The Dakota Indians have a relationship with trees. It is cooperative and responsive. They feel with and understand the trees. Trees are companions on this Earth and they deserve respect. Dorothy Lee writes in Freedom and Culture,
“As I look out of my window now, I see trees, some of which I like to be there, and some of which I intend to cut down to keep them from encroaching further upon the small clearing I made for my house. The Dakota Black Elk Indian, however, saw trees as having rights to the land, equal to his own. He saw them as the ‘standing peoples, in whom the winged ones built their lodges and reared their families.”
In the perspective of Dorothy Lee, trees are objects to be controlled and manipulated, while the Dakota look at trees as ‘people’ that they relate with. They live with trees as treasured beings and treat them with appreciation. They have equal value with humans.
What would cause the Dakotas to give so much status to the trees that they experienced trees as ‘standing peoples.’ They obviously had a concept of and understanding of trees as more than western cultures do. Recent scientific studies substantiate a far greater intelligence capacity for trees and all things green and has provided some mind-boggling information about the green world. Trees have intelligence. They not only have intelligence, they have ‘brains.’ Trees communicate. Based on a scientific analysis of learning and memory, Stephen Buhner comments in Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm that: “In short, plants possess a highly developed root brain which works much as ours does to analyze incoming data and generate sophisticated responses.”
Who knew?! But, Buhner goes on to say that not only do they have a brain, but they also have social networks due to the fact that their brains, or neural networks extend out, sometimes for hundreds of acres, and communicate with all other plants! “…all plants are intelligent (just as are all mammals). They are all self-aware. They all engage in highly interactive social transactions with their communities.”
You are out walking in the woods. You are standing on the brains of an entire community of plant intelligence. They know that you are there. Through vast and intricate underground neural networks, they are communicating with each other about you! What do you know about them?