Coyote watched these strange new people. And felt just a little
sorry for them. How could they survive in this land above ground with its predators and
dangers? But then how could they have survived below ground with it's cold, darkness, and
lack of food? It was a puzzle. They were weak and soft with no claws or fangs. They were
slow of foot, and had little stamina.
At first he didn't notice, but now after much time he was beginning to
see that they were quite clever. When they first crawled from the hole in that old
cottonwood stump, they could barley feed themselves. They ate grubs, crickets, worms and
lizards. At night they would huddle together, shiver and quake until the sun returned.
Then they would grovel in the dirt stuffing bugs in there mouths like moles.
As time progressed they began to learn things. At first they were small
things. How to make a snare to catch a rabbit. How to use a broken piece of stone
with a sharp edge to cut with. They were learning to catch fish by chasing them into small
traps made of thin willow branches. They made huts of brush to keep off the chill of the
night. Granted they were still eating insects and reptiles , but they were making
progress. Only a short time ago he saw one of them with a sharpened stick stalking a fawn.
Of coarse the young deer heard him and bolted before the man could get near enough to stab
it, but it was a close thing.
Yesterday he watched three of the males constructing something similar
to the fish trap, across a box canyon. The men worked hard all day on this, cooperating
like wolves herding buffalo. At the same time others worked near a rock slide, tying heavy
stones to the ends of forked sticks, with strips of rabbit hide.
This morning Coyote watches from a hill above the Fug-a-we camp. The
sky is just beginning to turn red in the east. The camp is awake men, women, and children
are walking out onto the prairie. Steadily they walk in a long line. Coyote follows,
curiosity pulling him along. After a time the tribe turns north walking abreast. Those in
the center slowing, those on the ends speeding up slightly. Forming a crescent they move
toward the box canyon. After a short distance a rabbit jumps up from the grass and starts
running away from the human beings. Then another rabbit does the same. A young deer jumps
up and heads north. As the line moves toward the box canyon more and more animals flee.
The closer to the canyon they get the faster the humans walk. Those on the end of the line
begin to angle inward . The people begin to close up walking closer and closer together,
faster, and faster they move. The animals are beginning to panic, darting back and forth
many escape, but some are forced to move north by the moving line of people.
The Fug-a-we are almost running now, they can see the enclosure in the
canyon. The animals are being forced ever closer to it. Deer, antelope, and a young
buffalo, all being pushed toward the trap. Now, the humans begin to run yelling and waving
there sticks. Striking out at rabbits that try to turn back through the line. Some of the
long ears are killed, most escape, a few are pushed forward into the trap. Once the prey
enter the opening , the tribe rushes forward to close the door. Pulling poles across the
entrance and piling up brush to stop any hope of retreat.
Then the people climb over the fence. Jumping down into the pen they
begin swinging there heavy clubs. Bashing the skulls of the captured animals. The buffalo
charges a young Fug-a-we goring him with a sharp curved horn and tossing him into the air.
The boy falls to the ground and is trampled by the panicked animal. Without hesitation two
Fug-a-we strike the young bull with their clubs. He falls to his front knees and is struck
again and again until he lies lifeless on the ground.
Soon the killing is over. Five rabbits, three deer, two antelope, one
buffalo, and one human being lie on the ground. The people are exhausted, dirt and sweat
covers their bodies. They stand and look around, then at each other. A smile creeps across
the sweat and grime covered face of one of the men. Then another, and another. Then
someone begins to chant " Fug-a-we, Fug-a-we, Fug-a-we, Fug-a-we". Others join
in, then more. They begin to jump and caper, lifting their clubs into the air, and
shouting, "Fug-a-we, Fug-a-we, Fug-a-we". They know that they have made a great
change in their lives this day. They will no longer be weak, naked eaters of bugs and
lizards. From this day, they will be a force to be reckoned with. They are
"FUG-A-WE", "THE PEOPLE". They are HUNTERS.
A moan rises to a wail among a knot of women. One rushes to the
lifeless body of the young hunter who was gored by the buffalo. Bawling the woman kneels
on the ground and takes the battered body of the young man in her lap and rock's him like
a baby. The other women gather around her sharing her grief. After a time, they gently
move the distraught mother and her son to one side and begin the difficult task of
butchering their kill with their crude stone tools.
By watching the wolves and other predators the people have learned to
first open the bellies of there kill and remove the organs. They pass them around to be
devoured hungrily. Then the intestines are opened for the partly digested green matter.
All this is consumed with great relish. The people have never known such abundance, such
feasting. Next the hides are removed, and the carcasses jointed out. The meat is wrapped
in the skins to be carried back to camp. It will all be eaten raw since the people have
not yet learned the secret of fire. The bones will be cracked and the marrow sucked out.
Some of the sharper bone shards will be used as crude tools. The people are small and weak
and frail, but very clever.
Coyote sits on the edge of the canyon watching all this, and thinking
about what he has just witnessed. Yes, he decides, life will not be boring any more, now
that this new race of people has come to live in the world of light. As he rises a shiver
runs threw his body. He turns and lopes off toward his den.
The people pick up their burdens and begin the walk back to camp. First
Man (he who entered this world first, and gave the Fug-a-we there name) picks up the body
of the young hunter while two women help support the grieving mother. Slowly they start
toward camp. First Man is filled with mixed emotion.
He is happy that his people have made there first successful hunt. They have learned much
this day. They have gained much power through this learning. From now on the human beings
will grow stronger for now they will have meat. Life will be a little easier, but at what
cost? The life of a young boy is a very precious thing for such a small group to loose.
Many more such accidents and there will not be any Fug-a-we left. They must find better
methods of hunting. They must devise tools that will allow them to hunt more safely.
What must be done with the body of the boy? Many questions chase each
other in the head of First Man. Many problems need solving and the people look to him for
answers. Doubts assail him.
"If only I had... But then things are as they are and I am who I
am and I have done what I have done. I must seek the answers and solve the problems.
Perhaps the little yellow wolf who assisted our entry in to this world can help. Perhaps
not. At the first opportunity I must search for that one and ask him".