"Ahwoooooooooo!" the little girl howls, speaking the universal language of wolf.
This 21st century little Red Riding Hood girl is not in danger, her father doesn't have to kill a wolf to prove his power or manhood; and most importantly of all, the child is speaking for wolf. For wildness and a new generation of tolerance. To speak the language of another species, to howl like a wolf, is to embody empathy. And evolution.
Sometimes popular culture can expose and also help evolve our prejudices. An example is our ever-shifting attitudes toward wolves. "Hey there, Little Red Riding Hood," a new car commercial opens with the throaty pop song as a sleek, red car zooms along a darkly wooded highway.
The Red Riding Car commerical is like an advertising version of a very old Native American lesson taught by many tribes. For indigenous peoples, Wolf is sacred; she teaches independence, but also loyalty and fierce family bonds. The late Native teacher, Paula Underwood, an Iroquois oral historian, told the story passed down to her from generations of elders: "Who Speaks for Wolf" This story asks those with trigger-itch prejudice against wolves to stop, like the father, and carefully consider his children's future. Imagine an ecosystem again stripped of wolves, without another top predator to help balance this green world.