Sunday, July 07, 2013

Development vs. Destruction

For years, I have hiked in the hills above the Little Spokane River. Now the owners are developing the land, and in the process, they have disturbed an important ecological and cultural resource. 

A few personal stories will illustrate the point. 

Some years ago, my aunt told me that she was having a hard time getting a specific plant medicine. I said, "Don't worry auntie, I know a place where you can get as much as you would ever need." She gave me some advice regarding the proper way to both harvest the plant and prepare it for medicine. Then she sent me on my way. When I returned with a large bundle of this plant, she was so happy. She had her medicine for another year. 

Another time, an elderly relative of mine called and said that she needed a specific medicine for a kidney infection. She is very traditional and often refuses modern medicine. However, she does accept traditional remedies. When she called, I went to the same place to gather the necessary plants. Her infection was healed. 

Over the years, I have gone back many times to gather medicine. Now the site has been bulldozed. The top photograph is the exact location of my traditional gathering place. There's nothing left. When I saw it, I was heartsick. Part of me wanted to cry. The other part wanted to find the owner and give them a piece of my mind. 

It's not that I'm opposed to all development, but I am in favor of conscious development. Before we bulldoze an entire mountain, maybe we should ask if we might first develop land in the decaying urban center of our cities and towns. I just don't understand why Americans insist on building further and further into the wilderness while their cities are rotting from the inside out. Second, we should become acquainted with the unique ecological nature of a site before we tear it to shreds. As my stories demonstrate, there was a tremendous value to that place before it was developed/destroyed. 

Soon enough, they'll build their million dollar homes and put up "No Trespassing" signs. I'll have to go someplace else within the ever shrinking wilderness to find medicine for my family. 

Another medicine site 
with bulldozer tracks 
through the center. 

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