Warrior’s Path

Eagle Eye picked up a small rock beside the stream. He stood quietly for a few minutes, watching a small bird perched on an oak limb overhanging the other side of the stream. Just as the kingfisher swooped down to catch a large minnow, Eagle Eye threw the rock, hitting the bird squarely in the back. Two feathers fell from the bird as the fish fell back into the water and the kingfisher struggled to maintain a course over the top of the water.

Eagle Eye waded into the stream and retrieved the feathers as they floated between the rocks of a small rapid.

He carefully placed the feathers in his belt and continued wading across the stream. Eagle Eye had proven himself many times before and did not have to participate in the bison kill today. Instead, he wanted to gather a few more items with which to make a present for his young bride to be. On the other side, he picked his way up the rock face, hoping to find another kingfisher feather and to surprise his father and the rest of the hunting party on the other side of the hill.

In the village, Silver Moon worked with her mother and grandmother to select the right herbs to mix with the yams and maize. Everyone looked forward to a good meal tonight, if the bison were caught and killed early enough.

Eagle Eye pulled himself over the top of the hill to see his father, brother and cousins walking two bison his way. He did not want to ruin the hunt by scaring the bison so he crouched down in the small trees of a small ravine. He hoped his scent would not carry far so he bent down low and concentrated on the ground between his feet.

Within minutes, Eagle Eye had fallen into a meditative trance. He saw himself walking with a young boy years from now, walking along this same cliff above the stream. The boy was explaining the meaning of the treaty that had been recently signed by the Council. In the treaty, trappers would be allowed to pass through this area without fear of being harassed. In return, the trappers would give the members of the local villages any extra furs the trappers had carried with them on the way back to their own villages. Eagle Eye saw that the trappers had no intention of carrying extra furs with them but he understood it was better to keep the trappers on the main road then let them wander all over the countryside and ruin the hunting grounds.

“Eagle Eye, over here,” yelled Deer Tracker, Eagle Eye’s brother. Eagle Eye woke from his trance to see his brethren leaning over a bison. Eagle Eye stood up and waved.

Silver Moon served Eagle Eye first, as was the custom, making sure she gave him extra portions of food, for he was credited with getting the bison to lay down and die with very little fight. Eagle Eye’s father stood up to speak.

“Tonight, I give this bison to Silver Moon’s family in honor of her union with my son, Eagle Eye. I wish that the ease with which we brought down the bison is a sign that Eagle Eye and Silver Moon will share many happy years together.” All the families of the village gave a hearty nod of agreement. “With my son’s ability to bring food to the table and Silver Moon’s ability to prepare bountiful meals, they shall be able to provide a big and joyous family to make our ancestors proud.”

A few weeks later, while Eagle Eye and Deer Tracker were showing their young cousin, Tecumsah, how to prepare the tools to make arrowheads, Silver Moon set out to gather the flowers of starry chickweed in order to make a paste to put on the dried bison meat.

Silver Moon knew that the only place where the chickweed grew was not far from where the bison was killed. For her, this was a good sign for it showed the bison’s spirit approved.

Although Silver Moon seemingly walked out of her way for nearly two hours to get to the main path, she knew it would be easier to take the path around the base of the hills and then take the gentle slope up to the top of the hill where the chickweed bloomed in the shade of the trees overlooking the stream.

When Silver Moon got to the top of the hill, she was very happy. Where the stream flowed toward the north, Silver Moon could the next large hill nearly a mile away. To the east and south, she could see the mountains. All about her feet were the wondrous white blooms of the starry chickweed. Silver Moon sat down in a small bare spot and closed her eyes. She fell into a deep sleep. In a dream she saw a small boy talking to her telling her that he was now inside her but would soon be out on his own, able to take care of himself despite her difficulties. Silver Moon woke up a few minutes later with a smile on her face, knowing that she was pregnant with the next great heir of the lineage of Eagle Eye and Silver Moon. She gathered the flowers she wanted and headed back down the hill.

About an hour along the path, Silver Moon noticed yellow flowers growing in a clearing a few hundred yards into the woods. When she got to the clearing she was pleased to see a small bed of trout lilies. Silver Moon dug into the earth and pulled out a few dozen bulbs. She decided she could use the bulbs for a meal later in the week. Just as she was walking back into the woods, Silver Moon stepped on a branch that made a slight metal click before the trap snapped close on her ankle.

Silver Moon screamed with pain but no one could hear her because she was too far from her village and the next nearest village was several miles away toward the mountains. She fell back on the ground, aggravating the injury to her ankle. Several hours later, Silver Moon became conscious again and realized what had happened. She looked down at her ankle and saw the red gash and bones twisted out of place. Through the searing, blinding pain, she reached down and pulled the jaws of the trap apart. She passed out again from sheer exhaustion. In her delirium, Silver Moon saw the small boy again. He told her that he knew this would happen and that he had directed the ignorant trapper to place the trap near the trout lily rather than a bed of ferns further on. He showed her how to make a healing medicine by chewing the trout lily and chickweed in her mouth. She would get nourishment from chewing on the plants and could use the paste to cover the wound. She awoke when the sun had nearly passed behind the hills and put the plants in her mouth. She chewed them for a few minutes, wanting desperately to swallow them but followed the advice of her unborn son and rubbed the paste on the torn flesh of her ankle. She passed out again.

Eagle Eye was too busy with Tecumsah to notice that Silver Moon had not prepared a noontime meal. However, when the sun was low in the sky, Eagle Eye began to wonder why Silver Moon had not returned to put together one of her delicious evening meals. He walked with Deer Tracker to visit Silver Moon’s mother. Silver Moon’s mother had not seen Silver Moon since morning and explained that she did not expect to see her until late in the day because Silver Moon had gone to gather starry chickweed where the bison had died. With Deer Tracker, Eagle Eye grabbed Tecumsah and headed toward the stream. They would take the direct route and avoid the long journey to the path.

“You will call me Black Bear,” the young boy told Silver Moon, “for my skin will be covered with dark black hair when I am born. For me to be born, you must follow everything I tell you because I have been sent by our ancestors to protect your lineage and the lineage of my grandchildren who will live to see the valley of the stream fill with water. Although wise in the ways of the hunter, Eagle Eye is not wise in the ways of love. He has set out along the stream to reach the hill where the bison lay a few moons ago. You must rest now and dream no more. I will wake you in the morning when Eagle Eye approaches.”

Eagle Eye, Deer Tracker and Tecumsah reached the base of the cliff within a hour. However, in the dark, it was difficult for them to find good footing and what should have taken fifteen minutes to reach the top took them nearly an hour. At the top, Eagle Eye called out to Silver Moon but got no reply. In the silence that followed, Eagle Eye heard a voice call to him but he could not hear the words nor could Deer Tracker or Tecumsah hear the voice. Eagle Eye bent down in a spot not far from where he had hidden from the bison and closed his eyes.

“I am Black Bear, son of Eagle Eye and Silver Moon,” the young boy told his father. “I have been taking care of mother, whose ankle has been bitten by the jaws of a trap foolishly set by an untrained man from the villages of the Far East. It is useless for you go further tonight. Set camp here for I want you to see the view from this hilltop and describe to me and my siblings as we grow up.”

Eagle Eye stood up and told Deer Tracker and Tecumsah that they would be setting down on the hillside for the night.

Just before dawn, Black Bear walked into one of Eagle Eye’s dreams. “You will walk to the path from here. About an hour down the path, you will see a clearing to the left with a patch of yellow flowers shining in the sunlight. Hidden in the underbrush, you will find my mother, Silver Moon. When you find her, you will not remember what I’ve told you.”

Within an hour of waking up, Eagle Eye had rushed down the hill and over the well-worn floor of the path to the clearing. There, he found Silver Moon with her mangled foot. With the aid of Deer Tracker and Tecumsah, Eagle Eye was able to get Silver Moon to the village healer. Eight moons later, Silver Moon bore Eagle Eye a son. At first concerned of the meaning of it, they chose Black Bear as the name of their son with the dark black hair on his arms and legs.

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