Ellen Bello

President and CEO
Native American Music Awards

 

When you look into the eyes of nature, there is an undeniable and inherent sense of strength, beauty, knowledge, and skill.

As humans, only we have the ability and power to protect our wildlife from facing extinction. Without the Endangered Species Act of 1973, many of our native species would have become extinct.

Those same senses are clearly honored and expressed by artists in both contemporary and traditional Native American music initiatives. Originally born and inspired by the outdoors, Native American music carries a deep reverence of America’s landscapes where songs symbolize the spirit and beauty we live among. Native American song is integrally linked with our natural surroundings and various animal species, as in the traditional Bird Singers to the Deer Song, Buffalo Dance, and Eagle Dance. Contemporary initiatives also tend to recreate and incorporate natural animal sounds such as wolves howling and eagles screeching.

Native Americans are closely connected to nature and all parts of the living world.  Their conception of the world is not to dominate, but rather cooperate as creatures living in harmony with one another. Animals are honored and respected as our teachers, our companions, and our guardians. It is believed that different animal guides will accompany each person throughout their life journey. Many of these same animals are, or were at one time, protected under the Endangered Species Act, including these:

The wolf has long been regarded by as teachers or pathfinders. Wolves are fiercely loyal to their mates and have a strong sense of family while maintaining individualism. They have friendly, social, and intelligent traits. Gray wolves once ranged across the entire North American continent. By the mid-20th century, only a few hundred of the species remained in the entire lower 48 states. The gray wolf received Endangered Species Act protection in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan in 1974, and was re-classed from endangered to threatened in 2003.

The deer, which represents compassion, subtlety, gracefulness, and gentleness, has two subspecies of the White-tailed deer currently on the U.S. Endangered Species List.

The bear is industrious, instinctive, sovereign, courageous, and strong. Within the lower 48 states, grizzly bear populations have been reduced to a mere 2 percent of their former range. The grizzly bear is listed as threatened.

The eagle is considered the Messenger of the Great Spirit. The eagle is divine, intelligent, fiercely protective, and powerful. After nearly disappearing from most of the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing across the nation and no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

Consistently fighting climate changes and environmental challenges, the Endangered Species Act has offered protection and preservation for America’s most precious and beautiful wildlife.   As humans, only we have the ability and power to protect our wildlife from facing extinction. Without the Endangered Species Act of 1973, many of our native species would have become extinct.  Today, we commemorate this wonderful and needed law in effect for over forty years.  Let’s continue to celebrate and embrace the Endangered Species Act!