People of the Deer (Anglais) Broché – 30 novembre 2004
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Farley Mowat has combined a fine sensitivity for the natural environment with a sharp eye for the details of man's place within it. It must be exceedingly rare in the history of anthropology that such an inexperienced investigator has taken such pains to get to the source of his information. Mowat lived among the Ihalmiut for over a year to write the book. During that time he witnessed the rapid deterioration of the small group which remained, and tried to examine the causes of their decline. With very deft prose for such a young writer, he points out the difference between the intentions and the actions of the European discoverers of The People (as they refer to themselves) and the consequences of such disparity. The Ihalmiut were exploited in much the same way as any other tribal band found wandering by the early explorers. However, as Mowat points out, this was an exceptional group which had survived the extreme rigours of a barren land (known to us simply as The Barrens) for so many generations, only to be felled by contact with the very race which might have provided them with so much assistance.
The Ihalmiut are long gone from their homeland but their story serves to remind us of our often difficult relationship with the land and the people on it. Perhaps, as a race of city-dwellers, we need to consider our place in the natural environment more than ever. Mowat's work is a just accounting of where we stand in relationship to nature. Nor does he suggest that we should all go and live in the tundra. Yet People of the Deer is a source of considerable inspiration for those now ready to reflect on the unbalancing effect of contemporary values.
Wonderful. Depressing. Sad. Lovely. Is there anything we can still do about this? Is there anything we can do for ourselves?
This was his first book about the People. The story is sad - so sad that the reader must put down the book every now and then to get back to the present. Mowat wrote a follow-up to the story of the People, "The Desperate People", published in 1959. The style fits our modern age better, but the story of the People gets worse.
Be sure to buy and read both.
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