To the traditional Wintu, human experience and skill are capable of affecting only a tiny fraction of nature’s immensity. The natural world that lies beyond a person’s frail bubble of personal experience is fundamentally unbounded, undifferentiated, timeless.  So while individuals may think that by the time they reach old age, they have genuinely altered the world as they interacted with it, this is simply an illusion.

In truth, what they have done is no more than grant fleeting expression to a boundless eternity of ancient, preexisting patterns, relationships, and materials that are all a part of the grand design of the natural world.  The individual Wintu, during the course of his or her transient lifetime on earth, merely actualizes a given design endowing it with temporality. As a mortal human being, as for other species, his role in the sacred order of the natural world is necessarily constrained. He neither creates nor changes; the design remains immutable.

From Wisdom of the Elders: Honoring Sacred Native Visions of Nature by David Suzuki and Peter Knudtson.

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