1. Restless Warrior
Year (1611) Odawa Tribe of North America in Northern Michigan.
Okemos felt the danger even before he saw the grey timber wolf emerge from some brush behind him. Entrails from the bull elk that Okemos had just killed spilled over lush spring vegetation from quick work with his hand made knife. The odor from the fresh kill brought in the predator.
The strong brave knew to move slowly while the gigantic wolf circled left. As Okemos sheathed his knife and removed the bow from around his neck and shoulder the great beast stopped, eyed his enemy, then undaunted, continued forward. The overwhelming scent of the kill too strong to dissuade him from the dangerous indian brave between him and his meal. It happened quick. As the timber wolf lunged into the air, Okemos pulled an arrow from his leather quiver, set the bow and fired into the middle of the beast’s chest. Few braves could have acted with the calm precision that Okemos displayed. Years of hunting for his tribe in the dense wood of Northern Michigan had prepared him for almost any extreme situation. He cautiously approached the great animal with knife in hand. The lack of any movement told Okemos his shot had found it’s mark. As he approached the great wolf, Okemos could see him breathing slowly. The last of life draining out of the great beast. Okemos was suddenly drawn to the animal’s eyes. In the large yellow eyes Okemos saw something that startled him deeply, almost recognition, like Okemos had known this being in another time. As the wolf’s eyes slowly closed Okemos brushed away the strange feeling coursing through his mind. After all, this was just a wolf. A fierce predator that had to be dealt with quickly or even the strongest braves could be mangled by the beasts sharp teeth. Thankful that he didn’t have to finish off a suffering animal with his knife, Okemos knelt on the soft warm earth in front of the great wolf, closed his eyes, and asked forgiveness from the great spirit for sending such a beautiful animal to the land beyond. Okemos was taught to respect and care for all living beings by his father. Unfortunately, life in the wilderness made one choose harshly between life and death.
Okemos entered the Chief’s hut with trepidation. He knew he should not have ventured so far from the tribe. But the hunt had got the best of him. His absence while tracking the solitary bull elk for two days straight for the kill had the entire tribe concerned for his life. His return this morning to his tribe on the northern shore of Pine Lake, later to be known as Lake Charlevoix in Northwest Michigan, sparked hoots and yelps from young and old. Everyone was anxious to hear stories of the great hunt that Okemos obviously endured. Large eyes stared in wonder as he lumbered into the tribe center with the large elk draped across his strong shoulders, while dragging the slain timber wolf by it’s massive back paws.
Okemos dropped the game just outside the chief’s hut to show his success in the hunt during his long absence.
“You have been reckless”, said the chief. “Many worry. Many think you will not return this time. Yet you do return from what looks like a great hunt. Your mother worries. I’m sure your father even worries from the spirit world beyond.”
Okemos didn’t have much patience for the chief’s lectures or talks of the great spirit world beyond. But he didn’t dare show it. Respect of all elders in the tribe, especially the chief, were among the first lessons taught.
The chief regularly made mention of his father. A great warrior, the chief said. And an even better hunter. However the chief would never elaborate on how or when his father was taken to the spirit world beyond. Okemos heard whispers and hushed stories of a great bear that took his father’s life, and how his father sacrificed himself for the entire tribe. But no one gave any detail on what really happened. Okemos was just too young to remember much at all about the great warrior of the tribe, his father.
“Let us talk of your future”, said the chief. “Come and sit around my fire and we will learn what the great spirit has in store for you Okemos.”Okemos, head bowed in respect, did as he was told. He spent the remainder of the day listening to his chief talk of great spirits and lands beyond the limitless boundaries of their conscious awareness. None of this talk kept his interest other than the part where the chief told him he would be leaving the tribe and his family for a while to find himself. Whatever that meant.