Now wildly popular, wild wolves were once eradicated from nearly all of America, Europe, and Mexico. Seen as a credible threat to livestock, their presence took on an evil perception, causing fear in humans and death to numerous wild wolves. In modern day culture, society depicts wild wolves as evil. Horror movies often show wolves with glowing eyes and sharp teeth, searching for prey and ravishing it to pieces.
In reality, wild wolves were once a very important part of the Native American culture. It’s hard to believe today, but Native Americans once domesticated the wild wolf, using them to help carry supplies. Though it is true that wild wolves are predatory animals, capable of chasing their prey at 37 miles per hour, they once helped Native Americans without harm. Their long legs and large feet suited them well for travel.
The symbolism of wild wolves as hunters influenced Native Americans, who tried to imitate the wolves’ predatory nature. Wolves are family creatures. Typically born in the spring, in a pack of five or six, the wolf pups emerge after a two-month gestation period. Within a couple of weeks they are moved to an outdoor location, where they play together while the “grownups” hunt. Within seven to eight months, the wolves are fully-grown, but they typically stay in the pack for another two years or so. After that time, they leave to start their own pack or often to search for a mate.Currently, Canada has the largest population of wolves. Alaska and Minnesota also have significant numbers. In 1995 wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone Park and there are currently about 78,000 wolves inhabiting North America.
Though I can’t imagine another group attempting to tame wild wolves, it is amazing that Native Americans once did. It is a testament to their ability to see creatures and humans alike as spiritual beings, and should be an example to all regarding the power of human kindness and spirituality.
Joseph Paige © 2006