follow that dog: living with the land

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and other ecosystems, we relearned what our ancestors had know: that top predators are necessary to the health of the entire system.

Wolves not only ate excess deer and elk, thus keeping them from over eating their environment, but did something else…

…they caused prey items to move the way Nature intended.

A horse in a pasture eats and tramples it down.

Prey items with no predators do the same basic thing.

Predators move the prey, make them more cautious and alert, strengthening those animals but also creating a stronger, healthier environment for all creatures. Plants grow back, beavers have food, they dam streams, create wetlands and more habitat… etc. On and on the ripples go out.

People go to Alaska now because it is still the Last Wilderness. People whose ancestors have lived there for millennia have come to understand the hidden layers in those complex boreal and arctic ecosystems.

And one of the things they did in the old days, before government schools and gold rushes and steamboats and trading posts was…


“A long time ago people used to stay in camps in different seasons,” Fred Bifelt of Huslia explains. “They moved to fish camp, trapping, beaver ponds, whatever. There’s no way you can stay in one community like this because you go eat the area out and start starving you know? But you had to move around migrating and all that. But when times started changing and we started having public education, they required us to have our kids go to school, that’s why we started having towns like this.”

Now, like a horse in a pasture, the food needs to be brought in, and that’s not cheap.

People learned to adapt to the hard, complex, environment of the North. They had rich lives there.

And they are still there. And some remember the wisdom of their ancestors.

Hero Journeys like Iditarod bring us all a little closer to those people and their knowledge.

You can follow the race at

It’s not just a race, it’s a window into another world with blogs, videos and photos, words and pictures of a fabulous place that holds ancient wisdom.


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