An American Indian Incarnation
I was born to a very loving mother who only looked to the
best in me and to a very practical father who said things as
he saw them. Therefore, when it came to giving me a name my
mother wanted to pick a lovely name because to her I was lovely.
However, the first thing that my father noticed was that I had
I very ugly face when I was born. I am sure this is the case
with most newborn babies but my father insisted that my given
name should be 'Ugly Face' and that was what he always called me.
My mother never called me by name. She always called me by
one of her pet names such as sweetness or lightness or one of
the really soppy ones that she used only when we were alone.
When I was young these names didn't bother me at all. As I
became older I was glad that she used these names only in
private. The other children either called me 'Ugly' or 'Face'
but only rarely both together.
I grew older and I was aware I was slightly different from
other children. The other boys would stay away from the girls
as much as possible. I, on the other hand, felt strongly
attracted to them from as early as I could remember and wanted
to be near them, to hug them and to cuddle up to them. I liked
my male friends but I loved my female friends.
I grew up to be a youth without the aggressive attributes
of other young braves. In fact I never actually felt brave. I
was instead afraid of anything out of the ordinary, or dangerous.
These things would be thought of as a challenge to the other young
braves who were all desperate to prove themselves. I was not looking
forward to the day when I would have to prove myself. However, that
day came and I was sent on a quest. The old men of the village had
sat around discussing the nature of my quest for some time. They
knew, as everyone did, of my nature and that I had never been one
for fighting. They new that when some unfortunate animal came into
the village that I would not be seen with other children who would
most often annoy it and use it as a source of fun for themselves. I
had not willingly killed any animal either seriously or in play and
hoped that I would never have to.
The quest upon which I was sent was to go away from the
village towards the mountains. I was to hunt for an eagle and to
bring back as many of its tail feathers as I could get. I was to be
away for only three days and to return on the third day at the latest
no matter what happened. I could return before the three days if I
had completed the task. All I had with me was a knife, a bow and
some arrows in a pack. I was given no food or water or way to keep
warm at night.
The very thought of going so far away from the village and the
people I loved and what I thought of as security made me afraid. Like
all the other youngsters I had learned how to use a knife and a bow and
arrow but I had never shot any living animal. The thought of having to
kill something made me squirm and I found that I was sweating just at
the thought of this quest that I was being forced to go on. I had no
choice in the matter; even my mother wanted me to go on the quest.
The day came when I had to go and I got up before
dawn so that I could slip out of the village before anyone else
was there to see my fear as I left. I had to travel on foot and
I knew I had to travel fast. Luckily, I was a fast runner and
particularly good over rough ground. I enjoyed running and before
the sun was high in the sky I had passed the furthest point I had
ever been from the village and that time I had only been there with many
others. The enjoyment of running helped me to forget my fear a
little although I remained extremely alert to anything and
everything that was a potential danger. I knew how to run quietly
and fast and in this way while running into the wind I came across
some feeding or drinking animals who were startled by my sudden
appearance. In some way this gave me a little confidence but these
animals were grazers and would not have posed much danger to me
As the day went on I ate things that I found which I
knew were edible, such as berries, shoot and roots etc. Having spent
so much time with the girls of the village I knew what the food
items looked like before it was cooked and also what could not
be eaten raw. On this trip I would not be cooking anything and
until I reached the clean streams in the mountains I would be
getting all of my drink from the juice of plants.
By late afternoon I reached the mountains and immediately
searched for a camping place with fresh running water. I found
one a short distance up the hill. There was an overhang in a rock and
a stream only 30 metres away. There were some dead trees at the
bottom of the hill I had just climbed so I brought them up to my camp
site. With the knife I removed all the branches and twigs to make poles.
The poles I leaned against the rock and fashioned a barrier between
myself on the inside and anything that might be prowling about at
night on the outside. It was crude but it gave me a bit of confidence.
All of the next day I looked for eagles. They may have been there
but I didn't even see one. I didn't know what I would do if I did see one
but as I looked all day in vain that didn't matter. The next day I looked
again in the morning and still saw nothing of eagles. I had to
leave by mid-day in order to get back that night so I left at a run.
I had been running for about an hour when I heard a faint cry away in the
distance behind me. It could have been an eagle, I was never
I arrived back at the village with a little time to spare and was
met by one of the old men. He was waiting at the exact spot where I
came into the village and I had come in by a circuitous route to avoid
as many people as possible. He seemed to know when I would arrive and
from which direction. His presence surprised me but he quite calmly
ushered me to the rest of the old men to tell the story of my quest. I had
to relate every detail and was a bit worried that I had been sent for eagle
feathers and had come back without having even seen an eagle. Once my story
had been related and I had answered a few questions the old men sent me
outside to wait. My mother brought me a little food. It was hot and moist
and the best I had tasted in at least three days.
I was told not to fall asleep so I had to sit there not knowing how
long the old men would be before sending for me again. Before
falling asleep this night I would be given a new name so I had to wait.
I was eventually called in and quite simply told that my new name would
be 'Eagle Hunter'. This did not please me at all. I said that as a hunter
of eagles I was obviously a terrible failure. However, it was
explained to me thus: I was to be 'he who hunted for an eagle to obtain
a feather'. This was such a mouthful that they, being the ones who
decided these things, shortened it to 'Eagle Hunter' and there could be
no more discussion on the matter as it had already been discussed and
decided upon. I was then too tired to argue anyway so I went home and
fell asleep with my new name.
I still felt that I was a boy but officially I was now a young
man with a new name. There was a difference in the way the other
members of the village now behaved towards me. I was not expected to
play children's games or learn the things that children learn. The girls
of the village looked at me differently too. I still loved them all and
still wanted to be near them. After a short while of this I realised that I
no-longer knew my place in the village. As a child you only have to play
and learn a few basic survival things and you can do that at your own pace.
As a young man you usually have a function to perform for the village such
as providing food or making homes or looking after all the horses etc. I
had been given no such duty and I felt a bit out of place. I asked to
see one of the old men and told him how I felt. He just smiled and
went away saying he would see if he could do anything for me. A few days
later I called in to see some of the old men. They asked if I was looking
for some way to be useful to the village and of course I said yes. They
told me that there was only one opportunity that had not been filled. They
gave me that position and I had to take it as there was no-one else to do
it and no other job that I could be useful for.
The job I had was protector of the village from wild animals. The
fact that my name was 'Eagle Hunter' was, I was told, nothing to do with it.
I later had the feeling that this had all been planned when thinking of a
quest and a name for me. At first I was slightly afraid of this job but when
I realised that they didn't just mean the lizards and snakes that came into
the village but also mountain lions that may be seen near the village then I
became really frightened. I performed this job whenever required and was
always waiting for the day when I would be adult enough to be brave. I was
supposed to be a brave but I never felt brave. Whenever I was looking for a
large wild animal seen near the village I would be very frightened. The
fear did not stop me doing my job but it was always there.
Eventually I took a wife and we had a beautiful son. One day I
was sent down river to look for some animal and I had a strong feeling
that I would not be coming back. The fear that was a constant companion was
gone. I called my wife and son outside and said a solemn goodbye and
gave my totem to my son (the diamond sign with a cross joining the points).
I then set out down river. In some rapids I lost control and the canoe
hit a rock. I was then thrown from the canoe and my head smashed against
another rock. That was the end of that incarnation.