People of the Mi’kmaq and Panamanian and Colombian Farmers
Although the Mi’kmaq, Panamanians, and Columbians all understand the significance of plants to humans, the three cultures vary in several ways. Many of the people in these communities loved nature because they assisted in replenishing animals, and all of the children in these communities learned from the adults. They differed, however, in their views on marriage, trees, and faith in God.
Annie Proulx tells Charles Duquet and Rene Sel, two young Frenchmen and their descendants. Sel is forcefully married to a Mi’kmaq woman, and their descendants live in a world separated by two cultures. In his book, The Anthropology of the Economy Gudeman explores economies of households by revisiting his earlier studies in Panama and Colombia. Unlike the Mi’kmaq people, these people grew rice and maize for household consumption. The book reflects his experiences with the Panama and Columbia people, and he finds out that material life in the two regions is greatly influenced by material things, work, human character, and divinity among the locals (Gudeman: 36).
The children and grandchildren of Sel give an account of how the Europeans tore the ancestral lands of the Mi’kmaq people and their fate as the continent’s original inhabitants. The Mi’kmaq people are seen as people who cared for their nature as they did not practice destructive activities on their ancestral land. They are presented as a community who practiced traditions such as the use of plants for therapeutic purposes through the animals belonging to a wealthy French settler, Philippe Null after they consumed all medicinal plants. An old grandmother Loze comments, “… they have eaten herbs to cure a headache, lingering cough, prolapsed uterus, fevers, broken bones and sore throats” (Proulx: 180). Similarly, the Panama and Columbia people believed that an essential aspect of all living things was found in plants, animals, and humans as well as some natural products. Nature which is comprised of rain, sea, and soil is the source of strength for the living things (Gudeman: 37).
The descendants of Sel struggle to preserve their people from extinction and stop the white settlers from scrunching into their lands. When they returned to the Mi’kmaw country in late March, they are forced to live on the edges of the old trapping areas and away from the French settlers (Proulx: 172). Indicating of how weak the Mi’kmaq people were compared to the other communities. The native Mi’kmaq people had their customs destroyed as there were very few Mi’kmaq people left (Proulx: 201). The traditions of the Mi’kmaq people are also not strict towards marriage as Mari is married off to Sel after her husband divorced her with her children. The Panama and the Columbia people were focused on unions that were paid on a sound foundation (Gudeman: 38). One was expected to look for a partner whom they would develop their children into responsible individuals and maintain the family legacy. One must have a good foundation inside and outside as it indicates that the person has the character needed to manage a domestic economy (Gudeman: 38)
The Mi’kmaq people practiced territorial rights among themselves to protect their land while the Panama believed in a shared heritage. Theotiste and his band attacked Cornwallis when he ignored the territorial rights and declared Halifax an English settlement (Proulx: 200). Cornwallis escaped but was found murdered by an unknown assassin indicating how the Mi’kmaq people were ready to protect their ancestral lands. The Mi’kmaq people were so tightly knitted into the natural world that their language could only reflect the union. They valued the forests as it was a living entity to them. The woods to them were filled with food, medicine, shelter, tool material, and other gifts. They lived with their lands with harmony and gratitude (Proulx: 149). On the other hand, Panama and Columbia’s people did not have value the forests. The rural farmers were clearing forests and raising crops for the households. The farmers in Panama were involved in activities such as cutting and loading sugar cane, carrying water, seeding a field, building houses, and many other events. Similarly in Colombia people were engaged in activities such as harvesting potatoes (Gudeman: 39).
The Panama and Columbia people had a stronger belief in God than the Mi’kmaq people. According to the Panama and Columbia society, God possesses all the things as he is the maker. He owns the human, vegetation, and rocks (Gudeman: 37). They believed human was made in the image of God and hence possess the activity and products of their work as they supply the force for working. The Mi’kmaq people loved their North America’s vast fertile forests. They were gravely concerned about the future of the living world and the demise of the wildly diverse forests.