The Crippled Hunter!!!
A great hunter named Hawk woke in the medicine man’s hut. His arm ached fiercely, and when he reached over to touch it, he found the bottom half removed.
He lay there, stunned. “I’m sorry my son,” said the medicine man from the smoky interior of the hut.
“You are a cunning hunter, but you were hurt gravely saving Little Wing’s life. You are a hero to all our people, but the spirits said I must take your arm to save your life.”
Beneath the wraps on Hawk’s arm, the injury ached. He let his remaining hand fall limply to the blanket.
“What can I do now?” he asked numbly.
“You will not be able to use a bow any more,” the medicine man said, “but your years providing food for the tribe will not be forgotten. You will find a way to contribute.”
“You mean I can join the old women and the cripples who tend to the hunter’s catches,” Hawk growled.
He could barely restrain the tears that pricked his eyes. A hunter did not cry.
But if he was a hunter no longer, did it matter?
Hawk spent a lot of time alone while he was recovering.
He went on many long walks. He tried to use his bow, but he could see no way to shoot an arrow with his arm mangled.
People told him to relax, to do the work he could do to contribute to the tribe, such as preparing meat and tanning hides.
But even this work was difficult for him with only one hand. Besides, he did not want to tan hides for the rest of his life.
Something else bothered him. Winter was coming and game had been scarce all year.
The tribe had not put in as much meat for the hard months as it should have. They needed every hunter out there catching food. They needed him.
“Not like this,” he muttered and glared at his useless stump.
One day Hawk abandoned the menial work–others did it so much more efficiently than him anyway–and walked away from camp.
He followed a canyon rim. Far below a tiny stream meandered through, but anyone who fell would be splattered on the rocks.
For a moment he considered falling. What was his life if he could not hunt?
But what a cowardly end? Surely the spirits would be disappointed.
Hawk sighed and looked over his shoulder. Fields of tall yellow grass stretched before him. Then he noticed dark shapes in the distance.
A small herd, more than enough to provide meat for his people through the winter.
A hunting party was out, but they had gone the other direction.
They might miss these buffalo altogether.
Hawk looked from them to the cliff and back. An idea formed. He waited until the buffalo came as close to the canyon as they would, then tested the wind.
He set a fire in the tall grasses behind the buffalo. The flames soon grew and smoke filled the air. This terrified the buffalo, and they stampeded.
Hooves struck the earth so hard it was like being in an earthquake.
Hawk had set the fire in just the right spot, and many of the huge creatures ran blindly at the canyon cliff. Their instincts told them to run from fire, and they went right over the edge.
After the fire had died down, Hawk returned to the tribe for help skinning and preparing all the meat on the canyon floor. Now his people would have enough food for the winter.
The tribesmen and women looked at him with awe. They had never looked at him like that before, even when he had been a good hunter with two strong arms.
“How did bring down so many when you’re a cripple?” one blunt boy asked.
“I learned that you don’t have to be stronger and faster than the buffalo, just smarter than it.”