Why North Winds Wilderness School

People are very busy these days, and slowing down or stopping in our tracks all together  sounds like a bad joke to many of us. However, People want to reconnect to nature, they want to possess a meaningful connection to the earth. We have developed a way for people to have both.

Many rewilding or primitive skills schools require long-term commitments or long travel times. We run our programs close to the Twin cities to give everyone equal access, and we run our programs either on weekends or evenings, so that you can fit these very personalized experiences into your time budget.

Our idea is very simple. People need to be reconnected to the earth. They want that sense of place and of belonging. 21st century America does not leave much room for ideas like that. Building your awareness and mindfulness will immediately offer you a different perspective. You will see that we are all connected and that we are all a part of the food chain.

A Sit spot can mean all the difference in the early stages of rewilding. it puts you in the world of the birds, and the deer, as an observer, unnoticed in the background. It teaches patience and lets you see first hand how nature works. Practicing meditation in any form can help you increase your mindfulness, and your presence in the present. This will increase your sense of awareness without having to do anything else. Tracking is an ancient art form that puts all of your senses and awareness to the test all at once, and forces you to live in the moment. Having basic survival skills will give you a sense of peace and confidence unknown to most modern people. Finally connecting to the skills and lifeways of our ancestors brings to the forefront of our attention how connected everything is meant to be, and what humans went through to get us to where we are now.

Rewilding does not have to be an all-encompassing life style. For some like me, it is a passion and a life style. Everyone must pick their own sense of wildness. If you have given up the modern world in light of a hunter gatherer life style you are a rewilder. If you work in down town 9-5 and live in a high-rise, but you want to reconnect to the Earth, so you spend your weekends camping and studying nature, then you too are a rewilder. This is not a club, and there are not rules. You just need a calling, or a sense of need to be a part of nature.

hand drill evey

 

Open House!!!

fish rockDo you know what rewilding is?

On November 7 at 6 pm we will be hosting our first annual winter open house. We will serve wild crafted goodies, and display some of the subjects that we teach. We will hold discussions and offer demonstrations. If you have ever wondered about what it is that we do, or wanted to be a part of it and weren’t quite sure, this is your chance to get in on something free and personal. These little get togethers are always fun, and super laid back. We usually get 1:1 time with each person who comes through. If you have a craft or project that you are working on, maybe we can get a craft circle going. Come on down and check it out. See you there!

Long Term Classes

Etrayu Bow

There are so many options out there these days. Whether you are looking for rewilding, Wilderness survival, Homesteading, How to survive the apocalypse, experimental archaeology, or whatever. You can choose a 4 hour class, a 1 day workshop, a long weekend, a week, or you can do a year, or a season. I have taken lots of several hour to 1 day classes. I have gotten quite a bit out of each of them. However, Every single class that I have taken that was hours long, I had to go back and relearn the skill later. The classes that I have gotten the most out of are the ones that were months long. Think college. If you take 1 class you can say you went to college, but to get the benefit of the education you have to go for 4 or 6 or 8 years. This is so, because long-term exposure has so many benefits. The benefits range from deep immersion which ingrains you with a particular knowledge set. To the construction of a culture. Any Long term learning facility has a culture. The University of Minnesota has a student culture, St. Thomas University has a student culture, Rewild University has a very obvious student culture, and Future Necessities has a student culture.

Look at our “The Sacred Hunt” Apprentices. On February 1st these four guys had never met, now they are a team. We train together, we laugh together, and we work together. It has been amazing for me to watch how these guys have melded together. It is a culture of wonder, of respect, of Passion, and the want to be closer to the earth, more a part of the world. It has been said that we were not born to pay bills and die. The culture of today would beg to differ, but we are striving to show people that you can make your own path. You can both participate in the modern world, and also make your own life.

Any time that you take the opportunity to learn something, you are bettering yourself. When you commit yourself to an idea or a skill set, you are honing yourself. Delving into a culture and becoming a part of an idea is something else all together. When I was at Rabbit stick last year, I became a part of rabbit stick, I felt the ebb and flow of the base line that was that gathering. I talked to the people there as if we had been there forever. It became who I was. Then, I went home, and I returned to my normal life. I became me again, but by having fully immersed myself into the culture, it became a part of me, and ever so slightly changed who I am, and I love every second of it.

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What are Primitive Living skills?

 

       This topic covers a wide range of actual skills. Primitive living cannot be called a skill in itself, but instead it must be understood that at no time in human history have people been a solitary species. We are a pack animal, we need a clan to survive. The skills necessary to meet the needs of a person are best performed by a people.
        The basic needs of wilderness living, are shelter, fire, water, and food, and self expression, in that order. These needs are guided by 2 basic principles. Those of Connection and awareness. These last 2 items are the keystone, they are the parts that hold the whole thing together. Without a keen sense of awareness, awareness of your self, your situation, and your surroundings, and without a strong sense of connection to nature, to yourself,and to your community, you have no chance.
          So, what does it take to create a living in “primitive” sense. Let’s start with the basics.
1. Shelter: Shelter is first on our list because exposure poses the most imminent risk to people. We have not evolved with fur or feathers, and most of us don’t have a layer of blubber. In extreme conditions exposure to harsh weather can kill a person in less than 3 hours. Therefore it is the issue that needs to be addressed first. Going back to the last couple centuries people have moved from easily portable shelters such as the teepee, the laavuu, and the yurt. to permanent sedentary structures, that we call houses. Before that time we saw cultures living in pit houses, and thatched huts. We also saw cultures that were constantly on the move and lived in impromptu structures. These are the shelters that we are talking about. There is the Boreal lean to, the debris hut, the wigwam, and so incredibly many more. These structures can be anything from a pile of twigs and branches that we lay atop to insulate us from the cold of the ground, and cover ourselves with furs, to the wigwam, which is an intricate structure of poles and bark. These shelters can take anywhere from a couple hours to an entire day, or more to build. Each time that the people stopped, it was like building a temporary town.
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2. Fire: Fire is a huge deal in all of human history. When we achieved the ability to Create and control fire, we acquired the ability to cook meat, which meant we could hunt and kill larger prey with richer meat, and that…. is the time when our brains began evolving into the intellectual powerhouse that it is today. Our earliest handle on fire was to go to the aftermath of a forest fire or lightning strike and pick up coals which could be coaxed into a flame. But sometime around 400,00 years ago. Something happened. Anthropologist Russell Cutts believes that it went something like this: “Perhaps one day a hunter was burnishing his spear on an old tree stump and his mind began to wonder. While he was day dreaming he just kept rubbing his spear on the old dried up wood. After a while, he smelled something. It was familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it. It was….Smoke, the smell from the forest fires, but it had come from his spear. he had made smoke. He probably told his people, but of course they did not believe him. so he kept trying and trying, and then he passed it on to his children, who kept trying, and trying, and what seems like eternity. One of them made a coal, and after another eternity someone turned a coal into fire, which evolved into the hand drill, which evolved into the bow drill. The ability to control fire is the ability to maintain and support life. It keeps us warm, it lights our nights, and cooks our food.
3. Water: Water is the essence of life, of all life. anywhere on this planet without water, there is no life period. We are fortunate enough to live in a place that is rich in water. As far as I know Minnesota has 17,700 bodies of water that are large enough to be considered lakes, and a countless number that are just not quite big enough. Today the only issue that we have is ensuring that we boil or filter our water to make sure it is not polluted or contaminated. In the time of the Mississippians or the hopwellians all they had to do was find water, and drink it. Carrying water could be an issue back then, but these people were far more ingenuic than most of us probably realize.  They use hollowed out wood swollen with wetness to carry water, or gourds, or rawhide containers. In the time of the Anasazi, or the Hopi they faced a completely different set of problems, they did not have ready access to water, so they had to find sources miles from their homes and dig canals for miles and miles. Bringing the water to their crops and families. For the purposes of Primitive technology water focuses on the carrying and boiling of water without modern implements. In areas where bamboo grows it is not an issue. You can carry water in bamboo without altering it in any way. You can also boil water in bamboo if you do so carefully so as not to burn the bamboo. There were also clay jugs and pots as far back as 14,000 years ago in china and Japan, and 7-10,000 years ago in the rest of the world. A good clay pot can carry and boil water. You can make a birch bark container that is water tight by sealing the seams with pine pitch or by folding the bark in just the right way. To boil water in bark or in rawhide, you fill your container about half way with water, put clean rocks in a fire, and 1 by 1 add the rocks to the container until your water boils. It comes out a little sooty, but you can drink it.
4. Food: This is a huge subject, and one that will vary wildly from culture to culture. There are a few things that are universal. Everyone has to eat. And, I have never found any substantiated evidence of a vegetarian or vegan pre industrial culture. I have heard rumors of such, but most are either untrue, or related to cultures that had established towns, commerce, and agriculture, which excludes it from the group of pre-industrial aboriginal. All cultures that I am aware of, with the exception of the Inuit, eat some amount of vegetable matter in their diets. The Inuits traditionally ate only raw frozen meat. They had very little wood, therefore very few fires to cook with, and in the climate and landscape of northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland, it is nearly unthinkable that food worthy vegetation would exist. So, In most cultures, the first, and easiest food to acquire. Another trait that nearly all if not all Indigenous cultures have in common, is that they are INTIMATELY connected to the land and the landscape. We are talking about a level of connection that is essentially un-known in the modern world. These people that we are talking about, were born in nature, grew up spending every minute of their life immersed in nature, and lived their entire life as a part of nature. Knowing every plant every animal, how to find them and what to do with them. Kids would be able identify hundreds of plant species. These food sources were utilized year after year, generation after generation, and never depleted. Here in Minnesota we have dozens of edible and medicinal plant species. From cattails, and wapato, to Raspberries, and maple seeds. Owning this knowledge offers one a sense of confidence and self reliability that is indescribable to most of us. After Vegetation, fish is the next easiest food source to acquire.
     There are numerous methods for catching fish primitively. There are weirs, A rock or stick formation in the water intended to funnel the fish into an open area that is controlled by the hunter to make it hard for the fish to escape and easy for the hunter to spear or net them. There are several different types of fish funnel traps. There are spring traps with hooks on them, Trot lines, float lines, fishing poles, etc. Fish are pretty easy to catch, and they are plentiful in much of the world. They are delicious, and very healthy, being high in protein, and fats. The next easiest prey to acquire will be small game.
     Rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, etc. These can be trapped or hunted. If you are very skilled you can get small game with a bow and arrow, or a spear, but You One would be well served to learn the art of trapping if acquiring small game is the goal. There are many types of traps that can be employed. Dead falls, spring snares, loop snares, Pits, and an endless supply of designs and techniques from throughout the world. A dead fall is a heavy rock or log balanced atop some sort of trigger system. The most common ones are Figure four, which is important, because it is easy to make and it requires no cordage. Paiute, the easiest and most sensitive trigger. and promontory peg.Which is a little hard to make, but it is a very sensitive trigger, and works well for bird traps. There are also spring snares, which use a bent sapling, or a heavy rock to act as an engine which will (spring) the trap into action, thus killing your prey and lifting them off of the ground where they cannot be reached by other predators. The most common of these are the Twitch up, Which is very versatile, and is one of our go to traps in our teaching. The basic trigger, which is the one that most people teach and learn, but it is basically useless when it comes to actually catching an animal, because they are really tough to trigger. and the T-bar style, which is a really sensitive, but overly complicated trap trigger. There are literally hundreds of styles of spring snare, but essentially they all work the same. A loop snare, or noose snare, is simply a slip knot placed at such a height and in such a place as to ensnare the neck of a particular size and type of animal, and as the animal pulls the loop gets tighter and suffocates the animal. These are great for things like squirrels and rabbits, but aren’t great for larger or smarter animal. You can place several of them on a diagonally leaned pole, which is then placed near an oak tree and as squirrels attempt to climb up, they become ensnared. A pit trap is literally a hole in the ground placed in such a way as to encourage the prey to fall in.
      The most difficult food sources to acquire would be Large game and birds. Hunting large game takes a lot of skill and practice. To hunt large game you would use a bow and arrow, or an atl atl, or a spear. You would need to learn everything about the intended game, when they eat at what time of year, what they eat at what time of year. How and when they mate. Where they mate. Their migration routes, Their sleep habits. Where do they drink, how much do they drink. etc. Once you have learned everything that their is to know about your intended prey you need to either learn to track well enough to find a trail and follow it to the animal or you need to set up an ambush spot. You will then wait until your game approaches to within a workable distance and take your shot. Or you can spot and stalk, which means walk around and look for an animal and when you see one, slow down to a stalk and sneak up on the animal until you are within range. Birds are a whole other monster. With birds you need to learn all of the things that you learned about your big game, then be able to a small  very fast moving target.
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Primitive life included much more than just brutish day to day survival, It wasn’t just a constant search for food. People began making artistic advances as early as 75,000 years ago. In the form of shell beads and petroglyphs. Life certainly revolved around the 4 needs; Shelter Fire, water, and food, but the advances that made us really become human, had a lot more to do with creative expression. Often around the search for food, or shelter. Cordage is a great example. This seemingly simple discovery completely changed the game for our ancestors. Unfortunately plant fibers don’t stand up well with time. There are, however, a few examples of cordage that have survived that we know are at least 7-10,000 years old. Otzi the iceman had on shoes that were reverse wrapped basswood bark. Cordage as we will mean it here. is a plant or animal fiber that is reverse wrapped into string or rope. A reverse wrap includes twisting a bundle of fibers in one direction and then wrapping them in the opposite direction around another bundle that is twisted in the same direction. This simple invention made tying shelters easier and faster, it made bows strings stronger and longer lasting, everything became easier and more convenient. At one point in time, this was the most advanced technology on the planet.
Then there is flint knapping. Flint knapping is the method of breaking small pieces off of a larger stone in a specific order and pattern to create a sharp and strong cutting tool. Whether it be a knife or an arrowhead, or whatever. This is an art that began millions of years ago and is still evolving today.   The earliest stone tools were likely A stone picked up off of the ground and used to smash something, or a rock picked up that was already sharp and used to cut or scrape some material or food source. Soon there after they would have discovered that if they broke a stone by smashing it on another stone that it would create sharp cutting edges and points. The first known tools to come on the scene were the oldowan chopper (1.5-2.5 million years ago/Tanzania. Australopithecus Garhi or homo habilus) The Acheulian Hand axe (900,000-1.8 million years ago/All of Africa, south and west Asia, Southern Europe. Homo Ergaster, Homo Erectus) and The Abevellian hand axe (424,000-700,000 years ago/All of Africa, All of Asia, and most of Europe, though this designation in some circles is only used t describe European tools. Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens) These tools were simple and required very little work, though considering the time periods in question, the technology was amazing. After that time period the technology blew up, and in different parts of the world different technologies became the norm. We had the levallois technology in northern Africa, western Asia, and southern Europe around 335,000 years ago, the mousterian 40,000-160,000 years ago, thought to be neanderthal in origin, central Europe. We had the solutrean in France around 20,000-30,000 years ago made by homo sapiens, and the clovis technology around 10,000 years ago in south west United States. These just scratch the surface of the tools and techniques that existed over time, and now we have artists doing amazing things to rocks with very simple tools. The art of Flint knapping is an ever evolving, and far from dead art.
Obsidian points
Other such arts include Pottery, Basket making, Weaving, Bone tool making, Pecking and grinding, Ground stone technology, Hide tanning, Cave painting, and a never ending list of more and more to the end of the human imagination.
Pottery: The earliest use of clay as pottery is in China and Japan around 14,000 B.C.”long before they started farming. Probably people had always known how to make pottery, but just hadn’t done it much. This early pottery was made by just pushing a hole into a ball of clay, or by making a long snake of clay and coiling it up into a pot shape”-Emanuel Cooper, 10,000 years of pottery.
The earliest known Use of pottery in the Americas was around 5,500 B.C. in Brazil. They were packing fish in Clay to ferment it. In north America We see the Mississippians Using Pottery between 800-1600 B.C. and The Hopewellians using Pottery Between 200-400 B.C. It is likely that there was pottery being made and used in North America long before that, But if clay is not fired or tempered properly it is very difficult to identify. There is some evidence of fire hardened clay Tempered with plant fibers possibly as much as 2,000 B.C. and in the S.W. United States it may have been much much older. Finally the Inuits, or Inupiats may have been using Shell in A pottery type way as much as 10,000 years ago. 
Pottery may have started out as a simple vessels for storing or fermenting food, but very quickly clay pots turned into amazing works of art. Reflecting the care given to their manufacture in nearly every known human civilization. The anasazi in some regards are known as the masters of pottery. They have made some of the most beautiful pieces that are also fully functional 
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Basket Making:  Basket weaving (also basketry or basket making) is the process of weaving or sewing pliable materials into two- or three dimensional artifacts, such as mats or containers.
Making baskets is another skill that has been perfected around the world by dozens or hundreds of cultures. Here in Minnesota we have some of the best basket makers in the world. The Ojibwe Basket makers were incredibly innovative and skilled. They have a basket called a  wiigwaasi-makak. We call it a makuk. 
It is made of birch bark, sewn together with split spruce root, and sealed with pitch glue. They are used to store Maple sugar, and the preservative properties of the birch help keep the sugar fish and stave of insects. 
Baskets ave been made from different barks barks including Birch, Elm, Willow, Basswood, Spruce, Ash, and many others. Baskets have also been woven from roots, branches, split stems, and fibers. There are as many variations on basketry as there are on any subject that revolves around nature. 
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Bone tools are a subject of particular interest to me. A good friend of mine Wad Miller was an amateur archeologist, studying the history of Minnesota. He was on the team that discovered the Pine City Fur post. Here in Minnesota we find very few stone points and blades compared to other areas of the country. Wad believed, as do I that because the stone that is abundantly present here, the there was very little flint knapping. Therefore, most likely the earliest people of Minnesota were making there points and blades out of bone. Bone is very strong and can be honed to a fine edge. Bone also biodegrades, which is one possible reason that we don’t find many artifacts. The oldest excavated bone tools are from Africa, dated to about 1.5 million years ago. It is widely accepted that they appeared and developed in Africa before any other geographic region. A very famous excavation of bone tools is that of the Blombos Cave in South Africa. A collection of twenty-eight bone tools were recovered from 70 thousand year old Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave. Careful analyses of these tools reveal that formal production methods were used to create awls and projectile points.[3]
Commonly we find Awls, Arrowheads, Knives, Buttons, Spear points, Needles, Needle cases, and many man ymore are all commonly made from bone, all around the world.
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Pecking and grinding is the process of working a semi hard stone such as Green stone, or granite into an usable axe or other tool, by strategically striking a harder stone against it in a predetermined pattern to remove small particles of stone, thus changing the shape of the original into something close to the intended final shape. When the stone gets close to the intended shape, the maker then grinds the piece on a slab of wettened sand stone until it is polished into a finished tool. Ground stone tools show up in Europe and Africa around 25,000 years ago, but it is believed that the technology was used in Japan long before that time.  Here in Minnesota this technology is probably at least 2,000 years old, around the time when copper mining on Lake Superior is thought to have started.
At this point at least some of you are probably wondering how this applies to you.In the roughly 7 million year history of Right now is the first time that a majority of people have little or no discernible connection to Nature. We have built a world around us in which man ypeople feel that nature is not necessary, or some sort of abstract concept. This is not only sad, but also dangerous. It is said that people will only protect what they love. We need to love nature, and we need to protect it. The seperation that has taken place in the last 50 years or so is already showing it’s dark side.
 nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the “epidemic of inactivity,” and to a devaluing of independent play. Richard Louv.
 
In a world where anything that you could ever want to know is at your finger tips, it becomes of the utmost importance to focus on maintaining knowledge and experience. What kind of life is left when we don’t have to do anything or go anywhere? Need food, use your cell phone, have a question, ask your cell phone, need help, ask your cell phone. What we are seeing is sky rocketing diagnoses of Adhd, Anxiety, and depression. Mental health disorders are being fueled by a lack of personal connection in our day to day lives. In all of human history societies have been close knit. Everyone had a place and they knew their role. Cultures took care of people, and held their space for them. Now we intentionally separate ourselves from each other. we do everything in our power to not have to get to know people, to not have to meet people. Most of us, could not feed ourselves with out restaurants and grocery stores. Already we are at a point when many people cant even cook for themselves. 
The rewilding movement is growing and gaining popularity throughout the world. Let me clarify. If you give up all of modern life and become a monk in the woods; you are a rewilder. If you are a person who work sin an office in downtown, and you decide to spend your free time outside, and try to get to know nature, and your own wildness a little bit; you are a rewilder, and anything in between counts. I like air conditioning, and my cell phone. I love sushi, and pizza. I have no desire to give these things up. But, the wilderness is the most important thing to me. I know that it is home, I am as much a part of it, as a fox or  a deer. We all are. We are part of the food chain, we are part of the natural order, and we are nature. We just need to know this. We need to incorporate it into our lives. Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing has been shown to have a plethora of health benefits, lowered anxiety, lower blood pressure, Increased awareness, just to name a few, and literally, Shinrin Yoku is the act of walking in nature, and turning off your thinking mind and being in your awareness. Think of your mind as  a 2 part machine, there is the thinking, remembering, feeling part, and your awareness. Picture a landscape full of little balls. Each ball is a thought or a memory and yu can place your awareness on any ball that you choose. You can also place your awareness on NOW. no thoughts or memories, just awareness. But, this takes practice. Insert awareness exercise. 
 
Now to bring this back to primitive living skills. This awareness minded rewilding mind needs to be worked out, Your body needs push ups, your mind needs exercise to. Being in nature, practicing earth based living skills, immerses us into a real world a world where we know that we need to be a part of this, it gives us the confidence to move forth in our daily lives. When we Practice primitive living skills it connects us to our ancestors, and helps us feel like we belong again. These skills are our human birthrite. They predate all ideas of race, or nationallity. They predate, any religion or country. They bring us to a time when all people were simply, People. Which is the truth today as much as ever, We have just forgotten it.
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How connected is connected?

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There are millions of Americans that have an innate connection to nature. They join the Sierra Club, or Green Peace, They drive Hybrids, they love hiking, camping, and Fishing. The American Connection to nature is part of our heritage, part of who we are. we had pilgrims, then long hunters, and rangers, then mountain men, and voyageurs. Now we have archaeologists and Spelunkers. Each year 282 million people visit our national parks. This does not include National Forests, National monuments, State Parks, State Forests, National Wildlife refuges, National Grasslands, etc.etc.etc….. Literally most of America Feels some sort of meaningful connection to the wild parts of our Nation.

But……..What does this connection mean, and how connected is connected. We wear Northface, Drive Subarus, read Outside Magazine, and Shop at REI, but how can our actions reflect our beliefs? Our connection to Nature can be more real, it can be more meaningful, and we can pass it on to our children. The culture of mass compulsory consumerism does not need to keep a footing in our culture. It only exists because we feed it. But, some people feel the pull of the wild, they feel that they don’t need to keep buying things. There are those in our society who do feel fulfilled from having the nicest and newest stuff, and that is just fine. For those who know that there can be more to life than that, You can look past the mirage, you can see that nature is the way. I’ve said it before, but, humans have existed on this planet in 1 form or another for around 7 million years, and it is only just in the last 100 that we have decided that we don’t need nature. We could not be more mistaken. We need water to drink, air to breath, food to eat, and trees to clean our air. Without these things human beings cannot live, Period. In order for these things to continue existing, we need NATURE.

Right now, you can choose to go outside, to be a part of nature. If you sit at home and watch television, how can you expect your children to do any different. You can find a whole new sense of self and feel really connected to the world around you. Humans are a part of nature, and we are a part of the food chain. When you feel it, you will never be the same again. Once you feel your place, you will never want to give it up again. It is a knowing of self, a pure feeling of confidence. and all you have to do, is go outside, and learn how to be there. Foraging, tracking, hunting, Camping, these are all a part of our birth rite. A true meaningful connection to nature, is different than a sense of connection. But, Anything is a good start. A person who has given up the trappings of modern society, and live in a hut in the woods, and a person who knows that something has to change, and goes camping for the first time, are both on the path of rewilding. Regardless of how far down the path one might be, it is all the same path. Anything that gets people outside and opens their eyes is what it takes, a place to start is all anyone needs.

May this be yours…..

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Passing It On

deer in the snow

This year I began teaching my daughter about wild edible plants, fire making, and tracking. She is 3. It took me a long time to get my head around the idea that I was going to teach my 3 year old girl to eat plants and make fires. She is the most precious thing in the world to me, and this seemed like a really dangerous prospect. I thought it over for months, I talked to my dad, I talked to my wife, I talked to Nurses and Doctors that I work with. I did research, and ultimately I decided that Kids need to know these things. She is not dumb, She knows that you can’t just eat whatever you find, and she knows that she can’t start fires on her own. These skills, and this knowledge are vital for our upcoming generations. This world is not in danger, I do not believe that the earth will be going anywhere anytime soon. However, We could be in a pretty tight spot before too long. If we can manage to give our children the collective knowledge of our ancestors, and connect them to the earth in a way that gives them a sense of meaning in this world. Then, then we can start to make some real change. There have been people on this earth for roughly 7,000,000 years give or take a century or two. From sahalanthropus tchedensis, until about 200 years ago, people lived as part of nature. As a part of the food chain. They knew that everything that a person could ever possibly need came from the earth. These people lived long happy mostly healthy and free lives. They had a ton of leisure time, and only “worked” to keep themselves warm, and fed. We can share these skills with our children in a safe and respectful way. We can make it a game even. If you do not possess these skills, there are plenty of good people who love to share their knowledge and love working with kids. You can facilitate this learning.

When I am teaching my daughter, I do not sit her down and say “OK, time to learn.” I say “hey! Do you want to go out to the woods?” This usually means time with grandpa Gregg, and it usually means ice cream on the way home. She loves it. So, we go out in the woods, I have a few forests that I frequent. I never have an agenda in mind, we just go. If we see some good tracks we stop and talk about animals and try to figure out which animal made these tracks and what they might have been doing when they made these tracks. We will spend a lot of time talking about what the animal might have been doing, or where they were headed. We attempt to surmise what time of day it could have been when they passed based on track erosion and animal behavior. Is it a mom, or a baby? How many are there? These are the questions that make a good tracker, and my 3 year old is doing it.

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When we don’t see good tracks right away we look for plants. She is 3 she gets distracted and bored easily. If we see an easily identifiable plant we will discuss it. Have you seen this one before? Where? Do you remember what it’s called? If she does she gets rewarded with praise or a flower, or whatever. If not we talk about it. This is a dandelion, we have them at home. You can eat the leaves and the flower. As such, and so passes our time. We usually go for about 2 hours, it’s about all she can take at a time. She can now identify several common plants, and she doesn’t eat them without asking me or grandpa first. Now I’ve started taking her hunting with me. I don’t shoot anything in front of her, I just take her for a walk in the woods dressed in orange and carrying a rifle, to get used to the idea. (She does not carry a rifle, I do.) I believe that we can change the world simply by what we teach our children. I believe that we can put a huge dent in racism, sexism, and all other hate, simply by connecting our children to nature, and showing them that we all have a place in the world. And, that nature can give us everything that we need.

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Eating Wild Food

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This fall has been very eye opening for me. I have always felt that I ate a pretty good percentage of wild foods in my diet.  There is plenty of evidence that eating wild food is healthier for you. The nutritional content is higher, and there are Minerals and elements that do not regularly occur in domesticated foods that are not present in domestic foods. An issue that I had not previously given much thought to. If you do not have a successful hunting season, you do not have enough wild meat to carry you through the winter. So far this year I have harvested only a couple of squirrels. If I don’t get a deer before the end of archery season We will have only Store bought food to eat. How does one overcome this issue? I see a few options. 1: party hunting. In a party hunting scenario if 1 person gets game, the meat is typically split among the group. So, 3 people, 1 deer, everyone gets meat. This method may mean less meat per person, but at least everyone gets some wild meat.  The 2nd would be: Raising your own meat. If you have the ability to raise chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, or whatever, then you open yourself up to a plethora of food options. No, this is not wild food, but it is better than whatever you might get from Tyson, Gold N Plump, or Johnsonville. You will know exactly how happy the animals lives were, what they ate, and whether or not they had hormones or antibiotics. It is what I would call an acceptable alternative. The third option, and what I consider the most appealing, would be:  During optimum hunting and fishing periods, dedicate yourself as much as possible to the act of gathering food for you and your family. This may cut into social interactions, or video game time, but this is how you may best save up a winters worth of wild meat. It can be done. Small game, upland birds, migratory birds, Deer, Turkey, Bear, Fur bearers, Fish, We live in a world that provides plenty of game options. Pick your favorite, Learn to hunt them, and you can feed yourself.

If you prefer to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle that is your choice. In the modern industrial age it is pretty easy to get by on non-animal foods. But, you will rely on industrial agriculture. In North America there is not an appropriate climate for long term sustained Vegetarian life, without grocery stores. You may chose not to support modern animal farming techniques (on this point I agree with you.), but Wild food practitioners need animal protein for long term sustainability.

What is Rewilding?

Virginia waterleaf

Last night we hosted a discussion on “What is Rewilding”.  It was a great event with a great turn out. We had Curly dock bread and Dandelion pesto. We served Rose hip tea, Pine needle tea, Stinging Nettle tea, and Chaga tea. The discussion lasted 2 hours and I will lay out the basic premise for you now.

What is Rewilding?

Kenton Whitman of rewild university Defines it As:

You are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually amazing. The answer to your problems is available to you within your own innate wisdom.

Like our environment, which is forever altered due to human intervention, human nature has also been irrevocably shifted. Rewilding isn’t about trying to go back to living as hunter-gatherers. Rather, it is about examining our cultural paradigms, seeing how they affect our physical, mental, and emotional health, and reclaiming our birthright as human beings.

Rewild.com says:

Rewilding means restoring ancestral ways of living that create greater health and well-being for humansand the ecosystems that we belong to. … Rewilding learns from the examples of indigenous people past and present provided by anthropology, archaeology, and ethnobiology.

and Wikipedia says:

Rewilding means to return to a more wild or natural state; it is the process of undoing domestication. … Rewilding intends to create permanently wild humancultures beyond domestication.

I like to think of it along these lines.

The culture of 21st century humans on the planet earth does not work very well for very many people. Of course some people thrive and succeed in it, but they do so at the expense of most other people. for 7,000,000 years humans evolved in a manner directly in line with nature. We hunted and gathered, and we held our communities close. We used plants as medicine, and held reverence for the earth and the animals.

Then about 12-15,000 years ago a small group of humans started planting crops. Very quickly with this came monotheism, hierarchy, a sense of ownership of land and resources that had never been seen before. This idea swept the land and with a new sense of food security came cities and towns. and war and disease. You all know the story. In very short time human culture was completely changed and people abandoned or were taken from there appropriate lifestyle. 7 million years of evolution had been swept away in a heart beat.

Now fast forward 12,000 or so years, and for the most part humanity has lost all connection to nature. Of course there are a few hold out cultures, in South America, Africa, and a few islands, but by and large it is gone. In place of our connection to the earth, we have create a waste land, where we Mine, and log, and chemically synthesize everything that our fat lazy selves could ever want. Those at the top of the financial heap have convinced us that we will be happy if we buy enough stuff.

There are a growing number of people who know that this is wrong.

We want the world back.

But we can’t have it

What can we Do?

We can take our collective memories from our time as true members of the ecosystem, and combine that with our knowledge of how things are now and we can move forward toward a feral self.

So, what does rewilding encompass:

virtually everything. The list that I like goes something like this.

  1. Nutrition
  2. Movement
  3. Spirituality
  4. Community
  5. Family
  6. Connection to nature
  7. Awareness
  8. Sexuality
  9. Sleep
  10. Everything

In the coming weeks and months I will break this down to reasonable bite sized pieces. we will explore this together. What do each of these things mean to us, and how can we implement meaningful change in our lives. we can change, and we must change. This is our path forward. With love, respect, understanding, awareness, and a strong connection to nature.

 

SPRING!!

Morel

The long cold sleep of winter has finally given way to the hope of a new year. The rebirth of spring, and the coming of longer warmer days. This is a very exciting time of year, for rewilders as well as everyone else. For many it means: beaches, picnics, parks, and campng with friends. It can be all of those things for us too, just because we are erwilding doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun. However, for us it also means: Foraging, Gardening, Fishing, Being barefoot, Reacquainting ourselves with the land. It gives us a whole new set of reasons to get up and go in the morning. We need to recondition our feet, and get ou tto renew our intimate knowledge of the shape of the land. Where are the fiddel heads? Where are the Ramps. Do you know how to eat a baby Urtica Dioica without getting stung?

All of these things breed a sense of excitment. it feels very new and fresh even after the long winter. Here in the north we have felt cooped up for too long. Even getting out as much as possible in the winter feels like a jail cell of seperation from nature. We go ice fishing, and tracking, and snow shoeing. We do go out in the winter, but it simply isn’t enough. we crave spring. This isn’t to say that we should wish the winter away. Life is precious and we should drink in every moment of it. The spring Just feels a little bit more precious.

I am excited. Are you? I am ready for barefoot strolls in the woods, and wild foods right off oo f the ground.

See You out there.

Rewilding is everything:

June 23 2018

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As I am sure that many of you know, The more that I study Rewilding the more I realize that Rewilding is literally everything. Every decision you make, every movement that you perform, every dollar that you spend.

Kirstin and I have been rearranging and reworking our home in order to encourage more movement and a healthier lifestyle that happens organically rather than by force. We have made many small changes and are working toward more. Just a few of the ideas that we have put to use: Dishes on the bottom shelf. This way you have to squat or bend down every time you need a glass or a plate. Put your pans on the top shelf. This way every time you need a pan you have to reach up over your head to get it. we bought a dynamic work space mat to put in front of our kitchen sink. It has several different inclines to adjust your foot position and angle, and it has 2 balance points to work on your balance while you wash plates, and a static foot massager. We put yoga mats in our family room, this way we can sit on the floor while we watch TV. I have actually read that simply by sitting on the floor rather than in a chair or couch, that you can burn an extra 700 calories a day. This is just a small sampling of the changes that we are making in our lives. There are so many things and we will just keep talking about them until I run out of things to say, which may be a while. I mean: sleep, diet, movement, Spirituality, sex, community, communication, leisure time, all of these things are rewilding. Engaging with your child in an outdoor activity rather than watching a movie, choosing to have open and honest discourse with your significant other rather than guarded small talk. All of it. We have been done a grave injustice by our culture. We have been told that easy and comfortable is better than hard and real, this is not true. We are meant to live to feel ,to experience, and to sweat.

When I was in college my ethics professor asked the class: Would you rather live the perfect life, but have it be fake. You are lying on a table plugged into a computer, but as far as you know life is perfect. Perfect job, Perfect spouse, Perfect house, etc….. but it is all fake. Or, Live your actual life, with all of its’ pain, and all of its’ flaws. Every single person in the class chose real life. I feel like this point is being lost. Let’s get it back.

Unseasonal Spring

Fish Lake Sunset

Well, It looks like we may actually get a spring. After an April full of snow and record breaking cold, the sun is shining and it is warm. It is glorious. We are in our new home now, and I am ready to get out and learn the land. I have new plants to learn, new routes, and find where the animals live. we are looknig forward to planning new classes and camps where you will be able to actually join us at Northwinds campus. we are also working on a monthly skills meet. This would entail coming on friday night and Cooking dinner around the fire. we will all camp out together and on saturday we will spend 6 -8 hours working on something. Maybe it is coal burned bowl and spoon making, or maybe we would harvest cattails or acorns. Each month would be a different topic, and it would be set up like a subscription service. Sign up monthly or sign up yearly.

These are only a few ideas that have been floating around in the North Winds arena. Mostly, we are just excited to learn our new home. We have already had trumpeter swans, a black bear, and a barred owl on our property. We have Red oak, Maple, Birch, White pine, and red pine on our property. We have found Stinging nettles, Sun chokes, Cattails, and so many more plants. We are also adjacent to 7,700 acres of Wildlife Management area. Here we can forage, and hunt, We track, and explore. This will be the home of North winds Wilderness School and my family for the foreseeable future. There is also the lake. We have 400′ of Shore line on Fish lake. Fish Lake is an 83 acre lake with no public access. There are a few homes on the lake, but only a few. This will give us access to fishing, canoeing, Aquatic plant ID, swimming, and more.

We are so thankful that spring is finally here, and we are very excited at the prospect of having you all to see the land. We have already scheduled a bow making class, and a tracking evaluation.

See you Soon.

Opossum