Twang! The sound of my bow releasing the arrow rang out through the quiet, peaceful forest. A flock of birds took flight at the sound, and the heard of deer took off; leaping through the forest faster then the eye could see. Only one remained. It lay on the ground, arrow protruding from it's side, and as it gave it's final shuttering breath, I whispered over it,
"May you be blessed for the sacrifice you have made for us, and may you be accepted back into the Earth to be reborn into a new, beautiful creature of the Mother Earth." It was a sacred blessing to all animals that give their life for the Tribes. I was apart of the Bode'wadmi tribe, or the firekeepers. There were five other Tribes that shared our territory; the Haulapai (people of the pines), the Kanza (wind people), the Kanienkehaka (people of the flint), the Nantego (tide water people), and the Onandowaga (people of the mountain).
Though each Tribe had their own rituals and speakings, the one universal tradition that was carried between all Tribes, was the blessing of thanks for the animals. Looking back to my buck, it was a prize. It's antler's were velvet and it had a rack of about 20 prongs. He still was warm, and I knew that I could bring him back, though girls were not allowed to hunt. I sighed. It was like this every time I went out hunting; I always had to tell one of the men that I had killed something so that they could bring it back. It was all the men that got the glory.
I knew that my mother, Tashmental, would have my behind for my thoughts at that moment, but I didn't want to do the things the women had to do in my Tribe; cook, clean, sew, hem, and one of the worst, bear child. I wanted to be a warrior, and I wanted to be head of the Tribe, but it was forbidden, if I did, I would be thrown out of the Tribe as an outcast and a rouge.
That would dishonor my family and my Tribe beyond belief and all the other Tribes would lose respect for the Bode'wadmi tribe. Sighing, I made my way back home and went into my tent. My mother and my older sister, Shenuk, were both sitting on the ground and sewing the cloths of my father back together. In a week, Shenuk would be married to the chief's son, and become our leading lady. Mother was so proud, and had showered her with gifts beyond her wildest dreams. I had not yet reached ladyhood yet, so I was not to be married, though my father, Adahy, had already set a marriage for me with a boy named Mohe.
He was a few years older, and a great tribal warrior. We had spoken a few times, but that was about it. There was no saying what kind of person he actually was.
"Taito, you are here finally. What have you done with your cloths again?" Shenuk looked down at me and brushed some hair out of my eyes.
"You must learn to grow up, sister! In a month you will become a lady, and I do not want you to disgrace our family." Mother came up behind her, and looked at me too. Reaching around my sister, she cupped my face in her hands and looked me in the eyes.
"What did you do this time, little bear?" Mother always called me little bear when she wanted to get information from me.
"Nothing ma. I was just out exploring like usual." Smacking me across the cheek, she implied,
"Don't you dare lie to me, Taito." Eyes watering I re-answered her.
"There was a huge herd of deer, and a huge buck was among them. I shot it and it's laying in the fields a mile from here. Ma, it could feed the whole tribe for days!" Saying this made her smack me again.
"Haven't I told you that you are not supposed to hunt? Bows are for men, and knives for men. Women sew and do the housework. I forbid you to go out there again. You are to stay in here and learn the ways of a lady." I did not like this proclamation one bit, and ran out of the tent. I heard mother call out for me, but I ignored her and ran faster. I did not know where I was going, but I let my feet guide me. Before long, I found myself at the edge of our boarder facing the Haulapai Tribe's boarder.
They lived in the pine tree forests, and the edge of their boarder was marked by a thin line of pine trees growing into our territory, and getting thicker and denser the farther back you can go. That's when I heard the rustling. From behind a pine tree, out emerged a man, well a boy. He was tall, and his age was maybe 16. His hair was long and black, pulled back in a tight, neat braid. Reaching for the knife I had stowed away in my cloak, I kept my eyes on his every move.
"Young lady, are you a rouge?" A rouge? I knew that my cloak's marks showed that I was part of a Tribe.
"Are you blind? Do you not see the markings upon my cloak, or the cloths upon my back? Or the knife in my hand?" Amusement glittered in his eyes making me even madder at him.
"I see the markings, and your cloak, and I see the knife held in your hand. But, it is not often that I see a young lady wandering around our boarders with the markings of a hunter. Isn't that a dishonor?" How could this man be so stupid?
"I am a good person, for your information, and very honorable to my family. Yes, I can hunt, but that does not make me any less honorable then any other woman."
"I did not say that, girl. I was merely stating something that I saw. I am very sure you are not uncapable of anything. If anything, you are more capable then I am." Was this man complementing me? He was from a different Tribe!! He continued,
"My name is Bearhunter, but I have not even killed or hunted a rabbit." Was he kidding? All men his age have at least brought back a buck by then! Men's voices were heard from behind him, and I was afraid that this might've been a trap.
"I must go, it has been good meeting you young lady. At least tell me your name?" To give him my name would be something close to treason among my Tribe. Bearhunter seemed to catch this and apologized.
"Meet me back here at moonhigh tomorrow night. I would like to know more about you." With that, he spun around back into his forest and disappeared.