Little Owl edges up next to his father. “Grandfather says the white men are cunning, and will use their rifles to take our valley. Their kind will soon fill the land all the way to where the sun sets.”
Running Wolf smiles and tussles his son’s hair. “Though he is my father, and I would not say such before him, I fear Gray Hawk may have stayed in the smoke a moon too many. His mind and eyes have become like the morning fog that lays silent across our great valley.” He juts his chin down toward the men. “Just look at them. They show no respect to the deer’s spirit, throwing aside the bones and hide. They make no thanks to the spirit for providing their meal, keeping them alive for another rise of the sun. They use their rifles rather than fashion the deer’s string for bows.” He shakes his head. “When they come in tribes, rather than teepees made from the hide, they cut down the very trees that hold back the wind and provide for their prey, to build their shelters, leaving the hills barren. A dark ghost of a forest that once was.” He points to a spot just behind the men at the edge of the trees. “See there? They make trails everywhere they go, making it easy for the hungry bears or wolves to find them.”
“But Father, when Grandfather took me for the sweating, he said the Souls of the Spirits warned him of yellow-haired men with iron sticks of fire. And what of the village by the River Tatanka? They—“
Running Wolf puts a finger to Little Owl’s mouth, stopping him from saying any more. He had gone with the Elders to the village, and his son’s words send both a cold chill...and the sharp edge of doubt into his gut. “Grandfather must have been listening to the trickster spirit, Iktomi. There’s no need to fear these men, Little Owl. They will be gone with the first snow. And like my father, his father before him, and his father before him, we will have this land to ourselves once again. The Spirits will prevail. Let not Gray Hawk put needless worry into that head of yours.” He taps Little Owl on the nose and they crawl back from the rock, moving away from the ledge. “Let’s find our supper,” he says, as they head into the thicket.
Though Running Wolf’s eyes are down, searching for the trail of the rabbit that led them here, his son’s words continue to torment, and a single thought fills his head.
While we still can, Little Owl. While we still can.