Indian Winter

I made my teepee where the hunting is good,

It stands on ground where a great wolf stood.

Its powerful spirit will protect my home

And keep me safe when I must roam.

The season draws near when I must kill the deer;

We will prosper or die before Winter is here.

Yellow Moon lay awake as the fading stars crept across the smoke hole. False dawn lightened the eastern sky while wakening birds shattered the silence. The day’s list of chores filled her mind, an occasional elusive thought keeping her from completing the tally.

There were the constant problems of finding dry wood for the fires, the filling of their three precious water jars and the endless strips of pemmican to be smoked for the winter provisions. Quietly, Yellow Moon rose from her bed of bearskin covered pine needles, left the teepee to gather a supply of beef jerky, a pouch of dried berries and nuts. The basket of food would keep Gray Wolf strong for his hunt.

Only one more full moon would pass before the snows came. Yellow Moon hated to leave this beautiful spot they called home all Spring and Summer. Soon gathering enough firewood would cost Gray Wolf a day’s journey and the best hunting lay a fortnight to the North.

From his perch in a larch tree, Gray Wolf waited for a sign of deer. A light snowfall hid his scent and muffled the sounds of the forest. He began to stretch his muscles, stiff from the hours on the tree branch far above the ground.

At last, he spied a young buck and two does browsing on tree bark only ten man lengths away. Their path would take them within easy striking distance. The arrow twanged against the bowstring, bringing instant death to the buck and a promise of survival to his family. Many moons south on the shores of a wide river a special spot lay waiting for the new Blackfoot home.

As much as Yellow Moon loved their home, a sense of adventure provoked exciting thoughts of the coming journey. A comfortable space on the travois lined with rabbit fur would secure the safety of their two winter old daughter, Little Feather. The tribe’s herbalist told her of the many large fish living in the river and of the rich soil for the growing of crops. The bag of precious seed in its protective wrapping would ravel in a place of honor.

As Yellow Moon spun the bow to start the new day’s fire, wild stories of white men’s wind ships seen sailing upstream failed to mar her vision. Only the dangers of hunger and sickness hovered in her thoughts. A burning spark in her mind kept alive her will to survive, for in her body grew the seed of the future chief of the Blackfoot tribe.