I was reading recently about the Tlingit people of the northwest Pacific coast. They have an incredibly rich mythology illustrated and enhanced by the beautifully crafted art they create.
Much of their mythology focuses on the close relationship of the people with their animal kin. At one time, it’s believed, all life was one until Raven released the sun. Then, in the light, the people scattered: some to the woods where they assumed four legs and heightened senses of smell and sight, some to the air where they became the birds and some to the sea becoming fish.
And still, the kinship remains a sacred connection with all sentient life, which is not to say these people are all vegetarians.
But, I don’t think they should be thought of as cannibals either. I think the animal in his self-sacrifice is offering himself for the good of the clan. And, I think the people recognize this.
Anyway, a lot of stories are told through the exquisitely carved poles these people continue to produce about the inter-relationships between clansmen and animals. In some cases, like the story of Kat and his bear wife unions are formed and progeny produced reinforcing the notion of kinship considerably.
I think the concept is a good one. Respect for all life forms and the knowledge of our mutual dependence upon one another bodes well for our extended existence.