Echo Loba, Loba Echo
Of Wisdom, Wolves, and Women
About the Book
A unique look at the cultural, environmental, historical, literary, metaphorical, and political role of the wolf.
Echo Loba, Loba Echo is a story about the metaphor of the wolf and how this is echoed in the lives and minds of people. A metaphor that embodies worldviews colliding, and the collision, the fallout, we live with still. It is a story about wolves’ own cultures, survival stories, acts of rebellion, and vital roles in maintaining healthy territories. And it is also a story about what we have been told to forget, or never even know, and what wolves show us about ourselves.
Through essay and poetry, the metaphor of the wolf, and loba – for she-wolf – is examined the way one might observe the light off a prism, in multi-dimensional ways. The associations are many and diametrically varied. Wolf as scapegoat, villain, outcast, blamed for human violence. Wolf as warrior, guide, mother to stray or orphaned children as well as her own pups. The Ojibwe word for wolf is ma’iingan: the one sent here by that all-loving spirit to show us the way. Wolf (Latin: lupus), which is another word for whore (lupa), for woman. Wolf, another word for backcountry. Yet the choice is not an easy duality, not simply between the notion of wolf as heroine or wolf as devil.
“Wolves have long been teachers, guides and companions for Indigenous peoples in many parts of the world. In Echo Loba, Loba Echo, author Sonja Swift takes on these roles of Wolf, weaving a beautiful, multi-hued tapestry of stories, poems and prose to illustrate the many and varied interfaces between humans and wolves. Swift emphasizes the critical importance of language in shaping people’s worldviews, in particular how communities relate to the places where they live and the species with which they share the land. She draws apt parallels between the treatment of women and wolves at various times in history—demonizing both, to create fear in order to control—thus facilitating an exchange of what was wild and beautiful for the illusion of safety and predictability, and allowing wild nature to be destroyed for economic gain. Swift comes down hard, and rightfully so, on the destructive effects of ongoing colonialism and current dominant economic paradigms on both people and places. Echo Loba, Loba Echo provides a wealth of information on wolves; a deep, thought-provoking look at the relationships among humans, the land, and other species; and a call for a profound and imperative change in these relationships—a call for co-existence and respect.” —Barbara J. Moritsch, ecologist, author of Wolf Time (2020) and The Soul of Yosemite: Finding, Defending, and Saving the Valley’s Sacred Wild Nature (2012)
“Sonja Swift takes us on a world journey—interweaving poetry, funny and sad stories, and autobiography—to remind us of our kinship with Wolf. To me as a Wolf ally, this brought tears but also inspiration to cherish what is otherwise endangered. This is a book to treasure.” —Darcia Narvaez, bestselling author of Embodied Morality and Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality, co-author and editor of numerous other titles
“Put simply, Sonja Swift’s book on wolves is a pleasure to read. Her style and knack for storytelling keeps you moving with her thoughts. Since the age of 12, I have been an avid reader of animal stories, especially those of Ernest Thompson Seton and Charles G.D. Roberts, and if there is one star in much of that writing, it would be the wolf. There is something about the wolf that seems to be like us. My first encounter with them was to hear a howl and I responded with a howl of my own. This in turn brought almost a conversation of howls between us. That was all, but it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I have since seen many wolf packs and been part of efforts to preserve them, especially in returning them to Yellowstone Park. The wild and the world are better off with them.” —Robert Bateman, renowned artist and wildlife advocate
“Echo Loba, Loba Echo is essential reading for those who wish to understand our intimate human connection with wolves and the wild. Sonja Swift takes the reader on a beautifully woven journey of wolves and words, across continents and cultures. The book ranges across wolf literature and research much like the wolf covers her territory: thoroughly and deeply. A love story to the wolf, Echo Loba, Loba Echo explores what is possible when the human heart understands and opens to the lessons of the wolf. Sonja’s words challenge us to understand the real wolf, as well as the metaphor. An echo of the old saying that a wolf lives by its feet, this book lives by its words about Loba. Swift’s poems and prose offer a sometimes personal vulnerability that encourages us to explore deeply what it means to be human in a world increasingly alienated from the very Earth and animals that sustain us. After reading this I wondered if I was sometimes more wolf than woman.” —Cheryl Alexander, author of the bestseller Takaya: Lone Wolf and co-author of the sequels Good Morning, Takaya and Takaya’s Journey
“Meticulously researched and beautifully rendered, Echo Loba spans continents, languages, traditions, and genres. Through visceral poetry and clear, lyrical prose, Sonja Swift shows us how the destruction of wolves is related to the destruction of our relationship with the Earth. This hybrid work is an incantation, a spell, a dream. Deeply informative and a pleasure to read, Echo Loba is a page turner, a mind opener, a waking. Before reading Echo Loba, I didn’t understand how the erasure of wolves has impacted my own relationship to fear, death, and the silenced guide within me. What does it mean to be wild? To be social? To learn from, rather than try to control, the cycles of the Earth? Echo Loba is rigorous in its examination of these questions and of the facets and impact of the ecological crises facing our planet. Exploring colonization, epistemicide, capitalism, belonging, and even language itself in her investigation of failed conservation efforts, Sonja Swift has accomplished the difficult feat of writing researched non-fiction that is lyrical, faceted, and personal. You will read this book quickly and be changed. The ideas and beauty of Echo Loba will remain with you long after you’ve closed it.” —Seema Reza, author of A Constellation of Half-Lives
“Following the trail of wolves through snowfields, sweet-smelling forest and down into the depths of memory and history, Swift takes us with her to know their story and the stories of the Indigenous peoples of their lands. This is an exciting major work woven in thoughtful research and skillful narrative destined to bring us to the wolves to show us where we are.” —Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, lax̌lax̌tkʷ, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies (University of British Columbia, Okanagan) and Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy