in the case where there’s a whole nation weeping about the queen's grandson leaving for America – oh, how tragic [sarcastically]... Or praying that Queen Elizabeth lives on for another hundred years. Some families are seen to have great value while some are not even seen to be families – they are just trash.

We live in a hierarchical world where some groups are seen as trash. If one group dies out, it is not all that important; new masses will come along in its place.

Speaking about the word ‘extinction’, in a sense, the human race as such is currently heading in that direction. Do you think it's too late to change the course that we’re on, or do we still have time? 

I think that there will be great losses; for some species, regions, or ecosystems it is too late. But for life in general it's not too late, and we should be placing all of our energy, all of our attention on starting to undo the damage. And also start preparing the mental work necessary for that. Yeah, it's painful to lose something that you know. It's painful that we might lose, for instance, winter; coming from an Arctic culture, that is very painful. Maybe we will even lose the reindeer. But we cannot become paralysed worrying about that; we are, however, allowed to mourn for that, be sorry, or even upset. But we cannot become so paralysed or so depressed that we are not able to do shit. The shock that comes from such large losses, as well as the collective depression that comes from such losses, makes some people act in a very unhealthy manner. We are seeing escapism or aggression, as in – we’ll just take over somebody else’s place or whatever.

I think that there will be great losses; for some species, regions, or ecosystems it is too late. But for life in general it's not too late, and we should be placing all of our energy, all of our attention on starting to undo the damage.

I think that the greatest collective and individual challenge in the upcoming years will be how to stay sane through all of these losses. How to work and act in a sane way that won't cause more destruction and that won't be a catalyst for total chaos; how to be a responsible adult that also takes care of others and not only ourselves and our closest kin. Being part of a group of people that have been removed by force, I know that leaving your land should always be the very last option. Because if you leave your own land, you are leaving behind possibilities for coping and surviving. You come to be in the hands of so many uncertainties and in the hands of others. So, stay home and try to make that home as livable as possible.

‘We do not have a national state. And still, we do not want one. We already have our own ways of being. Just let us be,’ you once said in an interview. The notion of the multinational state is in crisis now, especially in this time of the pandemic. Many are struggling to find a new identity. How do you see the future of nation-states?

I think that these almost-five-hundred-year-old systems are collapsing. Especially the super-states. The Soviet Union has already collapsed and I think there will be a transformation of going towards smaller units. People wish to have power on a more local level; they want to be able to decide on their own lands. They want to stay in the areas in which they live. If the world goes in that direction, there will be a positive future. Of course, it can turn into a negative future in which we go back into some kind of a dictatorship. The power of a few is very violent regarding having control of the resources that are still left, but I really hope that we will use this time to decentralise the current systems of power.

The salmon rewilding project on the Näätämö River in Arctic Finland. From left to right: Jouko Moshnikoff, Janne Raassina, Juha Feodoroff, Petteri Feodoroff, Raimo Moshnikoff, Pauliina Feodoroff. Photo: Stina Aletta Aikio

Your father said that you should always thank the river and the lake for the salmon. That's also what Indigenous Amazonian communities say – one should always say ‘thank you’ and always ask for permission, whether it be a jungle or an ocean that you wish to enter. Many of us in the West have forgotten this – we are used to just going in and using, be it a forest, river, lake or ocean. 

When you think about giving thanks, it is not just a word that says ‘thank you’. When I do something and say ‘thank you’, it is not just a line or automatic reply. If you are giving thanks, it means that you received something and that you are in debt. In traditional cultures the concept of a gift means that if you are a real person and not a vampire, you do not simply receive gifts and that’s it; every time you are given a gift, you have to somehow keep things in balance – you have to give something back. In most societies, the way we give and receive gifts if very organised; we know the exact rules and expectations of how it should be done.

When I do something and say ‘thank you’, it is not just a line or automatic reply. If you are giving thanks, it means that you received something and that you are in debt.

But when it is nature that is giving you a gift, how can you reciprocate and give in return? You must take care of the gift giver. When you have a traditional livelihood – be it reindeer herding, hunting or fishing – it is very obvious that so many things could go wrong and lead to the losing of the whole herd or not catching a single fish. Everybody who hunts or fishes knows that. If you are just doing these things for recreation, you can always go home and eat something else. But if you're living off of that and you are not catching anything, you immediately start thinking – what is happening, what is going on? You have to figure it out – why is your catch, hunt, or reindeer herding not successful?

Of course, there are traditional ‘land-keeping’ and ‘water-trading’ practices – very concrete ways of how to give back. For example, you give back to the river the bones of the fish – the bones will become a source of food for the young fish living there. In the case of the forest, in the old days when you slaughtered an animal, the insides of the belly were given back to the forest. It was a way to nurture the land and make the biomass more rich.

If the river is still giving you fish, it's your duty to give back. These sets of very strict rules that come from traditional cultures (and which is how I was taught to interact with the river) ensure that the river stays clean, that it is not overfished, and that no harm comes to it. Giving thanks means that there's a bond between the two parties. It is a two-way bond that always carries an obligation if both parties are to survive.

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