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Eagle Bear (Hawiya Awohali) was the first born of three children to the chief of the Cherokee Nations Wolf Clan, Chief Running Elk, and his wife Atja (Speckled Trout). The second born was Straight Like Arrow who was born one winter after Eagle Bear. The third child born to the chief of the Wolf Clan was Two Crows who was born three winters after Eagle Bear.
The three children of Running Elk and Atja (Speckled Trout) grew up as very happy children. They always played well together and with other children of their village. The children were loved by all who came to know them.
When Eagle Bear (Hawiya Awohali) was six winters old he befriended a boy his own age by the name of Silver Wolf. Silver Wolf's father was the sub chief of a very select group of warriors known as the Cherokee Death Warriors.
A Cherokee Death Warrior is a warrior who shows special talent as a fearless warrior. Warriors of other tribes fear to fight with a Cherokee Death Warrior, because of their fearlessness of death. Many of the young warriors start training to become Cherokee Death Warriors at a very early age. They learn the many different ways to kill their enemy. They also learn to be masters in hunting, tracking, healing, weapon construction and most of all leadership and team work.
At the time of Eagle Bears birth there were only about twenty five of these, highly trained, Cherokee Death Warriors within all the villages of the Wolf Clan. Their primary function was to be the personal guards and main fighting force for the chief of the Wolf Clan. It is said among the many tribes when twenty Cherokee Death Warriors fought as one an enemy of hundreds would flee for their lives rather than fight them.
At the age of six Eagle Bear started doing things with his father to prepare him to be a Cherokee Death Warrior like his father and his father's father before him. Most boys didn't start this training, if they were offered it, until they were ten or eleven winters old. Running Elk had his sub chief, Awohali Dihi, of the Cherokee Death Warriors, start training Eagle Bear when he was only six and a half winters old. His first major lesson was how to handle a hunting knife.
Chief Running Elk had one of his good friends from his younger days, of the Chickasaw people, Chief Nowata, start training Eagle Bear at the age of ten to track and read trails. Chief Nowata was known to be the best tracker and reader of signs and trails in the Wolf Clan. Running Elk thought it best for Eagle Bear to learn how to track and read trails before allowing him to go on the major hunts with the village hunters.
Eagle Bear took to the training of being a Cherokee Death Warrior as if it were a game. Eagle Bear and Silver Wolf would share their training with Two Crows whenever they were alone and not in training themselves. Silver Wolf was being trained at the same time as Eagle Bear by his father Awohali Dihi. Eagle Bear loved his younger brother and would share all he could of what he learned. Eagle Bear saw that his father was paying more attention to him and not his little brother and sister.
When Eagle Bear was twelve he was given the quest of the Tracker. He was really happy to be going on the quest but unhappy at the same time because he was much younger than the others going on the same quest. Eagle Bear was the largest of the other boys going on the quest but the youngest.
Eagle Bear (Hawiya Awohali) was always large for his age. When he was twelve winters old he was as big as most grown warriors. This made it hard for him to play many games with the other boys his own age.
Each member of the quest gathered at the Ceremonial Lodge early in the morning. Each boy there brought their mothers with them. They were to leave their mothers care this day and return as young warriors.
The chief of the Wolf Clan was to give the instructions and start the quest. Running Elk was proud Eagle Bear was nominated for the quest by Chief Nowata. No one at the Ceremonial Lodge objected. There were young boys at the quest representing over twenty three different villages of the Wolf Clan.
Chief Running Elk stood and got everyone to be silent. He looked around the room saying "Today we are here to say goodbye to young boys. Before the sun sets five times these boys will return as young warriors. At this time let every mother here say goodbye and leave the boy to become a warrior."
After a short time Chief Running Elk, as he did every season, yelled out loud "For every boy here wanting to become a warrior stand yelling his fathers' name as loud and proud as he can."
Eagle Bear was very proud of his father. He yelled very loudly, "Running Elk! Running Elk! Running Elk!"
Chief Running Elk let the boys yell for a while then he raised one hand high in the air, everyone fell silent. Chief Running Elk continued by saying "You each have until the sun sets five times to return to this place with a live animal you track down until the animal gives up to you alive. For your boyhood spirit will leave this lodge with the spirit of the animal you bring back and a warrior will remain. You will have no weapons. The only thing you will have is your spirit and body. At the sound of the drums you will each leave this lodge and village not to return until you have accomplished your quest or the sun has set five times. Are there any questions?" No one had a question.
Chief Running Elk looked around the lodge one last time and raised both hands in the air, looked at his son, and dropped his hands. The drums started beating and each boy ran out of the lodge and out of the village. Running Elk was proud to see his first born son in this season's quest. Eagle Bear will be the youngest proven tracker in the history of the Wolf Clan.
As Eagle Bear ran out of the Ceremonial Lodge he saw the proud smile his father gave him. He ran by his father with his head held high. As he went by his own lodge he saw his mother, sister and little brother standing there waving. He did not wave but smiled instead as he kept running. He thought waving would show a weakness.
After running past his little brother, Two Crows, he ran by his best friends lodge. Silver Wolf was standing beside his father looking so proud. He winked at Eagle Bear as he ran by. Silver Wolf's father smiled saying "In a few more winter's my son you will be ready to run the quest." Little did his father know Eagle Bear had been teaching him everything he knew about tracking and reading signs.
Once out of the village Eagle Bear turned north running along the stream outside the village. He wasn't aware of the other boys in the quest, he only ran north.
After half the morning went by Eagle Bear stopped. Not sure where he was or how far he'd run he sat down at the edge of a stream and drank some cool water. It was time to consider what animal he would bring back to the Ceremonial Lodge to complete his quest.
Eagle Bear heard most of the boys would be bringing back a rabbit because they were easy to find and catch. He was taught to use his mind and be the best he could be. Suddenly a small young male elk deer ran by him jumping the stream in one single leap. It was settled, he would track down the elk since his father's name was Running Elk. Eagle Bear considered this to be a great omen.
Eagle Bear tracked the elk north gaining very little ground. He was hungry and tired. He stopped to pick some wild berries and pulling some roots to eat. But, this didn't seem to help much. He was still hungry.
While Eagle Bear sat under a large tree near the stream he suddenly saw a rabbit moving close by. This was it, he would run down the rabbit, skin it out, and eat it for food. There were always some flint rocks nearby to start a fire with. Eagle Bear slowly got up and when the rabbit got close he started chasing it. Eagle Bear was very fast on his feet. He caught the rabbit in no time. He built a small fire using a flint stone and cooked the rabbit. He kept the hide in case he needed it. After a while he started tracking the young elk again.
Eagle Bear came within a rocks throw distance of the elk that night. The elk jumped up from his sleep running away when Eagle Bear threw a stone at him. This happened three different times before sunrise. Eagle Bear couldn't stop now. He could tell from the tracks the elk was close to getting tired. When he got into the wooded area he almost lost the trail but found it again. Eagle Bear stopped to rest sitting down on an old fallen tree. While resting he noticed some vines hanging from some surrounding trees. He said to himself "I'll need something to bind the elk with once I catch him." He ripped some long vines down wrapping them around his shoulders. It was time to catch his elk.
Eagle Bear noticed the elk was making a very wide circle from where he first saw him. This gave Eagle Bear the advantage. He moved faster now following the elk tracks. There he was up ahead, walking very weakly and slowly.
Eagle Bear was down wind of the elk in order not to be noticed. He stayed about fifty to seventy paces behind the elk herding him on. Every time the elk would stop Eagle Bear would toss a stone to make the deer move on. It was almost sun down and Eagle Bear knew if he didn't catch the elk soon he would lose him forever. Then he saw the small elk fall as if he was dead. The elk would not move for the stones Eagle Bear threw at him. It was now or never to make his move.
Eagle Bear took the vines and made them into a rope and moved up on the elk. As he moved closer he noticed the young elk was exhausted to almost death. Eagle Bear jumped the elk to tie his legs together. The elk put up very little resistance. Eagle Bear knew once the young elk was rested he would never be able to get him back to the village. Eagle Bear was exhausted himself. Then he got an idea. He had the rabbit hide with him and he wrapped it around the elk's head to cover his eyes so he couldn't see. Once this was done Eagle Bear double checked his tie job of the deer's legs and decided to get some sleep himself. He would start for the village at dawn.
At sunrise Eagle Bear was up, hungry and thirsty. He checked on his deer to make sure he was still securely tied. With the elk's eyes covered he put up very little resistance. Eagle Bear scooped up the deer and put it on his shoulders with the legs around his neck. He could hold on to the deer's legs in case he tried to get away. For a short time the deer put up a fight but soon settled down.
Eagle Bear walked all day and at sunset he was too tired to continue. He stopped at the stream which would take him home the next sunrise. After securing the elk for the night he found more berries to curve his hunger for a while. He fell asleep next to the deer because he would be awakened if the deer moved to get away.
At sunrise Eagle Bear loaded his elk on his shoulders heading for home. The sun was directly overhead when he saw the village in the distance. Out of nowhere he found the strength to complete his quest. He was close enough to the village now to hear people shouting his name saying "Eagle Bear has returned." The word spread throughout the village like a fire on a windy day on the open prairie.
As Eagle Bear entered the outer edge of the village his legs were very weak from carrying the elk so far. He was finding himself ready to collapse with hunger, thirst and fatigue. Then he saw his little brother, Two Crows, yelling with pride for him. He reached deep within himself finding the strength to continue.
Eagle Bear finally reached the Ceremonial Lodge. For a few minutes he stood there outside the door. Eagle Bear stepped through the entrance and was greeted by Chief Nowata and the chief of the Wolf Clan, Running Elk. Running Elk told Eagle Bear to place his catch on the floor before the chiefs of the villages of the Wolf Clan who were present. As Eagle Bear placed the young elk on the floor it seemed to be dead.
Chief Running Elk proudly said "Now free your boyhood spirit letting it run back to the forest within the deer. Let the warrior remain here."
Eagle Bear knelt down to remove the vine ropes and the rabbit hide which was covering the deer's eyes. Before he removed the rabbit hide he whispered into the deer's ears "I give you my boyhood spirit my friend, now take it and return to the forest." He removed the rabbit hide and gave the elk a push. The deer got up slowly, walked out the Ceremonial Lodge, then to the outer edge of the village running as fast as he could going north towards his home.
Standing tall and proud Eagle Bear faced his father. Chief Running Elk announced "Here before me stands a warrior. From this day forward he is to be treated like a warrior when called upon to be a tracker or to read trails. He has proven himself in the eyes and hearts of each chief here. Now Eagle Bear, depart this Ceremonial Lodge as a warrior returning to your own lodge." Eagle Bear turned and walked out of the lodge. As he exited the lodge a large crowd was there to congratulate him. Eagle Bear managed to step into his lodge before falling to his knee's with total exhaustion. His mother, Atja, helped him to his bed where he fell asleep right away.
Eagle Bear accomplished many quests over the winters, but, the quest in tracking was his most talked about. It would be told to the children of the Cherokee Nations Wolf Clan for generations upon generations.
There were some quests completed by Eagle Bear, Two Crows and Silver Wolf at the same time. The majority of the time they acted as a team of one making them the best ever in the Wolf Clan. It was obvious to those who saw them together they were true Cherokee Death Warriors.
When Eagle Bear was twenty four winters old he was living alone in his own lodge. Many a young maiden wanted him for a husband but none touched his heart. His mother and father were always trying to be the match maker but he said when he saw the right maiden he would know.
Chief Running Elk called a meeting of the best trackers and hunters of all the villages within the Wolf Clan. Since Eagle Bear was known to be the best tracker in the Wolf Clan he was at the meeting.
Chief Running Elk was the last to enter the Ceremonial Lodge for the meeting. Once he was standing in the center of the room he looked around, with many eyes watching him, saying "My fellow brothers, we have an emergency at hand. There is a killer giant bear making his way to the Monacan village killing everything in its path. We as a Clan should come together to stop this evil before it kills more of our people."
Chief Light Foot, the chief of the Monacan people, stood up to say "Yes, this evil must not enter my village where many children play. We have lost four of our best warriors to this evil one. We need the help of the Wolf Clan." Chief Light Foot sat down next to his son.
Chief Running Elk faced his brothers of the Wolf Clan once more and stated "We will gather here at dawn for everyone who wishes to go on this dangerous quest to stop this evil one before he reaches our brothers and sisters of the Monacan village. At first light we leave, bring your strongest bows and sharpest lance. Are there any questions?" Since no one had questions the chief continued saying "Let us prepare. Let the Great Spirit protect everyone on the hunt." Everyone departed the Ceremonial Lodge with Chief Running Elk leaving first.
As Eagle Bear was leaving the Ceremonial Lodge he wanted to go by and talk to his little brother Two Crows. He said to himself saying "I sure wish Silver Wolf were here."
Silver Wolf was with his father visiting the villages in the west part of the Wolf Clan recruiting new members of the Cherokee Death Warriors. They were due back at any time but the Great Hunt could not wait for them to return.
Eagle Bear approached Two Crows lodge to talk to his little brother about the Great Hunt, as it's called now. Two Crows was at the meeting but hurried home afterwards to talk to his wife Shinning Stone. She was with child for the second time and he wanted to talk to her before committing to the Great Hunt.
Eagle Bear met with Two Crows outside Two Crows lodge. Eagle Bear looked at his brother saying "My little brother, I was glad to see you at the big meeting today. You're the best shot with the bow in the Clan."
Two Crows replied saying "This will be a very dangerous trip. My son has only started walking lately. My wife is ready to bring me another son into my family. But, I have decided to go, if nothing else, to protect my big brother and our father."
Excerpted from Eagle Bear by Buddy Hannah. Copyright © 2014 Buddy Hannah. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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Posted November 1, 2012
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