The Origins of my Outrage

Several years ago, I watched a presentation on 20/20 that highlighted the extreme poverty of the Native American Reservations in the western U.S.

In the solemn woods….

It was startling to me to learn how neglected this population still is by the government that slaughtered and betrayed them. The TV special focused on the rise of childhood obesity in Native American children and how this epidemic was inextricably linked with their poor diet of sugar and fat-laden foods. Processed foods had been placed in their schools and rations for decades.  This saddened my heart deeply. Once a people with a premium diet that supported their marvelous dexterity and made them supreme hunters; now the poorest and sickest among us, all in just a few generations. Coverage of the plight of this population still surfaces here and there in the news (like in this recent article on Food Safety News).

As a kid, I grew up in southern Georgia, passing the historic markers for the Trail of Tears and Andersonville on my way to school every day.

Ghosts of Cherokees and Creeks being forced from their land in mass exodus wove through the cotton fields of my mind’s eye. It truly sickened me when I learned of their torment and suffering–thousands died.  When my father tilled the soil on our land some 30 miles away, closer to the Flint River where old pottery pieces had been found, I treasured sifting the fresh earth with my hands, searching for arrowheads (or, “projectile points” if you’re scientifically inclined). I reflected on what their lives might be like now if the white invaders had included them, had worked alongside Nature instead of succumbing to fear and their own form of zealous barbarism. I wished things were different.

When you’re in rural anywhere, it’s hard to describe the night sky.

It stretches across your small piece of the globe, the stars light up like nothing you’ve ever seen and the air is sweet and clear. There is no light pollution at my parents’ house and there never was. I prefer this authentic experience of nighttime. It makes me listen for the sounds in the nearby forest, the brook that runs from pond to bigger pond, and the animals whose eyes eerily glow in the moonlight. It makes me remember.

It makes me remember that this nutritional deficit has become a national tragedy.

It is bigger than the reservations. It is now across the country, in my home state, and spreading across the planet. We are quickly becoming a sick human race. And for what? The myth of convenience?

This report had a tremendous effect on me and jumpstarted my interest in studying diet and nutrition. It wasn’t until I began studying Ayurveda that I felt I had come across a system that addresses all important points on a level playing field: diet, daily habits, lifestyle, stress management, spiritual fulfillment, AND psychology. Diet is but one part of the picture, but it’s a big one.

Those aboriginal Americans ate truly whole foods; now, why is that so hard for anyone?

I suspect it’s because we’ve forgotten.

Check out Matika Wilbur’s Kickstarter project for 562-A Photo Project Documenting Native America.