The Wolf Clan
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

This colored pencil drawing is by Nancy Wood Taber, B.F.A.

THE WOLF CLAN

The howl of the wolf came before he appeared
And with the four winds he defused all the fears
Singing his old favorite songs
Said this is where you belong
Into the great light of the sun.

Except from David Black's The Natural Place

Wolf is the sage or Great Teacher. Wolf Clan is the most populous and strongest clan in Ahkwesahne. Native Americans have always felt a kinship with the wolf. Many of their legends tell of men shape-shifting from a man to a wolf and back again. The Wolf Clan has a strong sense of family mores and values. Wolves in the wild are cautious and watchful, their ears are always tuned to their environment, for wolf has learned through the centuries that he is often victim to man. Wolf Clan members keep an eye and ear to the happenings within the tribal unit.

Wolves are the lions of the Northern Hemisphere. They live in groups (packs), they are both meat-eating, and they are handsome creatures. People often portray Lions as "lordly" or "magnificent" while wolves are labelled "sneaky" or "cowardly. Literature has Little Red Riding Hood, where the wolf is a seducer and villian. The Three Little Pigs had a wolf who blows their houses down, so as to eat them. Then there is the werewolf, which typically is the darkest side of man's psyche. Romulus and Reamus, the founders of Rome, were raised by a she-wolf. Babylonians and Greeks tell of supernatural wolves that devour human souls. Then we have phrases like "cry wolf," and "keeping the wolves away from the door." In short wolves are generally thought of as menacing creatures ("Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? by John Carey National Wildlife magazine. Aug-Sept 1987, 4-10).

However, the fact is that "man's best friend," the dog, is really a member of the wolf family. Every single dog in the world is descended from wolves that were tamed in the Middle East about 12,000 years ago. And many of the traits that we today admire in our pet dogs have been inherited from the Wolf (Wexo, John Bonett, "Wolves" (ZooBooks). San Diego: Wildlife Education, Ltd. 1998. Wolves are carnivores with a huge appetite. A wolf pack will kill and eat approximately one Deer every two days. Other animals they crave are beaver, rabbits, squirrels, mice (when times are difficult), and many larger animals (deer, elk, mountain goats). When a pack hunts together they work as a team. A single wolf is not large enough to hunt large animals. Packs travel in their prospective hunting territories looking for prey. In fact, they may travel as far as 40-60 miles a day looking for food.

Wolves are very intelligent, and they show this in the way they choose their prey. They try to avoid prey that are too dangerous. When hunting large prey, they look for old or sick animals, which are easier to catch.

The gray wolf (cabis lupus) was hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction. Between 1884 and 1918, 80,730 wolves were turned into cash bounties in the state of Montana alone. Now there are fewer than 1,300 wolves in the entire lower 48 states. The majority still live in northern Minnesota, and there are 5,000 wolves in Alaska. Michigan has a wolf pack on Isle Royale. See more below......

Loyalty is a trait one often admires in their family dog. Wolves are loyal to their families and mate for life. Wolves, like domestic dogs, are intelligent and love to play. In fact, in many ways wolves are very much like humans. They, like people, can adapt to many different climates and habitats, and they survive on a variety of food. Why then do people hate Wolves? Probably because they are uninformed. If you love dogs and lions, then why not wolves? People need to learn from the past.

"Wolf taught humans to live in harmony with each other, since the wolf lives in packs and is a social animal. Wolf has firm traditions and boundaries. Wolf Clan people are usually aggressive and respond instantly to things in their life. They are honest and straight forward. However, many times they are not diplomatic, since they say what is on their mind. They love a good argument. Wolf Clan people need to fully examine a situation before they dedicate themselves. Wolf Clan members may bicker, but when threatened they unite together (Porter). Wolves, in nature, mate for life. They can teach man about love and family. Wolf is the true spirit of the free and unspoiled wilderness.

Wolves are ritualistic and live by rules. They have a hierachical structure. There is an alpha male and an alpha female leader of the pack. They lead the others. Wolves make use of all that is available to them. Wolves are intelligent and will generally go out of their way to avoid trouble or danger. However, many ranchers kill wolves and fear them. The gray wolf was endangered, but is now making a comeback. Please take the time to read information about the Wolf.

*****

Wolf

Wolf, you were free, you were hunting in the sun.
Long before man arrived, we were brothers side by side.
In the days of the arrow, in the days of the bow.
In the days of the spirit, not too long ago...

Wolf, you were seen, by the fathers of our dream
And the hunt you engaged was the blueprint for our age.
Then we learned and we burned with desire to know more
In the dawn that was a man's, they hunted o'er the plains.
Still the wolf pack set the pace, when the fire was just a flame...

  • As plow turn the plains, we ranch on the range.
    The bisons are gone now, the wolf pack remain.
    In search of the killers of our sheep and out cattle herds,
    The stockmen were helpless, they request our aid.
    Defending the rangelands, are we in our roles,
    To kill thousands of bountiful wolves is our goal.

Wolf, where are you in the lower forty eight?
Once you ran through the woods of the eastern seabound states!
Now you're gone from the woods, from the mountains, from the plains;
They are filled with the still of the vanishing frontier,
They are broken by the blade, tilling all we once held dear...

  • So load on your planes, get a permit for game
    We'll sweep o'er the tundra, and muskeg terrain.
    In search of the killers of our moose and our caribou
    And all that are helpless, the weak and the lame.
    Protecting the wild, are we in our roles,
    blasting those bountiful wolves down below.

Wolf, you were free, you were hunting in the sun.
Long before man arrived, you were nature, you were young,
Then we came, and survived, we were brothers side by side
In the days of the arrow, in the days of the bow.
In the days of the spirit, not too long a time ago...

In the days of the arrow, in the days of the bow.
In the days of the spirit, not too long a time ago...

  • When the memory of brotherhood between humans and wolves is revived and nurtured the healing process can begin.
    Onye ... I have spoken.

John Gladstone (Blackfoot)

*****

Why Do People Fear the Wolf?:

Kent Joel Carnegie (age 22) of Ontario, Canada, was killed by a wolf in late autumn 2005. Carnegie's death was the first human, killed by a wolf, for more than 100 years. His death occured in northern Saskatchewan. Kent Joel Carnegie was a geological engineering student who was studying uranium, gold, and silver mining near Wollaston Lake.

Carnegie photographed wolves and may have given them food scraps to keep them around. He may have been too familiar with the wolves who expected food from humans? No one is sure.

In Ontario, Canada, in 1996, another wolf was said to have entered a campground and started to drag off a sleeping bag with a 11-year old boy. The boy had eighty stitches and survived. In Algonquin Provincial Park there were only four other wolf related incidents in 25 years.

Back in 1991, the National Wildlife Federation participated on a special committee created by Congress to develop a plan for reintroducing and managing the endangered gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park and the Central Idaho Wilderness Area. This effort came after the Fish and Wildlife Service approved a wolf recovery plan in 1987. Then the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf would then be established where it once roamed, in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. The River of No Return wilderness in Idaho would also be repopulated. The plan was to allow at least twenty (20) years for the wolves to re-establish (this happened in 1911).

Currently the deer hunters in the State of Michigan have had concerns in regards to the growing wolf population. Some feel that their deer hunting experience might be endangered by the existence of wolves. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has over 400 wolves and the Lower Peninsula has a few wolves that may have crossed the frozen straits of Mackinaw.

Michigan had a bounty on wolves in 1838. In 1931, state trappers removed 70 wolves from Luce County, Michigan. Earl Eastman shot a wolf in November of 1935. The wolf weighed 184 pounds and measures 7' 11" and stood 12 3.4 " at the shoulders.

Whereas the white men feared the wolf, the Native Americans felt a kinship with the wolf and called them "brothers." Thus the Wolf Clan. The Native respected the wolf and its place on this earth.

Great Lakes Pilot Preview

By 1959, there was only one wolf left. In 1974, four wolves were captured in Minnesota and transferred to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The wolves presently in Michigan have bred from those and other wolves that might have escaped death during the wolf bounty. Fifty wolves have been poached in the U.P. since 1990, and only one-third of the poachers have been arrested.

Wolves eat road kill. These deer were already dead or dying. More deer are killed by automobiles than by wolves. In nature, wolves kill the weak or wounded deer. Some of these deer are wounded by deer hunters. The survival of the fittest has always been the law of nature. Nature kills to live, not to wipe out a species. It is well documented that people have hated wolves since our early colonists. Colonists from Europe had already wiped out their own wolves. Their fear factor was high. The first Wolf Bounty Law was passed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. The English paid one penny for each dead wolf.

SEE: My Timeline of events in regards to wolves and other events. and the heading regarding their feelings about nature Part II Narrative About Salem Village, MA.

Humans must learn that all wild animals are unpredictable: from bears to moose - to chipmunks and large birds. All can harm men and even kill them. We must learn to respect nature. Wild animals are not like our pets, and remember even pets turn on their masters from time to time. The answer is caution not the killing off of the entire wolf population. To lose any part of God's plan in nature would be to lose a part of ourselves.

North American Wolf Association Lonewolf's Wolf Facts The Wolf Web Wolves Ontario Help Save the Wolves
Wolf.org ...Endangered Arctic Wolf USDA Forest Service News Nature Serve.org Zero Extinction.org

SOURCES:

Cronan, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996.

McIntyre, (editor) Rick. War Against the Wolf: America's Campaign to Exterminate the Wolf. Stillwater, MN.: Voyageur Press, 1995.

Minnis, Paul E. and Wayne J. Elisens. Biodiversity & Native America. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.

Woods-in-Water News - February 2006. "Should We Fear Wolves?" by Jonathan Schechter, 10.

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