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Facing the Hawk

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It was a warm summer morning long ago when I was seven years old. I was preparing for a fight that would help decide my fate. It seemed almost impossible to live up to the expectations that my father, the chief, was setting. I was the biggest kid my age in the tribe and by far the strongest, but I did not have a clue as to who I was going to go up against. It was a tradition between my tribe and our neighbors that when a child turned seven that they would fight another child of the same age and by the fight the priest would decide the destiny of that child. I entered the fighting circle confidently. I knew that intimidation and confidence were key, so I was trying to have both. We entered backwards so our enemy would be a surprise when we saw them. When the rule master said go I turned as quick as I could and tried to strike, but I could not move. I had seen the masks of almost every kid in the other tribe, but this kid’s mask was a terrible hawk. I froze like a scared possum, but I stopped myself from fainting. My enemy started throwing punches at me left and right, but I could not respond. My brain wasn’t working. I wanted to burst out like the sun in the morning but I couldn’t do anything. One punch put me lying backwards on the ground and I had lost the battle, I had been made a mockery of!

I returned to my tipi in shame. I knew my fate could not be good after the fight I had just put on, but I promised myself that the fate I was told to have would not stop me from achieving my goal and I could be a great warrior. I stayed in my tipi all day until the time of resting. It took me forever to fall asleep but I finally did after a while. In the morning I woke up from a terrible dream of the hawk faced mask staring at me. The village woke up to my screaming for the next five years until now. My screams of horror have become a regular thing by now and we no longer used a rooster to wake the village up in the morning. My nickname had now become Shagatashi (which means terrible awakening in my villages’ language).

A lot had changed since then. Our tribe was now enemies with the other tribe and we were going to war in a month. I have now stopped playing games with the other kids and have devoted my time to training as hard as I could. I found myself a hidden spot away from the village and started to create a training area of my own. It was right on the lake that my tribe gets its fish from, and it was fully surrounded by a hedge. I made a small hole to crawl in through and got to training. I tied a dead wolf to a branch with some twine and practiced on it. My sword fighting skills had improved a ton and I had dead aim with a bow and arrow.

After a while I started to hear a loud “shirring” sound. After I started to get suspicious I peeked through the hedge and saw a boy my age from the enemy tribe practicing his bow and arrow skills in a large area similar to mine. His aim was amazing!! He got the arrow right in the dead bear’s head every time and he was shooting from twice the distance I had been shooting. I didn’t know if I wanted to greet him but I found myself already screaming hello before I could fully decide. He looked at me in shock. I could tell he was deciding whether to be friendly or fire at me. I noticed I still had weapons in my hand so I dropped them and slowly approached him with my hands up. I felt like the tribe officials were taking me to punishment. He dropped his weapon and said hello. We talked for a while and started training together. I beat him in sword fighting every time we battled and he always beat me in the shooting contests. Time went by faster than venison at the tribe dinners. It soon became dark and we remembered that we had missed dinner! We both got up and ran faster that cats run from dogs. When I got back everyone was looking for me. They asked where I had been and I said that I had fallen asleep on the hammock at the fishing spot. My dad said “oh well I guess since you got a lot of rest you can stay up late and clean the plates.” Then he flashed me a quick wink.

I didn’t think that it would be a tough chore but my body was very sore from the practicing. By the time I was done I was extremely exhausted. I went to bed and fell asleep quicker than I ever had. I woke up in the morning and felt very refreshed. My mother and father weren’t there so I guessed they were outside and ate some of the fish we had in the tipi. I walked outside and saw everyone rushing around and wondered what was going on. Then I looked into the sky and noticed the sun was directly above us. It was already noon! Everybody looked at me and asked me why I didn’t wake everyone up. I told them I didn’t know and I had no control over my nightmares, but they all seemed angry with me. I decided to get away and slip out of the village without anyone noticing. When I got there Notashu was waiting for me on a log. When I walked in he stood up and asked me to teach him how to swordfight.

We started right away. I taught him how to stop jabs, stop slashes, and too disarm his enemy. He started doing pretty well and we started to actually have pretty good matches. He even set me off balance and beat me once. When It got close to dinnertime we remembered to leave because we had learned our lesson from our first mistake. I arrived and had a great dinner. I was actually starting to enjoy my life now that I had a friend that was as dedicated as me. I headed off to bead and woke up bright and early (without having any nightmares) and took off to see Notashu. We had planned to see each other bright and early today. We arrived and had some sword fighting practices and then he taught me his archery techniques. I knew he had tons of sagacity when it came to archery techniques because they worked very well and I could shoot much farther and my accuracy was way better than it had been before. We sat down and took a break. We didn’t really want to practice right then so we decided to go swimming.

We had races and hunted for lunch. We caught about six fish and these trifles seemed like a feast fit for a king. We talked for a while and then decided to go to sleep early and meet the next day.

The same routine went on for about twenty five days. We decided to have on final practice before the war started so we had the hardest practice we had ever had. Our sweat could have filled a million clay pots. We bid each other farewell and went home early. The whole village went to sleep early so we could get up on time to prepare for the war. We got up before sun had come to a rise and then got on our equipment. We were given weapons like spears, swords, bows and arrows, and gear that covered most of our body. Right before we left to go to the battlefield we sat in a circle and prayed.

After praying for a while we marched of for war. We lined up in front of the enemies and then after a moment of silence the war began. I ran through the enemy lines like there was nothing in front of me. My sword slashed through enemy after enemy. I had already defeated almost fifty men. I turned to an enemy in a squirrel faced mask and began to rush at him. I stopped about four feet in front of him and saw Notashu’s eyes staring right at me. My draw dropped in shock and I froze. I had never even thought about the fact that Notashu was going to be one of my enemies in this war. We both turned away and went to take on other enemies.

My fellow soldiers had begun to move back so I went and took cover behind a rock and started to use my bow and arrow. I was perfectly hidden and far away from the battle. It was the perfect place to use my bow and I was getting some arrows to hit my enemies. While I was taking aim at a tough target I heard some crackling in the leaves behind me. I turned around quicker than I had during my fight as a seven year old. The enemy behind me had the same terrible hawk mask as the kid I had fought. It was him.

I had frozen right when I saw that terrible mask. My bow and arrow fell from my hand and hit the ground silently. He rushed at me with his knife. I couldn’t move! Right before he got to me an arrow shot right into the side of his chest. I turned and saw Notashu standing there in ending position. I ran and thanked him. He was in shock from killing someone from his own tribe.

A large man with a large wolf mask surged towards us; he had seen the whole thing. We ran away in horror until we got to the lake. We swam for about ten minutes until we ended up somewhere we hadn’t recognized. We wandered for days. We ate anything we could catch. After three days we ended up at part of the lake. We saw our training area straight across the lake. We swam the whole lake until we got there. We slowly walked back to my tribe. One half of the village was set up for a party, and on the other half the family of the ones who died was in mourning. When we walked up to everyone they stared at us like they had seen a ghost. They all cheered! The priest came and touched my face. He was in shock. He turned around and quieted the whole village. He then announced, “Shagatashi has overcome his fate, therefore when he becomes old enough he will replace his father as chief of the village!” Everyone cheered and clapped. My mother and father hugged me. But when all was quiet they asked me who my friend was. I told him how we had trained together and how he had saved my live. My father decided to welcome him into our village.

We went through a long time of peace and all was well. I grew up and became chief of the village and Notashu started his own tribe next to mine. After a while we decided to join our tribes together and call ourselves the Wampanoag tribe (Which means people of the east, or people of the first light.) Our tribe then grew bigger and bigger until we both past away. We were buried in our training area that had become the center of our village.

The End





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