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 anyway.

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 sure.

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.


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