Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 6, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 16



 Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 6, 2011 





By Christopher Nyerges

[Nyerges can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, 
CA 90041, or He 
is the author of 10 books, and leads wilderness 


I had to chuckle when I heard a "survivalist" say 
that he’d like to see the collapse of society so that 
he could start over from scratch. Really? Why 
would someone sitting behind a computer, driving 
a truck, and buying what he needs at the local 
grocery store want things to fall apart? Though 
such persons are usually clueless as to what it actually 
takes to start a society "from scratch," such 
sentiments do reveal a deep discontent with our 
current state of affairs.


History is full of folks who attempted to create a 
breakaway society, usually in search of a better, 
more idealistic, maybe even utopian, way of life. 
That’s how our American experiment began, at the 
expense of the Native Americans. This is how and 
why the Amish live they way they do, and persevere 
despite the ridicule of their neighbors. 


Hippies of the 1960s and ‘70s also tried to create 
separate communities, "communes," where they 
could farm, dance and sing, and attempt to put 
into practice whatever religion and politics they 
developed. Let’s examine the hippies.


A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview 
Vine Deloria, Jr. for Wilderness Way magazine. 
Deloria was named by Time magazine as one 
of the greatest religious thinkers of the 20th Century. 
Among his approximately two dozen books, 
he wrote "God is Red," which Wilma Mankiller 
(former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation) 
called "the flagship book of Native American spirituality." 
(Deloria passed away at age 72 in November 
of 2005).


Among other things, I spoke with Deloria about 
how hippies presumed to imitate Native Americans 
in both look and practices.


The reason that the hippie movement failed, Deloria 
told me, was not just because of drug use, 
though that was a significant factor. Hippies 
failed, said Deloria, because they failed to grasp 
the value of organizing tribally, and they ignored 
the value of customs. "I think they failed for lack 
of discipline and lack of commitment," he said. 
"People tried to create communities from scratch 
and it didn’t work. People were sincere, but they 
often lacked anything in common except a rebellious 
spirit. And in fact, a lot of Indian communities 
today have the very same problem. Extreme 
individualism is chaos and unjust to everyone."


Deloria also blames television and popular media 
for presenting a false picture of what traditional 
Indian culture was and is all about, so those who 
do sincerely try to pursue that end up pursuing a 


"In the world of ideas," continues Deloria, "Indian 
culture becomes a kind of deli where people 
pick and choose what they want to practice. Much 
of the appropriation is the projection of wishful 
thinking on different Indian symbols, such as the 
vision quest, sweat lodge, using the pipe, etc. My 
fear was that with so many Indians living in the 
cities with no experience with reservation communities, 
some of them would begin to think that 
the frauds actually represented the true tribal cultures. 
I can remember how popular the Billy Jack 
movies were and many Indian youths thought the 
‘ceremonies’ in that movie were what people actually 
did. A lot of it sounded good to people who 
knew nothing about Indian culture. And simply 
being an Indian in the urban area does not somehow 
magically mean you know anything of the 
traditional tribal culture."


It was an insightful interview with Deloria on a 
variety of topics where he shared – if you read 
between the lines – how to succeed at making a 
meaningful community, based upon following 
certain patterns from the past.


Unfortunately, the interview was never published 
in Wilderness Way because the owner/publisher 
told me that "It might offend Christian readers." 

"How on earth would they be offended?" I 

"Because his book is called ‘God is Red,’" said the 

I was shocked at his narrow-mindedness, and suggested 
that he read such books as "The Pipe and 
Christ," or Joseph Epes Brown’s 
"The Sacred Pipe" to see that 
there is less dichotomy between 
pure tribal religion and 
pure Christianity than meets 
the eye. This is not to imply 
that Deloria did not criticize 
Christianity. He certainly did, 
but Deloria was an "equal opportunity" 
criticizer, criticizing 
what he saw wrong in both Native 
American practices, Christianity, 
and elsewhere. 


For example, he harshly criticized 
televangelists such as 
Oral Roberts who once told his 
followers that he needed about 
$10 million for his new building 
or "God would take me 
home." He analogized televangelists 
to mainstream Christianity 
as the travelling pop 
shaman to traditional tribal 


"Except the televangelists are 
much worse," he explained. 
"They thirst for political power whereas the medicine 
men, even the phoneys, simply want some 
public recognition and status."


There is no shortage of guidelines from the past 
or present for "the right ways to live." It is silly to 
think that everything must be destroyed in order 
to create a higher and better way of life. 


Deloria brought up just a few of the principles that 
anyone can work to put into practice: Discipline, 
organizing within a community of like-minded 
people, and valuing your traditions and customs. 


Additionally, whenever anyone brings up "The 
Old Ways," it usually refers to such things as valuing 
family, home, respect for elders, respect for 
your surroundings, cooperation with others, and 
the ability to adapt.


Anyone wishing to seek the meaning of Real Survival 
cannot go wrong by beginning to apply these 
simple principles into your daily life.


LOS ANGELES, CA— In 1996, the Los 
Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed 
Council formed to address issues of inadequate 
communications between agencies 
with responsibility for water management. 
Five different water agencies were 
not exchanging information with the 
public or even among themselves, resulting 
in ineffective policy, ill will and occasional 
lawsuits. It was for this reason 
that, 11 years after founding Heal the Bay, 
Dorothy Green led a group in forming 
the Watershed Council.

On July 14th, the organization officially 
changed its name to Council for Watershed 
Health. This new name reflects the 
desire to create a sustainable Los Angeles 
by educating people everywhere that 
healthy waters mean healthy communities. 
By taking a proactive role through 
the very best research, analysis, and education, 
the organization can and will take 
the progress it has made over the past 15 
years and move it forward to achieve Vision 
2025, which sees greater Los Angeles 
as a region that is a model of sustainable, 
urban water¬shed management.

Since its founding, the Council has tackled 
issues that were difficult for government 
and business to address individually. 
Issues such as poor water quality, heavy 
reliance on imported water, park scarcity, 
imperiled open spaces, and ignored rivers. 
In 2000, the organization initiated 
the Water Augmentation Study (WAS), 
which proved that polluted stormwater 
in an urban setting could be safely used 
to augment local groundwater supplies. 
The implications of that research are being 
felt region-wide, resulting in better 
policies, practices and a healthier region 
for us all. The Elmer Avenue Neighborhood 
Retrofit in Sun Valley is an exemplary 
demonstration of these principles 
in action.

The Council continues to work toward 
a more sustainable southern California. 
Some recent achievements include:

• The completion of one of the first 
and most comprehensive “green streets” 
in Los Angeles at Elmer Avenue in Sun 
Valley. The street was completed through 
a partnership with residents, 14 government 
agencies, and consortium of non-
profits. By incorporating the latest in 
innovative water saving techniques and 
water saving elements, Elmer Avenue is 
able to capture more water yearly to than 
is used on the entire block! In addition, 
drought-tolerant landscapes were added 
to show that native plants will not only 
improve the environment, but can actually 
beautify a neighborhood. 

• Working with the community of 
Compton to develop the Compton Creek 
Watershed Management Plan. 

• Training hundreds of professionals 
through the Sustainable Landscape 
Seminars, learning how they can be good 
stewards of the land. 

• Providing a forum for discussion 
and greater understanding of issues 
related to the intersection of land use 
planning and watershed management 
through a quarterly symposium series. 

Dorothy Green had an incredible ability 
to push everyone to look at the bigger 
picture. Where others saw concrete, she 
saw the river. Where others saw a river, 
she saw the watershed. Where others 
saw stormwater pollution, she saw more 
drinking water. Dorothy also saw collaboration. 
She knew that she couldn’t make 
the vision a reality without bringing together 
diverse groups. As the Council 
for Watershed Health looks toward the 
future, we hope residents will share our 
Vision 2025:

We envision that by 2025 the Los Angeles 
region is a model of sustainable, urban 
watershed management. The region’s watersheds 
are managed for environmental 
health, social equity, and economic vitality, 
with clean waters, reliable local water 
supplies, restored native habitats, ample 
parks and open spaces, integrated flood 
management, and revitalized rivers and 
urban centers.

The Council for Watershed Health supports a 
healthy watershed for the region by serving as 
a robust center for the generation of objective 
research and analysis. The Council has established 
a platform for meaningful collaboration 
between governmental organizations, academic 
institutions, businesses and other nonprofit 
organizations with a vested interest in preserving 
the watershed. 

Founded in 1995 by leading environmental 
activist Dorothy Green, the Council for Watershed 
Health produces 
continuing research 
programs that examine 
water usage and quality 
as well as create and enhance 
preservation and 
conservation tactics. The 
trustworthy expertise 
and analysis that comes 
from the Council’s ongoing 
programs connects a 
diverse set of groups with 
overlapping missions in 
an effort to drive polices 
that will continually improve 
watershed quality.