• Reindeer People

    Posted on March 30th, 2014 mollyo92 No comments

    I was very interested by the reading this week, and I’m looking forward to the great discussion that I know will result from the reading. I really like the context the book is written in. Specifically, I like that reindeer are explained in a way that shows how vital they are to the people they are connected with. The book uses powerful expressions like, “reindeer has been giving life to humans” (page 17), to show their role in the culture. Obviously, Vitebsky’s journey to the Eveny people shows in depth exactly how important the reindeer are to the population. One of the highlights for me was the discussion of animals souls. I love the beliefs of the Eveny people, in which all living things have their own spirits, and therefore all have some sort of consciousness. This type of belief system allows for a respect of nature that isn’t typically found, in my opinion, in Christianity and many other religions today. Instead of respecting nature because it was created by God, it seems to me that the Eveny people respect nature as they would fellow humans, for its inherent value, and they have a full awareness of the importance of each and every living thing on the planet. This segment made me retrospectively consider the discussion of how domestication began that was brought up earlier on in the book. On page 25, Vitebsky discusses the mystery of domestication, and why taming wild animals, here referencing reindeer, “was once possible, but it seems almost impossible to domesticate wild reindeer today.” After reading about the Eveny beliefs, this made me consider the type of society that may have existed back then. Was domestication possible because the people who lived all that time ago had a different view of nature? I think most scientists agree that animals don’t have the same level of intelligence that humans do, but I do understand that animals have been known to sense what is around them. The image that comes to mind is a dog cowering in fear sensing the anger in an owner’s voice. Were reindeer able to be domesticated because they sensed the respect those early humans had for them? The sense of equality and mutual benefit? Perhaps all traces of that sort of respect is lost in most people today, which is why domestication no longer occurs as easily. I’ll admit that it’s a crazy thought, but even the mere idea of such a prospect does at least make one consider how animals are treated in modern society, and at the very least think for a moment on whether or not the human/animal relationship was different in the dawn of animal domestication. Was something done with the best intentions developed into something cruel as humanity slowly lost its respect for the beauty of nature?

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