Lakota Winds — Chapter One : First 1,000 words

Posted on Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Lakota Winds will be introduced with approximately 1,000 words from the first chapter. This will enable the reader to get acquainted with this story.

Chapter One —

Matowla opened his eyes. Something was wrong. He looked about slowly, without moving his body. Matowla saw that he was not in immediate danger. He sat up. The Hunkpapa Lakota youth, now thirteen winters old, stood up and scanned his surroundings. He could not see anything that was menacing, but the youth continued to believe that something was wrong

Matowla knelt down onto the blanket and lightly touched his hand to the forehead of the other youth, signifying; wake up, but do not make a sound. Tankala awoke instantly, but did not move. His eyes sought out Matowla and when he saw his friend’s expression, the youth sat up and whispered, “What is it?”

“I feel something.”

Tankala stood up and looked around, using his hand to shade his eyes from the hot sun that was almost directly overhead. “I don’t see anything,” said the youth of fourteen winters. He stretched. “You worry too much,” Tankala said, and then strolled down to the river.

“I am to be a scout,” countered Matowla. “A scout must always be on the alert.”

“Yes, I know,” said Tankala. “You have often told me that a scout is the eyes and ears of the tribe.”

“My purpose is to let the elders know when the village is in danger.”

Tankala grunted in agreement, in the manner of an adult. “Then the white-hairs will send the warriors out to fight the enemy, and I will follow after and join them. We will kill them all, or drive them away. We will protect everyone.” Tankala reached down into the stream and threw two handfuls of water into the air, and proclaimed, “And I will make my first kill!”

Matowla smiled at his friend. Many people in the village thought that Tankala was too boastful but Matowla did not mind. Even though Tankala was always first to announce what he aimed to do, there was no other person that Matowla would rather stand besides; whether it be in a game of knocking-off-horses, or a fight against the bullies from the Ogallala village.

The two youths had been friends for as long as Matowla could remember. Though they were not related they considered themselves spirit-brothers. The two boy-braves had gone before the village elders. They had dropped to their knees and slapped the ‘sacred-earth’ with the palms of their hands, exactly like a warrior who would finalize a sacred oath. The two avowed to the village that their hearts and souls were related, and that their destinies were merged together. The elders had crossed their arms in a show of respect, and then smiled at the boys’ declaration. The old ones nodded their heads in approval. Long-lasting friendships, such as these two spirit-brothers, strengthened the village.

Once Tankala finished washing the dust from his face he turned to Matowla, his eyes questioning. Tankala knew that his younger friend had tremendous powers of observation—way beyond what he possessed. He watched Matowla turn towards the late morning’s breeze and sniff the wind. Matowla stuck out his tongue and tasted the air.

“You sense something, don’t you?”

Matowla’s face wrinkled in concern. “Yes, there is something coming, I can feel it all the way down in my moccasins.”

“Tatanka?” Asked Tankala, hoping that his friend might have become aware of a buffalo herd’s approach. Last spring, not long after the winter winds had stopped their vicious attacks, Matowla had gone out with some of the band’s experienced scouts and amazed everyone by sensing the location of a small herd of buffalo. The village had sung praises in Matowla’s honor.

Matowla went to his knees and placed his ear against the earth. Tankala watched his friend, excited by the possibility of being among the first to announce that buffalo were near.

“No,” answered Matowla slowly. “It’s something else.” The youth frowned in uncertainty. “There is the rumble of a large herd but the clatter from the hooves has a sharp ring.” He scowled in dismay. Matowla shook his head in confusion. “I don’t know what it is.”

“I know it can’t be a Crow-peoples’ raid. They are not that stupid to attack our encampment. We have tens-of-hundreds of warriors. To bother us would be suicide,” stated Tankala. He smiled, “I wish they would attack, for I would be first to race out and count coup! Hokehay!” He shouted, calling out the Lakota attack words.

Matowla smiled at his friend’s arrogance, and then pointed with his chin. “That which is approaching is coming from the south.

“Let’s go and meet this something!” called out Tankala. He returned to the blanket where the two youths had slept and took up his bow and arrows. “Maybe it is Tatanka. Come with me, scout, let’s go make meat.”

The two Hunkpapa braves; one wishing to become a scout, while the other’s aspiration was to be accepted as a warrior, walked under the hot mid-day’s sun. Normally they did not sleep so late, but last night had been the encampment’s great feast and celebration. The youths had joined in, exuberantly dancing around a blazing fire, urged on by the beat of the big camp-drums, and the trilling of adoring young women.

The festivities had gone on all night and had not ended until the sun was rising above the eastern hills. There was much to celebrate because a combined force of Lakota and Cheyenne had battled with the wasichu just seven days ago. The warriors had forced the pony-soldiers and walk-a-heaps to turn around and go home, shamefully hanging their heads in defeat.

Neither Matowla nor Tankala had been allowed to ride with the warriors to the fight along the Rosebud River, but instead, had been given tasks of defending the helpless-ones. Matowla had been assigned a scout’s obligation of remaining far outside of the circle of tepees. He roamed the ridges overlooking the encampment, watching and waiting; ready to warn the old-ones of an enemy’s approach. Tankala, as was fitting for a boy-warrior, stayed near the pony herds. He stalked about, armed with his bow, and was prepared to defend the horses against raiders. Their activities had been uneventful, but during last night’s celebration the boys’ completion of responsibilities had been publicly described, and both youths were presented gift-sticks.

Matowla and Tankala had left the dance just before sunrise. They were careful to avoid blanket-wrapped warriors who stood outside of certain tepees. The boys knew what was taking place inside the blanket-shrouded bundles; a warrior was with his special girl and the two were whispering to each other, and stealing kisses. Both Matowla and Tankala impatiently awaited the day they would be able to win some maiden’s affection, wrap her in their blanket, whisper promises, and then attempt to ‘discover-her-taste.’

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