After many years Wakinyan Duuta found himself in a similar spot. His thoughts took him away from the tracks of the elk he was following most of the past hour. He slowly and quietly followed the tracks thru the late winter snow. It was difficult because the snow had melted a few times already and the snow was crisp.

“Isagha – Disa-hi at’a” ( Grandfather, I am going hunting)

I think that I should try and get that big bull elk that has been calling the past couple of days. I have a couple of bullets left and we need meat to eat, Isagha.

He was young back then and saddled his horse up for the ride into the foothills early in the morning before the sun even thought of getting up. All the way he could hear the bull elk bugling from one area to the next trying to be the biggest and baddest. His horse was just as aware and eagerly took the bit and led the way.

Thoughts always enter the mind when a person rides alone and he thought of how he would dress out the elk after he brought it down and how his horse would pack it out while they would walk home late in the day. Both would be tired but he would feel like he provided for his family.

He wondered if he was brave enough would he ask that girl to go to a movie with him or hope that he sees her at the pow wow sometime. “Sini Dii Dli Shi”, he chuckled to himself. She would not be interested in him.

He thought about his cousins who in their young age already decided that they would go home early and leave their families to grieve over them.

He too became sad about them. He was just young after all and the world was beginning to not make sense to what Kunshi and Isagha would tell him.

People came into his life from all over the world earlier that year. They were of different languages and different ways about them that were not like the way the church was. They were different skin colours and similar to his and one was even as black as the night. They were all kind and spoke of home and vision of what might be possible. He enjoyed their company.

One day I will see them again.

Silently he walked closer to the elk that was hidden by the heavy bush. This one was  a smart one and knew to keep out of sight while challenging all other elk.

“Come out and fight me if you think you have what it takes to take my herd,” he belted out time and time again. Other elk would yell back but they stayed their distance.

“We would fight but it would not be today,” they yelled back.

He sat in between all of this and crept closer and closer to the main bull.

There he saw him. His heaving stomach belting out another challenge. Covered in mud from his wallow and smelling strong with his perfume that only other elk would like. Certainly not him.

He raised his gun and the cows ran in any direction they could to get away. Some almost ran over him. The bull stayed and fed the family for most of the winter.

The years passed and he lived a life full of experiences.

He never asked where his life was leading and of all the people he had met in his travels fed him the same way the elk fed his family. They nourished him. Some briefly and others for longer times but they always took care of him. For that he was thankful.

He thought about the Heyoka’s that led him on his travels, about the time in the Navy, about his past marriage and past sweethearts. The ceremonies that requested he become a part of were all things that guided him to the next checkpoint, the next rest stop, the next difference between life and death.

His old Pictures fading to gray as much as his hair was now but that didn’t matter to him.

He remembered grief, grief at the loss of family, of loss of friends, of loss of time.

Isagha told him when his first cousin passed away

“Grief never ends ma-kok-ins…. It changes in time and it is not a place to stay but it is the road to take. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or you lack faith…. That is the price of love.”

Now he was going thru the grief but remembered those words well. Maybe he can’t change the world to be better but the secrets stolen from deep inside of him were coming out and he was forever changed.

He knew that his love would someday come to him and he felt good.

He went back to tracking the elk as silently as he could because the people needed to be fed and he had the ability to help.

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