Spirit Of The Wind
Chapter Two - White Men Cometh
I was spearing rainbow trout from my canoe when I saw two white men with wagons and cages in them pull up to the side of the river. It was dawn when the animals came to get water. There were bear, deer, elk and beavers. I noticed the Mama Bear and her cubs.
"We have seen these strange men before. They have a gun that puts animals to sleep and they put the sleeping animal in a cage" Mam bear said catching a trout for herself.
"I will protect you. I will get to the bottom of this. I promise".
"They just captured an elk" the Elk said drinking water.
I went down stream and quitely pulled the canoe to shore. I watched the men as they shot their dart gun and picked up the sleeping Elk. I decided to wait until that night and go and free the animals in their camp.
During the day I went about my chores. Picking herbs and flowers for Grandfather. Picking corn and squash for the Elders. Cleaning and hanging up the trout in the smoke house. Mother baked the fish in the stone oven with the vegetables.
"Achak go to the river and bring me a large snapping turtle. Cover his head with this burlap sack. Pick him up by the tail and put him in this basket" Mother said handing me a basket. She sprinkled the fish with the fresh herbs.
"I will return"
I went to the riverbed and stared hunting for turtles. I looked for them sunning on logs overlooking the river. I looked for their heads popping up out of the water. I am different than the others of my tribe. I did not like to hunt or trap like they did. I could hear animals speak to me and all I wanted was to protect and help them. I saw a large snapping turtle sunning on the bank. I quitely snuck up behind it and picked it up. I quickly put the hood on the turtle's head and put it in the basket. I took it back to my Mother. She pulled it out of the basket and hit it in the head with a rock. The turtle went lifeless and blood was running down my Mother's hands. She washed the turtle and chopped off it's head with a knife.
"I hit it with a rock because sometimes the snapping turtle can still bite after being decapitated. Sometimes the body will crawl away after the head is removed. That is why I hit it with a rock first" she said as she continued to wash the carcass.
She then dipped it in boiling water and she scraped off the exterior layer of skin, including the shell. The carcass was now white. Then she removed the shell. Then she cut along a groove on each side between the front and back legs. Then she scraped the meat out and rolled back the skin to remove the fat. Then she put the turtle meat in the pot and added squash and onions. Next was making corn chowder out of the fresh corn cobs that I had picked. Mother put in yellow onion, carrots, celery stalks, goats milk potatoes and fresh thyme leaves with the corn cobs. After two hours we ate our supper. I had also picked some fresh Elderberries for dessert.
That night I sneaked into the white men's camp and they were fast asleep. I went up to the cages and tried to unlock them. I suppose the noise woke them up. I was ready with my bow and aroow to keep them at bay if needed.
"Stop! What are you doing their boy? a tall older man said pointing a gun at me.
"I mean no harm, just to free these poor defenseless animals. They want to go home. They want to be safe."
"We mean them no harm son, we are just giving them a new home where people can see them. Where they will have clean places to live close to their natural habitat" the younger man said.
"I'm Sam and this is my father Joseph. We work at the Philadelphia Zoo. That is where we are taking these animals. We could use your help. You know these areas and the animals"
"I am Achak. My village is not far from here. My people are Trappers and Hunters. We trade pelts and skins down river. I do not like hunting. You are using sleep darts and if you assure me that you are not harming the animals, I will help you"
"If you help us, we will pay you good money".
"What do I need money for? My people are traders. We trade for what we want or need".
"You can buy clothes, more arrows or even live in the city. We have a University where you can learn to read and write. You could stay in a room at a hotel where you buy your meals. We need your help at the Zoo."
I hesitantly looked over the cage with the sleeping Elk and made my decision.
"I will help you if you explain which animals you need to trap".
"We have a list of uncommon, rare and threatened animals by man. There are some animals that have been wiped out by too many hunters and now they are threatened to be endangered. Those are the animals we are looking for".
I looked at the two baby elks in the cages and shook my head.
"We miss our family. We want to go home. Please help us" the Elk said.
"Why take the young from their parents? Do you want to separate families? I think we should trap older animals and let them breed at the zoo and make babies there"
"Great idea. We will return them back into the wild tomorrow and find some older ones.