Tomahawk by Dee Wes (A short essay)


The Tomahawk

The man grabbed the handle of the worn axe; it was smooth from heavy use. It had a sharp head with the wrappings of a deer hide binding it into place. It was a treasured piece of the mighty hunter Bearkiller.

I was to become a part of an Iroquios life, in 1625. In this life I would have would be the constant companion to an Indian Brave for 25 years. I felt right in place when I was the grip of his strong hands. I knew that my head would soon see the blood of some wild beast. It had seen many parts of bloody flesh as I tore into the skin as Bearkiller swung it into the beasts and occasionally men. The Tomahawk that I was called was an efficient weapon and tool to carry at all times.

I was made by Bearkiller when he was a boy. He was not then called Bearkiller but Little Bear. It was part of his right of passage to make a weapon of worthiness to advance in the tribe and to be given a great tribesman name. His father was proud of how fast Little Bear, learned the craft of weaponry. I was happy to be part of his life. I became Bearkiller and Little Bears constant companion.

My first kill, was when I was planted in the side of a wild boar. Little Bear chased the boar with the other young men. I clung to his side in a pouch easily removed when close enough to the beasts. Little Bear grasped me as he ran. Through the brush and trees we ran and ran as the beast ahead was slowed by a poisoned arrow, normally used to tackle the beasts from a distance.

Little Bear and I, closed in on the boar, we were the first to get to the boar. Little Bear grabbed the tail of the boar and with a great swing he plunged me into the boar’s hip. I immediately became bloody and gooey. But I could feel the Boar slowing and in a few moments it stopped moving. It dropped with me, in its side. I felt the warm blood gushing out over me, and felt its heart beat fading. I had done my job. There would be food at the longhouse of Little Bear’s family.

It was only another few moons until I was used on a grizzly bear. It was a feat worthy of Little bear’s name change. He was known as Bearkiller after his great battle with the great Grizzly. The tribe honored the new Bearkiller, and his two friends with respect and gifts. But Bearkiller knew it without his trusty Tomahawk, he would still be Little Bear.

The story of that mighty battle was told around the fires of the Longhouse for many years, until the white Men came and brought disease to my people. Many of Bearkillers family passed in the great sickness.
It wasn’t long before I was traded to a white man a trader named Pierre LeFluer., he took me as a souvenir of having done trade with my people. I felt my life was at its end as I lay dormant in a chest for a long time.  I felt myself being jumbled around and tossed from the chest that had been my home for many months.

Pierre LeFluer, had taken me on a journey and I found that I would be taken out on occasion and talked about in some foreign tongue, they called French. Occasionally I heard a new language which I heard called English, they seemed to ask my owner Pierre if he spoke English. There customs were quite similar at story telling time. There would be always a fire where people would use as the focus before sharing stories of bravery. It was interesting to hear the stories in French they talked of my people. They were not always kind in their words; many of them hated my family.

It was not long before Pierre lost interest in me and again I was traded to English speaking man who wore a big hat. He rode a horse and I was packed into his side bag upon the big horse. He traveled westward with many others whom spoke English. Occasionally I was taken out and talked about, but I still did not feel at home. I missed my place with Bearkiller.

The seasons changed and the English speaking man, Jake, rode for miles with a wagon train, moving westward, they had come across many battles. One particular battle brought me to a new home. When the man no longer lived, I was picked up by a tribesman. I did not know the language but it felt good to be with men who knew my value and how to use me. I was again part of a tribe, this time I was part of a Shawnee tribe, and was now living in a tepee with my new owner Running Bear. It was funny how my life’s path would place me back in a bear family, but there I was I was given a new life but I never forgot my origins. I was still the Tomahawk of Bearkiller.


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