Kaska traditions forbid killing grizzly bears

Kaska traditions forbid killing grizzly bears I am a Kaska First Nation elder, and I grew up in a traditional way, following my parents into the mountains with pack dogs to carry all our belongings and hunting to feed ourselves. My parents and grandpare

I am a Kaska First Nation elder, and I grew up in a traditional way, following my parents into the mountains with pack dogs to carry all our belongings and hunting to feed ourselves.

My parents and grandparents taught me that animals are our close relatives and never to kill animals or even destroy plant life without need. I was made to understand these rules when I was a young child. I remember cutting a poplar tree for fun when I was a child. My grandfather was not happy with me and asked me where the bird should make its nest now. I then had to cut up the whole tree so that it would not be wasted.

Killing grizzly bears is “Ai” in our tradition: it is forbidden. Black bears should be taken only for food and when no other food is available. No animal should ever be killed for fun or just because it is easy.

Shooting grizzly bears is offensive to our traditional values, and it seems to me that many of our young members are sometimes forgetting about these rules.

Also, if visitors to the Yukon see such activities they will be much shocked and never want to come back. Tourism is a source of income that does not destroy the land and creates friendship and sharing between people from different cultures. It makes me sad that visitors should see bears shot in front of them on a roadside and leave with a bad opinion about our values and the kind of people we are.

Bears are not numerous in the Yukon, they take a long time to have cubs and they should be honoured as our cousins, never shot as trophies.

Dennis Shorty

Ross River

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