All posts by vette

America before Columbus

                                    America before Columbus                                            

 Sounds like it’s going to be about people indigenous to North America doesn’t it.  And it is. But it’s focus is actually on the environment… the land, water, animals, and plants. What it was like in both North and South America – as well as in Europe – prior to Columbus ‘discovering’ the new world.  I found this program to be fascinating. Some of my historical truths were shattered…and some were validated. National Geographic tells this story with the vision of the hawk (the big picture)  –  and with the focus of the mouse (the details).

The viewer is then left with the question –  What can be done  to change our future?

…….If we do not  learn from history – we are doomed to repeat it…….

 –   please watch this program  –

 You will also find a link to their site on our Favorites

INDIO TRAIL – what’s in a name?



INDIO is an abbreviation for In Dios – with God … Creator… He’s the CEO of my life. Trail…  that’s where we ‘walk’ on our  life journey.  So INDIO Trail is – Walking with Creator. The Bear is symbolic of evening… the time of life I’m in now. The lightning bolt represents change… changes that come into our minds.. our life. How we approach change can either destroy us – or – we can choose to learn from the lessons of change. If our choice is to learn, we achieve enlightenment-represented by the sun on the bear.

Society has went back and forth regarding ‘what to call’ the people indigenous to this land before it was renamed America. In Dios, American Indian, Native American, or as some   prefer… Tribal affiliation – Creek, Oneida, Chippewa, Sioux. And in the cyber world… we often just say NDN (pronounced ‘n-den’). I spent a lot of years trying to tell folks the Indigenous people found here when this land was ‘discovered’ were not called INDIANS because Columbus got lost on his way to a country called India. There was no such country in 1492. Not many embraced my truth because it conflicted with the version of history taught to them – and change isn’t easy.

Then help from an unexpected source – George Carlin. Yeah…the comedian. He explained the origins of the name ‘Indian’ and people ‘got it’. I’ve posted his exact words below so that he can share that message with you: This will probably be different from the history you were originally taught about Columbus and Indians. Thanks for reading with an open mind – Carlin can sometimes get in your face, but then… so does truth.  There is no intent to insult – See that ‘coming together time’ in the INDIO Trail logo – red, yellow, black and white – that is my sincere hope – that we can come together with honest communication. We all have historical inaccuracies in our personal history and in the histories of our ‘people’. Justice and honor are not on the ‘skin’ of man – but in the heart of mankind.                    And now… I give you George Carlin !!!!


George Carlin’s ‘Braindroppings’
“…Now the indians. I call them Indians because that’s what they are. They’re Indians.  There’s nothing wrong with the word Indian. “First of all, it’s important to know that the word Indian does not derive from Columbus mistakenly believing he had reached
‘India. ‘India was not even called by that name in 1492; it was known as Hindustan.

“More likely, the word Indian comes from Columbus’s description of the people he found here. He was an Italian, and did not speak or write very good Spanish, so in his written accounts he called the Indians, “Una gente in Dios.” A people in God.

In God. In Dios.  – Indians –  It’s a perfectly noble and respectable word.

“As far as calling them ‘Americans’ is concerned, do I even have to point out what an insult this is? —– We steal their hemisphere, kill  twenty or so million of them, destroy five hundred separate cultures, herd the survivors onto the worst land we can find, and now we want to name them after ourselves? It’s appalling. Haven’t we done enough damage? Do we have to further degrade them by tagging them with the repulsive name of their conquerors?….”You know, you’d think it would be a fairly simple thing to come over to this continent, commit genocide, eliminate the forests, dam up the rivers, build our malls and massage parlors, sell our blenders and whoopee cushions, poison ourselves with chemicals, and let it go at that. But no. We have to compound the insult.

“… I’m glad the Indians have gambling casinos now. It makes me happy that dimwitted white people are losing their rent money to the Indians. Maybe the Indians will get lucky and win their country back. Probably they wouldn’t want it. Look at what we did to it.”


Cause an Uproar

By now you’ve probably figured out that black bears are my totem, my company logo, my spirit animal, my favorite subject to photograph, just a real joy for me to be around.  Not that I don’t love other critters. I do. I’m not just a fan..I’m in awe of our environment. But, we all have our favorites when it comes to nature. We are dog lovers, cat people, tree huggers and ocean protectors. Some of us just can’t stay away from snakes – others are drawn to mountainous terrain, or the study of the planets and stars. When it comes to nature, we develop a ‘special’ connection to a species, a landscape, or an attribute of Mother Nature. And that ‘connection’leads us to a greater understanding of the inter-dependence of all living beings.

That understanding teaches us how important it is that we protect our environment…. if not for our ‘favorite’ … then for our own survival. We cannot live without the oxygen given to us by plants and trees.  We cannot live without clean water. We cannot live without clean air.  We are not separate from nature. We are inter-connected and totally dependent upon Mother Earth.

Why am I on this soap box today?  Well… recently my little home-town newpaper published an article about the local black bears.  The article basically informs the community that due to a recent dry period there are less fruits and berries and the hungry black bears have entered more heavily populated areas in their quest for a meal. It was reported that 2 years ago this region had a population of 2,500  – it is now estimated to be 4,000.  Black bears became protected in the 1980’s when over hunting pushed the black bear population to the brink.

The article continues – “So now that they are back to a healthy population, we are getting a high number of bear complaints, bear problems, and bear encounters”. The biologist said “We spend a lot of time telling people black bears are not predators. The only time I’ve seen any bear attacks in the area is when someone gets bit or scratched on the hand while trying to provide the bear with an ill-advised snack. Putting up trash, bird seed and fragrant pet food is the key to reducing bear vs. human run-ins”.

LOTS of people have moved into the territory of the bear. Many of these people do not heed the words of bear lovers or this particular biologist. And the bears pay for it.

The article concludes with “Now for the first time in nearly three decades the black bear game limit for hunters has been upped to two kills per season. We feel like it’s probably time for this. Our goal in bear management is now to level out the population”.                                       –  hmmmm  – level out the population…… –

You know how sometimes ‘timing’ can be ironic?  Well the same week this article about the black bear ‘boom’ was in our little weekly paper – the national news was informing the world that within days there will be 7 billion people on earth. By 2030 there will be 8 BILLION – Learn more here:

The Last Lions NTGEO
And this week – the struggle of nature to survive amid 7 Billion human beings was the focus of a film aired on National Geographic (NTGEO) The film – The Last Lions –  followed the life of a lioness with 3 cubs for one year. Just like the Black Bears in the mountains of N. Georgia…human encroachment onto the land of the African Lions has created displacement and dangerous situations that threaten future existence of this species. The story is compelling and beautifully shot and narrated. I highly recommend you take time to view it. Then go to National Geographic website – Cause an Uproar – for The Last Lions – be a voice !!!
In the last 50 years, lion populations have plummeted from 450,000 to as
few as 20,000.  Are this lioness and her young to be among the last lions?
Or will we as humans, having seen how tough, courageous and poignant their
lives in the wild are, be moved to make a difference?

-Support the film: Theaters are listed at  as well as has links to

-Join the Facebook Community: Like the film’s Facebook page to see film clips, deleted scenes, exclusive photos, and more!

-Trailer Donation Campaign: National Geographic will donate ten cents for each trailer view on YouTube (up to $100,000):

-Sweepstakes: Botswana Tourism and National Geographic Expeditions have teamed up on a sweepstakes offer for a trip for two to Botswana. Enter at

-Mobile Website: Visit on your smart phone to download lion wallpapers, a lion roar ring tone, and the film’s trailer.

-Mobile Texting program: Text LIONS to 50555 to donate $10 to National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.

After you see the film, talk to all your friends and family. Getting the buzz going is the best way to draw attention to the plight of wild lions and turn this trend around.

                  Thank you  – really… thank you for anything you do to help.

Shhhh…There’s a Bear ……

See the dark shadow down in the woodpile? That’s a young bear looking for a snack. We try to be quiet as we slowly walk out on the porch to catch a glimpse of our visitor.

We are so fortunate – we get lots of visits from bears…. Mama Bears with their Cubs. Wise old Bears and youngsters on their own for the first time – they are all fascinating. It always feels like a gift – a privilege –  when we have a ‘moment’ with wildlife. We get visits from deer, wild turkey, racoons, and yes.. the less appreciated but quite essential snakes, moles, and hornets. While we enjoy seeing all of the wildlife … it is the Bears that are most special – and who most easily captivate our attention.

We try to never forget they were here first – we  moved into their back yard. We have educated ourselves to their ways and we try to be good neighbors. We are careful to remove our bird feeders when the black bears awake from their winter sleep. They don’t know the food is for the birds.  And if they get lucky at one bird feeder or one carelessly placed dog dish – they will be back – looking for another handout.

Not everyone who ‘moves in on the territory’ of wildlife …. like the bears…. comes with the same attitude, the same desire to ‘be a good neighbor’. They don’t bother to learn about the environment or the habits and ways of the wildlife. They bring their own personal values and habits here and they expect the environment to adapt to their way of living. They just don’t seem to understand that the bird feeder and the garbage in the flimsy can are an ‘invitation to lunch’. They get annoyed when the bear ‘trespasses’ on their property. The bear has no idea about property ownership or manifest destiny mentality. The bear is just ‘looking for something to eat’.

And then there are folks who do absolutely absurd things when they visit or move to natural settings. Some of them actually put out food for the bears – so they can get a picture or a video for show and tell with their friends and family back in the ‘big city’. Here’s a real life … real sad… example of what happens when people behave without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Big Mama

Big Mama – that’s what the locals called her.  We had watched over several springs as she would introduce her new cubs to the splendor that surrounded their birth place. She was a wonderful Mom – taught them to run at the sound of a vehicle – “quick.. go climb the nearest tree until everything is safe for you again”.  She taught them the best places to find berries, grubs, roots, nuts, and even where the bees buried their honey stash in the side of the hill. This was her ‘territory’ and she thrived and raised healthy babies….. no one ever had an issue with her coming close to our homes….. until……

Until he moved to the mountain. He wanted a better view .. so he cut down trees with abandon.  He didn’t use them for firewood and didn’t seem to grasp the idea that when the rains came.. the trees kept the earth from eroding and washing down the sides of the mountain.  Didn’t matter… he wanted a better view. When he wanted to ‘see a bear up close and get some good pictures’ he spread out a feast of corn and watermelon.  That’s Big Mama sitting there in that ‘bait corn’.. behind her are some of the trees that were sacrificed for his ‘view’. Big Mama learned she could get an easy meal there. Big Mama learned to associate houses and people with food. See those tags on Big Mama’s ears?  When a Bear gets too familar with houses and people, they lose their fear of us. They will tear screen to get to the dog food on the deck…. they will scare people … because…. they are bears.  Big Mama had 2 tags at the time this picture was taken… Not long after… she got her 3rd strike when taking down a bird feeder not far from this ‘feeding zone’.  Three strikes… you’re out.  We miss Big Mama…. Not long after that – the man moved away. We do NOT miss the man who cut down all the trees and in our opinion – was responsible for the death of Big Mama.


Talking Trash

We live in a beautiful place … lots of wildlife…. trees… State Park with a 700 foot waterfall just up the road… so in addition to the locals we have thousands of visitors each month that come to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. And the vast majority of the local people and the tourists who visit this area really appreciate the environment. This vast majority leaves no trace of their visit. They are renewed by nature and in return, this vast majority are effective stewards of Mother Earth – the environment.

But there are those folks – you know – themthey – infamous for saying and doing the wrong thing to the dismay of the rest of us.  They come here to take pictures and video ….posing on.. in front of… or beside particularly spectacular sites.

So what are they thinking as they toss their fast food bag out the window of their car? Or take a walk on one of the trails thru the woods and decide – this would be a good place to change the baby’s diaper – and just leave it on the side of the trail !!!  Maybe they are thinking,  “it’s just one water bottle.. one beer can”. Someone will pick it up”

                                           Someone does pick up the trash they toss away.  We pick up the litter on the highways and the trails. It’s NOT an enjoyable way to spend the day-but it is rewarding.


Bears and other wildlife are attracted to the roads and trails by the smell of our trash. Some of them end up losing their lives investigating that milk shake cup. We pick up the trash to help protect the wildlife.



                                                  When trash is left on the mountain trails or on the sides of the roads – it can be disasturous for our water supplies downstream. That trash runs into the streams, creeks and rivers that are the source of our drinking water !!  We pick up the trash to help protect our water.


Sometimes you have to just get out of that ‘it’s not my job.. I didn’t create the problem.. why should I clean up someone else’s mess” kind of attitude.  It is not our fault there is trash on the roads and trails or in our neighborhoods. It is probably not our responsibility to clean it up.  But as a wise Elder once said to me when I was complaining about doing some difficult work to fix a mess I did not create “IF not you – then who will do it”

They will always be among us.  It’s up to each of us to decide who we are and what we are willing to do to make a difference. What are you doing for Mother Earth? 

Send a comment – along with a picture if you have one – we love to share inspiration –      vette       


When I wrote about cyber talking circles (July archives) – asking people to comment about positive steps they were making using technology – internet, phones, tv, radio, etc. – I was looking forward to the response. At first I was a bit disappointed. You see, I set this site up to be open to all comments – but retained the right to publish or trash any comments received. This site receives many comments, but you won’t see many published.  Most of them go to the trash. Because most of them are trash. Much like the spam emails that fill our inbox. Advertising everything from viagra to fake documents. So at first glance I thought “bummer, not many people using the internet in a good way”.

Then that voice – you know that voice – the tiny inaudible voice that rises up in your sea of thoughts … much like the breath bubbles of the creatures living underwater rise to the top of the still lake and get your attention. The thought was “Well… aren’t you a bit egotistical… thinking that if positive action comments are not being reported to you… well, there must not be much positive action taking place”.  I had to laugh.  One would think after all these years… I would have conquered ego and be awash in the glow of humility. Go ahead… laugh with me. Laughter is powerful medicine.

The voice kept bubbling up ideas. Get yourself in listening mode – open your eyes- go out there yourself and research how technology is being used.  Sure I found social media – we are awash in social media. Some of it is good and useful and some of it is trash. Some people can ‘use’ social media and go about their real lives, and some folks have lost their real lives and relationships in pursuit of a fantasy they have ‘created’.

It’s those people who are ‘using’ media and technology to change the world that I was interested in.  And they’re out there!  The ‘occupy’ movements going on now – they organized thru twitter, facebook, email. The original group “Occupy Wall Street” seemed to have a clear purpose. As the ‘movement’ has spread, the purpose has become splintered. Support for an organization or movement fades without that clear focus.

Whale Wars – ever watched that? They ‘use’ tv, radio, and other media to promote their purpose. Their message is powerful and effective because they have a clearly defined purpose….they have a cause they believe in.. a cause to which they are willing to dedicate their lives. Their work is in an isolated area – and without satellite TV and the internet we would probably have never heard of them.   They would be ‘doing the work’ – but we wouldn’t be involved – we wouldn’t be sending money or spending our time promoting their cause if they weren’t so effective in making us aware.

Still looking around… I’ll check back in and let you know what more I find. If I can figure out how to do it… I’ll set up a link button on this site so we can check in on those that are out there working for positive change. Send me a comment and link info to what you find… please.

Don’t get lost in your own thoughts –  vette