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Welcome to the Pine River Review. Our sight is dedicated to our little homestead located along the Pine River tucked inside the Chippewa Nature Center's 1400 Acres of wild in Michigan's lower penninsula. We love to share our pictures, video, comment, and our own homespun music. Step inside our world as we celebrate this beautiful nook!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Journeys End- Part 6

Back in '75 when I reached the upper portions of the Nile River south of the Sudd swamp I began to meet tribal Africans rather than the Muslim folk of North Africa who had been so generous to me. The Dinka tribe of southern Sudan are migratory cattle herders and getting to know these folks caused me to reevaluate my notions of civilization. By that time I had been in the "Third World" long enough to be well acquainted with the gut wrenching poverty and over population that had shaken the conscience of this mid-western child of privilege to his bones.
The Dinkas however were not to be pitied by a mere 22 year old Michigander. They are giants to be held in awe and not just because their average height is a long and lean 6'4". For a people who's worldly possessions include not much more than a spear, shield, and body adornments like the beaded corsets pictured here, the Dinka culture has proved its practicality, illuminating African life from 3000 b.c. to the present. For 5,000 years Dinkas have followed the Nile floods that irrigate the grass lands tending to the cattle that are the center of their existence in this never ending cycle. They are a wildly happy and contented people living a life style that is the very definition of sustainability.
    When I compared it to my own western culture and its excesses I was humbled by the beauty that I began to perceive as my concept of what is civilised matured to the point where I didn't keep score by who had developed the fastest plane or built the tallest building. I was the savage who needed their counsel being the product of an industrial revolution barley a hundred years old and already grinding to a rusty halt.
      This autumn at the far reaches of the Pine River, my journeys end, 10,000 folks, whose numbers form another strange civilization, waited in the morning light to enter the 160 acre Wernette Farm to celebrate the Wheatland Music and Arts Festival. For 35 years they have returned to camp together in peace and community under starlit skies and to the sound of acoustic music and dancing feet, a celebration that lasts three days. Sustainability and traditional culture are a central theme of this gathering and it gave me great joy that at the end of this journey, like the one I took 35 years ago, a strange and wildly happy people held a torch whose sensible light burns brightly at the source of a great river.

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