"Eagle is the symbol of observation," writes Sioux tribal leader Ed McGaa, known as Eagle Man. "The Sioux consider it to be the creature that best symbolizes immense wisdom. It learns from all that it sees. It is the eyes of the all-seeing Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, the mysterious unknown entity that created all things. When the Sioux see an eagle flying, they are reminded of Wakan Tanka's observation of their actions both what they do and what they don't, both good deeds and bad."
This passage is an example of the kind of spiritual literacy that is needed to halt the continuing destruction and desecration of the sacred planet in our time. We must look to animals and other elements of the natural world as spiritual teachers. We must open our eyes like the eagle to the manifold ways in which the Great Spirit is manifested in the happenings on the earth. McGaa calls this path "Nature's Way," and it offers an alternative to the Dominant Society's desacralization of nature, adoration of progress, and short-term thinking.
In eleven chapters, McGaa discusses insights we can pick up from nature's guides: the eagle's powers of observation, the bear's knowledge of medicinal properties of plants, the lion's gift for balancing male and female energy, the wolf's wisdom of one among many, the orca's intuition, the owl's pursuit of truth, and the tiger's struggle for freedom. Four other teachers address beliefs and practices that McGaa calls the "four horses of apocalypse." The cottonwood tree teaches us about global warming; the deer about the thinning of the ozone layer; the buffalo about mass extinctions, and the rat about overpopulation facing the planet.
Native American wisdom shines through the author's comments on the consistency and purposefulness of animals, the importance of truth telling, the need to acknowledge and maintain a relationship to the spirits of the Spirit world, and the value of laughter and a good sense of humor in a world of constant changes. McGaa salutes the power of rituals (vision quest, sweat lodges, and others) and calls us to work together in making Earth-cherishing a natural way of life.