The Ojibwe Creation Story: Turtle Island

Creation Story - Urban Hermits

Hi all,

I was recently introduced to the Ojibwe creation story and was fascinated by its contrasts, as well as similarities to the christian creation story. Thus, I thought I would share a little bit about it. The tale is often referred to as “Turtle Island” and consists of a flood that destroys a previous land. The animals, along with a human, are aware of a need for a new land to survive and thus come together to create a new world, thanks to various creatures and a turtle, in particular, who bears the weight of this new land. Here is a quote:

Nanaboozhoo took the piece of Earth from Muskrat’s paw. Just then, the turtle swam forward and said, “Use my back to bear the weight of this piece of Earth. With the help of Kitchi-Manitou, we can make a new Earth.” Nanaboozhoo put the piece of Earth on the turtle’s back. Suddenly, the wind blew from each of the Four Directions, The tiny piece of Earth on the turtle’s back began to grow. It grew and grew and grew until it formed a mi-ni-si’, or island in the water. The island grew larger and larger, but still the turtle bore the weight of the Earth on his back. Nanaboozhoo and the animals all sang and danced in a widening circle on the growing island. After a while, the Four Winds ceased to blow and the waters became still. A huge island sat in the middle of the water, and today that island is known as North America” (The Grand Council Treaty #3)

I found the theme of creatures coming together very interesting and contrasting to the theme of a god creating a world to be dominated by humans. The altruism of the turtle is also inspiring. It makes me contemplate how fundamental beliefs such as these can affect how we perceive our surroundings and our role as stewards to the earth and its inhabitants. I encourage you to take a look at the complete story, by clicking this link. It is brief but interesting.

To go along with this story, our own Lauren has created an illustration of the turtle. Thanks to the Grand Central Treaty #3 website, the government for the Anishinaabe Nation #3 of Canada for hosting the story.

Illustration: Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits, September 2013


NRA-Sponsored NBC Sports Show Kills Elephant for Entertainment

American network, NBC, aired a big-game episode on their sports channel of NRA-sponsored Under Wild Skies that depicted the host shooting an elephant multiple times, and finally between the eyes. As many know, elephants are listed as both a threatened and endangered species under the endangered species act. By supporting the show, NBC, the NRA, and the show’s sponsors have undermined everything that conservationists have accomplished with elephants by promoting the trophy killing of the endangered species on their program.

A backlash started this week after articles on the issue were published by the Huffington Post and Daily Mail UK that brought attention to the fairly new television series. Hundreds of comments can still be seen at NBC’s facebook page. The network remained silent, posting trivial tv agendas in an attempt to disengage the furious viewers. Many have stated that the television show should be canceled or a boycott would ensue, others stating that the network should make amends by donating to an elephant conservation. However, instead of responding in a tasteful manner, the network released a heartless statement with the Los Angeles Times

In response to public outcry, NBC Sports Network has decided not to rebroadcast this particular episode, but will continue to air “Under Wild Skies.”

“We’ve listened to our viewers and will not air that particular episode of ‘Under Wild Skies’ again. We’re also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process because this content should not have aired,” the network said in a statement. “While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of ‘Under Wild Skies’ and other series.”

Media has hit a new low. As you can see, the network has taken an unapologetic tone and has dismissed the act. Commercial hunting of the species will be illegal this coming year. NBC is sticking with their argument that the killing was legal at the time, but provide no mention of the moral and ethical considerations.
The host of Under Wild Skies claims in an interview that big-game hunting helps poor areas in Africa. The show’s facebook page has also released photos of what it claims is the elephant meat being delegated to locals in Botswana. One image’s caption states, “Hungry people, who rely on the meat harvested from their villages quota of elephant.”

This quota claim happens to be a reflection of corrupt politics. Quotas are desperately used to entice income from big-game hunters, when other systems for income could be introduced that protect and conserve species. Conservationist Dereck Joubert has argued that,

“Hunting contributed much less to the economy of Botswana than it reported. In fact it added less that 0.27% to the GDP. The Wildlife Management Association (Hunters) said that it added P60M a year ($6M) but at least 80% of that stayed in US or Swiss bank accounts and the number, when we investigated. was a turnover number not a taxable profit number, so in essence hunting in Botswana earned less than one high end eco tourism camp.  In fact one acre of land in prime location under hunting versus under tourism at much more environmental impact generated roughly 1,300% LESS income for government and communities. Less income leads to more poverty and increased poaching.”

At the end of a day, a kill is a kill. Whether this act was done legally or illegally is irrelevant. There is one less elephant in the wild for the sake of entertainment.

Greg Hughes, Senior Vice President, Communications, NBC Sports Group, has responded to viewer complaints with a similarly disconnected message:

Hughes, Greg (NBCUniversal) <>

Thanks for writing to us.
We take viewer feedback seriously, and we will not air that particular episode of Under Wild Skies again. We’re also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process.
While this form of hunting is legal, we understand many find it objectionable.
Thanks again for your concern.

You can write your thoughts on NBC social media pages or contact NBC executives and PR personnel directly at their public emails –,,,,,,,,,,,

Here is a petition to remove the show, already with 47,000 supporters.
On the bright side, it is wonderful to see the general public passionately taking protest. We can all do our part to change things for the better. Pressure in numbers is a powerful tool.

Black Bear Cubs in Action

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has taken in 16 orphaned black bear cubs this year. They can be seen live on the link below having a great time in the center’s newly created Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. The space was made possible by donations and help from supporters. The Center’s President Ed Clark commented that the bears ““…have very strong personalities. Some of them are timid and want to be left alone, others are bossy and want to run the show. We see them wrestling together. They just received a little water bowl earlier this week, and their favorite things seems to be dumping it and then sitting in the bowl.”

Great work! The cubs are truly a joy to observe in all of their adorable and clumsy rough-housing.

Watch them here!
Screenshot of cubs playing at The Wildlife Center of Virginia

Sources: The Wildlife Center of Virginia, 2013; Cubs on Camera, Connie Stevens, WVTF Radio, 29 May 2013;

Its Autumn…Time to Make Pickles!!

Hey all,

Happy Autumn! This is a great time to start preserving all of those vegetables that have been popping out in the garden this past month. Pickles are a personal favorite of mine and a good way to utilize the produce from what are generally very fruitful cucumber or zucchini plants. That being said, you can pickle or can just about anything! I am going to share with you all a simple recipe for delicious pickles. However, bear in mind that I am not processing pickles, which is essential if you wish for yours to last a couple months. Thus, for this recipe, I would recommend eating them within a week or so. Now, lets get started!

There are a few essentials you will need. A few Ball glass jars will do well, I would suggest quart jars. This recipe will be for 6 pints, so grab 3 quart jars. Also, make sure you have distilled vinegar and pickling salt.

pickle making

To make 6 pints of pickles, you’ll need about 3-5 lbs of cucumbers/zucchini. Also, chop up a whole white or vidalia onion and grab several cloves of garlic. Soak the cucumbers, onion, and garlic in ice water. I like to put them in a large bowl with some cold water on the bottom and then put ice over the top to melt.

Prep: Sterilize the jars by washing them in the dishwasher and laying them right side up on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 225 degrees for at least 15 minutes. In the mean time, put the tops in boiling water. Near the end of the 15 minutes, prepare the brine by putting 3 cups of water, 3 cups of distilled vinegar, and 4 tablespoons of pickling salt in a pot and bringing it to a boil.

Once the produce is mostly submerged in ice water and is cool, pack the pint jars (after they’ve cooled, of course) with sliced pickles, onions, garlic, and whatever spices you’d like. I recommend dill weed or seeds, mustard seed or powder, coriander seed, black peppercorns, red chili flakes, and turmeric. Feel free to try new spices, too! I also recommend chopped jalapeño or habanero for those who like it hot!

pickle making

Once you’ve packed your jars with your produce and splices, pour the hot brine over the top, filling the jars almost up to the top. Next, put on the lids that were boiled. Use tongs, as they’ll be hot. Using a hot pad, tighten the lids and let them sit until they cool. Then put them in the fridge and they’ll be ready to go within 24 hours!

pickle making

“…The Deck Stacked Against Them”: Health problems in Broiler Chickens


Hey all,

A few weeks ago I posted about some of the action on behalf of animals being taken by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which does a lot of good work. I came across this powerful story about a Ariana Huemer’s pet chicken and some of the issues with the current poultry industry. Have a look, here:

Title Quote: Huemer, Ariana. “My Pet Chicken”. 2013. Animal Legal Defense Fund.


Support Elephants – iWorry March

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has created the campaign iWorry, a global effort to bring awareness to protecting elephants. At the current rate of poaching, African Elephants could face extinction in the wild by 2025.

Take a look at the website and join a peaceful march in one of 15 cities around the world on Friday 4th October. You can also show your support by joining the digital march for elephants if you are unable to attend the march!

Hermit Tools: Ka-Bar Hobo Utensil


This baby I like to call the hobo companion, and man let me tell you, if you are a person concerned about our throwaway society, this thing is going to appeal to you.

I bought this guy at a Cutco store I worked at a while back. It sat in a drawer for three years, no one ever knew it was there because no one actively made an effort to display it. When my interest in environmentalism and sustainability came around to my daily life, I knew I had to have this thing.

You start to think about the practical applications of it; if you are always on the go like myself, chances are you will occasionally stop at places that only have plastic utensils. Shoot, there are businesses that give you plastic utensils even if you don’t want them.

If there is one thing our society clearly does badly, it is the production of plastics, a material that is not chemically reducible.

And I no longer had the desire to participate in that aspect of our society. I wanted this to help me curb that.

The thing I love about it, is while at first glance it appears to be nothing more than a hobo Swiss Army knife, it actually comes apart into separate utensils, not just for ease of use but also so you can actually wash and clean.


The knife itself is lock back, and the utensil is made from stainless steel. While certainly something can be said of the process used to physically produce this item, it is incredibly useful if you make the effort to carry it around with you. And at only 30 bucks, it’s a very low cost kind of investment you can feel really good about.

You can purchase the hobo tool at Ka-bar

Baby Ostrich Ballet!

This makes me forever happy.

Jane Goodall and TACARE

Inspiring TED Talk by Jane Goodall, speaking about TACARE, a community-centered conservation and development program that partners with communities near Gombe Stream National Park.

Source: TED Talks, June 2007

Favorite Instagram Accounts!

Okay, so last month invested in my first smartphone (android!), and have gotten very distracted on Instagram. Below are a few of my favorite accounts to follow!

@biddythehedgehog Biddy the Hedgehog is always on an adventure, partaking in beautiful hikes that I would like to be on right now. Did I mention he’s a hedgehog? Super freaking adorable in a being-in-the-woods kind of way.

@umemichi77 Beautiful and serene shots of succulents and cacti. This is my plant-porn recommendation.

@avianrecon This account is managed by a falconer, bird trainer, and raptor rehabilitator. Here you will see into the daily lives of the resident birds-of-prey and you will fall madly in love with them.

@perdigonporkins Meet Perdigón Porkins, a big ol’ piggy with a dog best friend. Perdigón is adorable and has captions with attitude. ¡Gronff!

@silas_the_sennie Silas the Senegal parrot is entertaining to watch. He has a HUGE personality. From attacking his toys, to cuddling, to eating chili peppers on the beach, I can’t get enough of him.