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When Wayne Freimund, the Director of the University
of Montana's Wilderness Institute in the School of Forestry,
asked me to plan and be the overall guide for the Institute's
twenty-second annual Wilderness Lecture Series (offering
to publish this Proceedings under my edit), I knew there
were some people that I wanted to bring in simply because
their written work or life work was so compelling and so
deeply true to how I thought about nature and about the
possibilities of transforming our relationship to it. And
I knew that I wanted the Native people from right here,
the Bitterroot Salish, to have more than a token presence
in the series. We need to hear the words, the place-names,
the names of the trees and shrubs and birds and insects
and waters and mountains and winds from right here where
we live, the stories and songs that are the voice of this
place in the life of the indigenous people. I knew I wanted
someone to open the series who could place the whole of
the last twelve thousand years of history into the larger
context of the last two hundred thousand years of our pre-history,
and beyond, and I wanted speakers who would work directly
from their experience, who would be subjective, intuitive,
anecdotal, story-tellers as well as thinkers and activists.
I wanted people who embodied in themselves and their work
what the Chinese call xin: heart/mind. And I wanted people
who had been in the work of social and ecological change
for some time, for at least a couple of decades. All of
this is what I meant by calling it the "Poetics"
of Wilderness. It had to do with people who were willing
to be open and to take risks and who had some dreams and
vision that they had worked to realize in the world.