The branches tug at my skirt and the leaves whisper softly under my moccasins as I follow the trail of the raccoon. Hunting is warriors' work but too many of our braves have been killed by the white man and now I must put on the cloak of hunter or my small village will go hungry.
Mother Earth is drowsy and all her creatures are getting ready for the long winter's sleep. We have gathered our harvest and smoked much meat, but food is becoming scarce. I do not understand. Why must the white man kill more than can be eaten in two day's time? I have come across his savagery on the trail as he takes the best and leaves the rest to rot in the forest. His scent is so strange to me...a heavy, musky smell which blends with the smell of death until I think the white man must dance with the evil spirits.
The elders of the village warn me about the pale-faced visitors...how they take from us that which is not ours to give, and sell to other white men what they do not own until Mother Earth's tears fall down like rain upon this land. When will they realize we are one with all living things? That we come from a sacred people who guard the spirits of the forest and whose ancestors have been on this land for many moons before they came?
I am startled from my thoughts by the low growling of a black bear breaking through the trees in front of me. How can I be so foolish to not see the signs I have crossed the path of my people's enemy? The elders of the village call him Unole Asgina or Thunder Devil because of his great, thundering roar when he attacks. He is but one leap away from me. So close his scent burns my nose. I stare into the black pools of his spirit as I realize I will die this day. What will become of my people when I am no longer around to help provide for them?
But wait...what is this other smell I catch floating on the wind? Even the bear stops for a second and shakes his head as if to clear his nose of the stench before turning in the direction of the forest to the right of me. There, just beyond a broken tree stump, is a white man kneeling with a fire stick my grandfather has warned me about. Unole Asgina has seen this white man too and stands on hind feet to roar at this new intruder before charging toward the trees. I think this white man will die today, but suddenly I see a flash of smoke and clamp my hands to my ears as a sound even louder than the bear's fills the air around me. As if in slow motion the Thunder Devil falls to the ground and I watch it's life spill onto the forest floor.
For just a moment I look into the eyes of the white man and wonder if he will point his fire stick in my direction? But he lowers it to his side and stands up to face me. White and brown stand together and look into each other's souls. I can not forgive what the white man has done to my people but for today I can give thanks to the Great Spirit that he sent such a man to save my life. He slowly nods his head in my direction and I do the same before I melt back into the forest behind me. The raccoon long forgotten, I will return to my village campfire with stories to tell and much to give thanks. I can always save the hunt for another day.