Posted by: Tad McIlwraith | June 3, 2011

Making Connections with People and Animals

By Christina Brown

More than halfway through field school already and I can’t help but think of how much I have been able to learn from the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had so far. I’ve made lots of new friends and I hope to make plenty more. My name is Christina Brown and I am another one of the 12 anthropology students living at the Elders’ Lodge. I am in my first year at Douglas College and so far it has been an amazing experience. I first became interested in anthropology through taking an archaeology class. When I found that archaeology didn’t feel close enough to the people it was meant to discover, I expanded my focus to encompass all disciplines so that I might find what interested me. I took introduction to anthropology with the instructor that is here with us [That’s me!, -Tad, the ed.] and he told us about the field school. As soon as he told me about the field school I was interested. I love anthropology because I am a person who loves to learn about people and share stories and experiences. I suppose, for me, anthropology should be the natural choice.

So far one of the most stimulating events that has happened to me is going horseback riding, but it wasn’t my horseback ride. Soon after we arrived in Enderby, my fellow student and I made friends with a family that has a horse that is unbroken. My friend and I decided to work with the horse because she was so friendly and we loved spending time with the family. During this time I had spoken with a few people and watched some tapes with a co-student at the daycare and heard a lot about speaking with animals and asking their permission and being respectful. My friend who was working with the horse (and has much more experience) and myself had worked with the horse enough and decided it was time for her to experience a rider. The owner came out and saw one of us on the horses back and was ecstatic. She immediately came over and started to pet her horse. She shared with us that she has always felt a strong connection with this horse and began to speak with it. She spoke to her in a soft, soothing voice that calmed the horse immediately. She spoke to the horse, asking for patience and for the horse not to kick or throw her off. Very shortly we were helping the owner of the horse onto the horse’s back. The horse didn’t even move when the owner was on her back and, in fact, had a much more noticeable calm.

It has been remarkable seeing the connection between animals and humans and how they work together and help each other. I have learned through stories and speaking with people, that humans have a very direct connection to each other and have a very constant relationship. I have learned so much in the past two weeks and I can’t wait to learn more. I am going to continue working with my new four-legged friend and continue building more relationships with some two-legged ones. A big thank you to everyone who has taught me these valuable lessons.



  1. Christina: Nice story. Interesting how anthropology can work in so many different ways. Bob

  2. Hi Christina.

    good for you -welcome to the old world, where we are not urbanized beyond capacity to recognize our relationship with all the additional friends in our world who love us and are only looking for us to recognize it. Take the horse relationship and expand to squirrels and brothers and you will be well on the track towards building a life of reciprocal respect with the other people that do, in fact, inhabit our world.

    Because of transformations related to our southwest asian mythological base many believe that we (humans) are here to have “dominion over the beasts of the earth.” There is a real alternative perspective alive in the world, and you seem to have begun to envision it. The distance between “animal” and “human” is not that far at all, and I, the friends I work with, and I dare say Tad, recognize the distance is so slight that is not inappropriate to refer to some as brother, uncle, grandfather, little sister, and act towards them with the same level of respect and care that we would to our genetic brother, uncle, grandfather, or little sister. Wrap your head around this – up here we call it the Dineh Way- and I guarantee your life will be both different and better.

    take care down there.

    Norm easton

  3. this just proves that animals are so much more than “tools”, but rather that they are beings that have a soul and amazing personalities. a level of trust must be built up so you can be comfortable with each other. it sounds like the entire experience is having a tremendous impact on you and the group!!

  4. Christina: I think there is much that you can explore through anthropology and through different cultures, and even mythology that will touch on human/animal interaction.

    Very glad that you have had this golden opportunity so early in your academic life and in whatever career you end up with. The great thing about anthro is that even if you do not end up working as an “anthropologist” there is much that is applicable in almost every other field (I would even say within veterinary medicine!).

    All the best with your future endeavours,

  5. Hi Christina and Hailey,
    I just saw a new book and thought of your project. It is called “The Animal Connection, A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human” by Pat Shipman (ok maybe she is an archaeologist). See the website and link to an article about the book at Hope your project finished up well!

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