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The Akiing Ethic

The Akiing Ethic

Seeking Ancestral Wildness beyond Aldo Leopold’s Wilderness

(p.195) 20 The Akiing Ethic
John Hausdoerffer
University of Chicago Press

Based on an exploration of the question “what kind of ancestor do you want to be,” this chapter compares Aldo Leopold’s notions of wildness with those of White Earth Land Recovery Project leader Winona LaDuke. Leopold’s idea of wildness evolved from “primitive” wilderness areas to include “the ravine in a Corn Belt woodlot” and the weeds in a city lot. Ultimately, Leopold saw wildness as rooted in the “capacity for self-renewal” in any biotic community. Winona LaDuke views the land through the lens of akiing—“land to which we belong.” This chapter looks at efforts to protect the practice of wild rice harvesting on the White Earth Reservation as a means of protecting the product and process of land to which we belong. That belonging, through the practice of land-based livelihood, is the essence of wildness. This leads to a view of wilderness as home, and of wildness as home-making, out of the relations the Anishinaabe have with ancestral lands through traditional practices. Akiing is presented as the next stage in Leopold’s progression from utilitarian uses of land to wilderness preservation to the process of wildness.

Keywords:   Aldo Leopold, wildness, Winona LaDuke, Akiing, wilderness, ancestor, White Earth Reservation, land-based livelihood, Anishinaabe

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