| Her mother saw the moccasin as the warrior held it out. She began to wail. As others saw it, they began to sing the death song and wail also. But Newayee would not let them continue. He made them all stop. He said to wait until they knew there was a need for the death chant. To sing it without reason was only to call it. So they all became quiet.
He asked the warrior where he found it, and was told in the lower cave that was half full of water. Newayee said they would check more when it was light. Everyone was to rest now. So they all tried to rest. Only the children seemed to be able to sleep tho. Everyone else just waited for daylight.
When it was light enough to see, the warriors were all ready to leave. Newayee told them to check on the village if they could. There were three groups going, One from each of the large caves. Ozawahn Migizi was leading the group from his cave,
The water in the river was dark and full of tree limbs and some dead animals and other debris. It was still higher than it should be, but still had gone down some from what it had reached the night before.
The closer they got to where the village was, the quieter it seemed to be. Suddenly Ozawahn Migizi saw a cradle board up in the branches of a tree. It was moving slightly as if there was a baby in it. He told the others he was going to see. They got as close as they could. Ozawahn Migizi grabbed the lower branch of the tree that hung over the river and pulled himself up. He went to the top of the tree and looked in the cradle board. Then he took the board off the limb it was hanging on and put it on. He went back to the canoe and showed the others he did indeed have a baby. It was little Nibi, "Water", son of Ininaig, "Maple", and his wife Waaban, "Dawn".Nibi looked up at the men with wide eyes. Yet he did not cry. They went on toward the village. Each canoe finding something. Some found friends that were dead. All finding parts of clothing and supplies that used to be in the village.
Then they heard weeping. It was faint but they all heard it. They all went in the direction the sound was coming from. They finally saw Wawashkeshshi, "Deer", high up on some large rocks. They called to her. She stopped crying and looked toward them. She did not expect to see them. She called down and told them she needed help. Beboong, "Winter", was hurt and she could not lift him. Some of the warriors went up to help her and soon had both of them in their canoe. The warriors in that canoe decided to take them back to the caves, as Beboong was bad hurt, They would return soon with as many other canoes as they could get. By the end of the day there were 20 people still alive taken back to the caves. Some were hurt bad, but they were all alive for now. There were many bodies found. Some smashed against rocks, some impaled on trees. Some were not whole either. There were parts missing from them. One had the head missing. It was not an easy day for any of the warriors.
When they reached the place where the village had been, there was no sign it had ever been there. Not even a fire pit was left. The earth was washed clean of any trace of their people. They had found many bodies and parts of bodies. Yet there were many, many more they found no trace of at all.
Half of their people were gone. Half of a great tribe. Those that were left had a sad task ahead. They must prepare burial mounds, find as many of the dead as they could find, and bury them as soon as possible. Yet they had to also perform the burial ceremony as called for by their traditions. The elder that performed this ceremony, was chosen by the one before him. He would be trained for many years by the elder that had chosen him. The elder in this tribe, and his apprentice in training, had remained in the village. Now a new elder had to lead the ceremony. If it was not done right, the spirits would be insulted. Great care had to be taken.
A new place for the mounds was chosen. Well away from shore. A place picked by the spirits it seemed. The forest had been cleared of trees in a wide path. They had been taken by their roots. This left Mother Earth soft and easy to make into the burial mounds needed. One of the shamans smudged and chanted a prayer in this place to cleans and purify. As the aroma of white sage, tobacco, yerba santa, and pine resin filled the air, the mounds were made ready.
There was much wailing and crying and chanting. Great sadness was upon everyone. Yet life must go on. The tribe must go on. After the proper amount of time had passed, Newayee spoke to the people about their next move.
|music: Silent Tears|