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Excerpt from Endgame

The Alternatives Already Exist (p. 889)

From chapter "The Return of the Salmon"

Over the years I have been criticized because I do not suggest models by which people should live. “You’re only interested in tearing things down,” some people say, “not in providing alternatives.”

I do not provide alternatives because there is no need. The alternatives already exist, and they have existed—and worked—for thousands and tens of thousands of years.

Over the years I have heard many of the civilized ask how we could possibly live without civilization. It is a question I have never heard any Indians answer publicly. It is a question I have never asked, because I already know the answer. In private many Indians have answered this question I have never asked. They have said, “After civilization is gone from the earth and from your hearts, we will teach you how to live. We will not do it before then because your culture has been trying to kill us, and also because you would try to make money from what we say, or you would try to paste what we tell you onto your unworkable system. So until civilization is gone we will just hold on to our traditions and hold on to our existence. Later, if you come to us, we will help.”

What they say is true. And it is true also of the land. Once civilization is gone, once it is only a terrible, terrible memory, the land, too, will teach us how to live.