Eskimos and Bushmen Understanding of Nature


Eskimosand Bushmen Understanding of Nature

Eskimosand Bushmen Understanding of Nature

Inthe article understanding Eskimo Science, Nelson delves majorly onthe rich culture of the deep Alaska forest inhabitants – the Eskimos.Through his study, closer relation and interaction with theirculture, he managed to highlight a closer symbiotic relationshipbetween man and nature. He highlights an insightful revelation ofman’s understanding of his surrounding and the benefits that comeswith it, in this era where such understanding is often seen asuncivilised. For the Eskimos to have survived for generations andcenturies in the harshest climatic condition in the world, it hastaken them their deep and intimate relationship with their naturalenvironment(Nelson, 1993).

Thisunderstanding according to Nelson(1993)can only be equated to modern day scientific study, since the outcomeis so accurate even in the cases where the odds seem so high. Suchunderstanding of one’s surrounding can only been mastered throughkeen observation and learning from past experiences as passed on fromone generation to the other by the elders. This makes the knowledgeof elders like Igruk, so valuable in a community where the onlysource of livelihood is hunting and gathering. Such skills areextremely necessary for survival they are conspicuously missing inour modern day life.

Onthe other side, when an anthropologist Lee visited the KalahariDesert in the far South Africa, he finds yet another sub-tribe whoseexistence entirely depends on nature. Through hunting and gathering,the Kung Bushmen have perfected the art of surviving in the harshwilderness of Southern Africa(Tainter, 2006).In his scientific study period, Lee realised that he had amassed morefood than the entire Bushmen community could have at any time. Thoughhe can not share his canned food for research reasons, he shares onoccasional instances medicine and tobacco, only for his selfishinterest- to get insightful information.

Ina community that values sharing, he is considered a miser for notsharing his canned goodies. It is during the Christmas season that hecomes to learn more about humility and generosity. He finds out thatthere is no total generosity for there is always the intricateinterest in every act of generosity. This was just a humbling waythrough which the Bushmen received any act of generosity(Tainter, 2006).Lee almost runs away from the community for feeling that they didn’tappreciate his well calculated black ox Christmas gift.

Theyconstantly criticize it to a point where he feels it will bring moreharm to the community than good. His spirit is so dampened that hecontemplates running away with his wife Nancy. He later learnt thatthe Bushmen treated everyone in a similar way to dispel arrogancefrom the act of generosity.

Botharticles highlight native communities surviving in very harshclimatic condition through intimate understanding of theirenvironment and nature. In their hardships, they have learnt the actof sharing as a community and have deep respect and understanding oftheir sustaining nature form where they derive their values. Theyderive their wisdom from their natural environment through closerobservations like in modern science, a fete that is vital for theirsurvival in their harsh environment. Their whole existence depends ontheir mastery of such skills through clear understanding of theirsurrounding through which their entire existence depends on.


Nelson,R. (1993). Understanding Eskimo science: Traditional hunters’insights into the natural world are worth rediscovering. Audubon,95(5),102-108.

Tainter,J. A. (2006). Social complexity and sustainability. Ecologicalcomplexity, 3(2),91-103.