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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 15, 2002 - Issue 63


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Thunderhawk’s Dangerous Spring Encounter

by Geoff Hampton
credits: Installment Three of our Series

Thunderhawk and Blaze lived wonderful lives together. They flew wild and free in the beautiful skies over East Tennessee. Thunderhawk was the master of the air and Blaze possessed great wisdom that enhanced Thunderhawk's abilities. As a result of the Cherokee Indian named Running Deer's care for Thunderhawk when he was near death as a young bird, Thunderhawk continued to watch over the young creatures of happy valley. Thunderhawk also stressed the importance of caring for the young creatures to his mate Blaze who also helped him keep an eye out for danger.

Thunderhawk and Blaze's home territory in and around the happy valley area of Blount County, Tennessee was filled with many different forms of wildlife. There were coyotes, red wolves, deer, mice, owls, eagles, snakes and all sorts of other wild creatures. Each season of the year brings about different changes in Mother Nature and all creatures must adapt their lifestyle accordingly. The food sources vary from season to season as do the opportunities of finding food. There was always great adventure and fun available and Thunderhawk loved to have fun! However, there was also great danger; especially in the Springtime.

One beautiful spring morning as Blaze was soaring high above happy valley she noticed the young members of the O'Malley mouse family wandering far from their home ground. In the springtime most animals are very hungry from the winter season when food is scarce. Mice are a large part of the diet for many predators so it is important for small animals like mice to be extra careful in the springtime.

On this particular morning the mice were headed up to a beautiful area of their beloved Smoky Mountains known as Gregory's Bald. Gregory's Bald is most beautiful in the springtime, as there are thousands of wild flowers blooming. The sights and smells at Gregory's Bald at that time of year had been a favorite for the O'Malley family for many generations.

As the little mice made their way up to the top of Gregory's Bald, a hungry coyote caught their scent drifting in the breeze. This particular coyote, named Old One Eye by the creatures of the valley was a formidable foe for all mice. His hunting abilities were exceptional, especially since he only had one eye. He had lost the other eye when he was young in an encounter with an angry mother bear. In that encounter Old One Eye had been drawn to the distressed sounds that a baby bear was making. The baby bear had become separated from his mother. Coyotes use all of their senses to locate potential meals and their hearing is exceptional. Coyotes are attracted to the sound of distressed animals and know that a lost baby is usually an easy meal. Being young and inexperienced Old One Eye had no way of knowing how fast and aggressive an angry mother bear can be.

As Old One Eye had crept toward the baby bear he suddenly had come face to face with the enraged mother bear. The mother bear attacked him and mauled him. Although Old One Eye did escape with his life it had been a costly but valuable lesson. The bear had gouged one of his eyes with her sharp claws and the coyote would never be able to see with it again. The damaged eye turned pure white and was frightening looking to the other animals of happy valley.

Through the years, Old One Eye had learned many valuable lessons and had become highly skilled at hunting. Mice have no natural defense against such a large predator so awareness is a skill that mice must learn in order to survive. All young animals learn how to stay alive through a combination of experiences. One of the laws of Mother Nature is that only the strong, smart and lucky survive. In nature, it is not typical that creatures of another species will protect one another. That is what made Thunderhawk so unique. His ongoing efforts to protect the young creatures of happy valley was indeed fortunate for many who had encountered danger that they would have never escaped if Thunderhawk had not intervened on their behalf.

The O'Malleys in particular had been the recipient's of many rescues by Thunderhawk. This day was going to turnout to be a day that only Thunderhawk would be able to save the little mice. As Old One Eye zeroed in on the location of the baby mice Blaze happened to be in the neighborhood and spotted the danger. She flew immediately to let the great hawk know that Old One Eye was stalking the O'Malley children.

Thunderhawk let a loud "Screeeee!" sound and took off from his perch with Blaze. Blaze led him to the area where she had last seen the O'Malley's. Thunderhawk had been involved in a nasty encounter with Old One Eye many years ago and they had a strong dislike for each other. Old One Eye was a hateful beast that killed outside of Mother Nature's plan (kill only what you will eat) and Thunderhawk knew that Old One Eye enjoyed killing just for fun.

As the O'Malley's noisily made their way through a rocky ledge they heard Old One Eye let out an eerie howl. They were immediately filled with fear as the coyote was very close by. Fiona told the others to follow her. She ran as fast as she could with the others close behind. Fiona saw a Dogwood tree that had fallen down and ran under the tree for safety. She thought that all of the others made it under the tree with her. They were all breathing heavily and they were filled with fear. Their sister Kelly had been killed by Old One Eye a little over a year ago in the springtime so they all knew how dangerous he was.

As the mice hid under the tree they saw Old One Eye appear with his nose to the ground. He had been following their scent and knew exactly where they were. As Old One Eye approached the fallen Dogwood tree his one good eye met Fionas. Fiona's eyes were bulging with fear Old One Eye let out a frightening howl and all of the children began crying. Old One Eye then began growling and his mouth began to salivate with drool dripping down the sides of his jowls. The sight was terrifying. Even more terrifying was the fact that as Paddy looked around he realized that their sister Colleen was not under the tree with them! Paddy cried out to Fiona that Colleen was missing. Fiona began calling out through her frightened sobs for Colleen but she got no answer.

Suddenly Old One Eye lunged at the tree and began using his giant paws to rapidly dig the earth away so that he could get to the mice. They were all screaming in fear as the snarling growling coyote dug and snapped his jaws at the tiny mice. He was digging fast and hard and the little mice knew that they could never survive. They knew that at least one if not all were about to become victims of Old One Eye.

Even though mice are tiny they have very sharp little teeth. Their teeth could not save them from a large predator like a coyote, especially not one a large as Old One Eye but their teeth could certainly inflict pain. Suddenly Old One Eye let out a loud yelp and spun his body away from the little mice. They all looked on in surprise as they saw Colleen hanging on Old One Eyes tail. She had run up behind him and jumped up and clamped her teeth hard on the coyote's tail.

This gave the other mice a chance to run for better cover. As they ran to a large rock they saw Old One Eye fling little Colleen off his tail. She hit the side of another large rock and fell motionless to the ground. Old One Eye was enraged. He charged towards the motionless little mouse as the other mice screamed in fear.

Suddenly Old One Eye felt a horrible pain in his back. The little mice looked on in stunned silence as they saw Thunderhawk swoop down and sink his sharp talons deeply into the coyotes back. Old One Eye made an awful sound. It was a combination of a yelp of pain and a growl of defiance. Old One Eye turned his head quickly and was able to grab Thunderhawk with his teeth. As he grabbed and ripped at Thunderhawk the birds sharp talons tore flesh and fur from the coyotes back. Old One Eye threw Thunderhawk to the ground in a violent shaking motion.

The little mice were frozen with fear at the terrible fight that was happening right before their eyes. Only a moment ago they had been frozen in fear for their lives but now they were frozen in fright at the sight of Thunderhawk and Old One Eye attacking each other. Old One Eye had the upper hand and Thunderhawk was in great danger as the beast aggressively bit and attacked the huge bird.

Then in an instant the coyote felt another terrible pain in his back. It was Blaze! She had joined the attack and had aggressively thrust her sharp talons into Old One Eyes back. As the coyote turned to face Blaze he was forced to release Thunderhawk who immediately assumed an imposing defensive stance with his huge wings spread wide and let out an ear splitting call, "Sacred!" The sound momentarily caused the coyote to stop and look back at Thunderhawk's menacing appearance. Thunderhawk had blood on his talons and beak from the coyote and blood was seeping out from behind the huge bird's thick feathers as Old One Eye had bitten him savagely.

Sean, Jr. and Paddy took advantage of this break in the action to run over and get Colleen. They brought her back to safety under the big rock. She had been knocked unconscious but was okay otherwise. The mice then turned their attention back to the fierce fight.

Old One Eye was a fearless animal so Thunderhawk's frightening appearance did nothing to intimidate the hateful beast. As he shook Blaze off of his back he turned and glared at Thunderhawk. Suddenly he attacked and Thunderhawk dropped to his back so that his razor sharp talons would be in position to inflict harm on Old One Eye. As the coyote lunged at Thunderhawk the bird ripped at the coyote's face with his talons. At the same instant Blaze again swooped down and attacked Old One Eye's back. The fight was furious.

The struggle continued for some time. Thunderhawk had been hurt in Old One Eyes initial attack and was unable to fly well enough to escape. Even a large bird like Thunderhawk could not survive long on the ground so Old One Eye had to either be killed or forced to run away if Thunderhawk was to live to see another day. Blaze's attacks were fearsome and combined with Thunderhawk's ability to defend with himself with his beak and his talons Old One Eye eventually gave up the fight. He also had been seriously wounded but a huge coyote who lives on the ground anyway has a much better chance of surviving than a wounded bird who can barely fly.

As the coyote cautiously backed away he continued to growl and snarl and saliva continued to drip from his bloody jowls. The little mice were still frozen in fear. They didn't dare try to get away just yet. They didn't know that neither Thunderhawk nor Blaze would hurt them and they didn't realize that Old One Eye had completely lost interest in them as a result of the terrible fight he had just been in.

The sun was now beginning to set in the west and the mice now had the additional problem of trying to get home in the dark. At night young mice are in even greater danger. Additional predators such as owls hunt at night and they love to eat mice also!

The little mice looked on as Blaze flew down on the ground and was tending to her injured mate. She suddenly noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. Blaze immediately took off and looked to see what the movement was. The movement had been the little O'Malley clan scurrying away as quickly as their little feet could carry them!

Blaze returned to the ground to help Thunderhawk. Although he could not fly well enough to return home that night they both knew that he must summon enough strength to fly high enough in a nearby tree in order to roost safely that night. He would be able to try to fly again the next day after he recovered as much as he could through rest that night. Thunderhawk struggled but managed to fly a little bit at a time. Each time getting higher and higher into the tree. When he got to a safe height he rested a moment and then spoke to Blaze. He instructed her to find the little mice and make sure that they got home safely that night. He knew that the owls and other predators would find them as easy meals. Blaze was reluctant to leave her mate but she respected his wishes.

By this time it was dark and Papa and Virginia O'Malley were worried sick about their babies. They didn't know where they had gone and they never stayed out after dark. Virginia was crying and started to run out to find the little ones. Papa O'Malley stopped her and warned her that nighttime was too dangerous to go looking for them. Especially since they didn't even know what direction the children had gone off in. Virginia wept uncontrollably as Papa O'Malley did his best to comfort her. All of the other mice in the O'Malley's homeground gathered around to add their support to the frightened O'Malley's and to keep a watchful eye out for the little ones.

As the tiny mice made their way slowly through the darkened woods their ears heard all sorts of frightening sounds. They heard coyotes howling off in the distance. They heard a loud crashing off to their left which had been two deer leaving the area noisily. Through their frightened sobs they also heard an owl calling out, "Whoo Whoo Whoo Whoo." They were so scared. They knew that they could be attacked at any moment.

As the tiny mice passed through a stand of cedar trees they were startled by a sudden racket of gobbling from the top of the cedar trees. The springtime is the mating season for many creatures, including wild turkeys. The male turkeys, called gobblers are very high strung. Loud noises cause them to spontaneously gobble loudly out of agitation. They especially get annoyed at the hooting of an owl. After being startled by the gobblers Fiona laughed out loud which broke the tension for all of them. She said, "That was just a silly turkey!" They all laughed again.

Blaze caught up with the little mice as they were coming out the other side of the cedar thicket. She was happy that she was in time to watch over them and that nothing else had happened before her arrival. Blaze flew ahead of the mice towards their home ground in order to look for predators. The mice were in luck because Blaze spotted an owl scanning a field that the little mice would be crossing on their way home. Blaze flew aggressively at the owl and was able to frighten it away.

Although the little mice were frightened the entire trip home they were able to get back safely. As they crossed over the last field before their homeground they ran as fast as they could. They were all screaming and crying as they ran. Papa and Virginia heard their screams and many mice ran out to bring them back into safety. There was joyous sobbing and hugging but Papa O'Malley was furious with them.

As Fiona told the story of what had happened that day, the other mice listened in stunned silence. They knew that the children had been very close to never coming home again. With that thought in mind Papa O'Malley realized how lucky the children had been and even though he was angry he knew that they had learned a valuable lesson.

Blaze flew back to be with her mate that night. Thunderhawk was pleased that Blaze had scared the owl away for the little mice. Thunderhawk and Blaze knew that they were both lucky as well. If Blaze had not been with Thunderhawk he would have never survived the ferocious attack from Old One Eye. It was truly a day for all to thank the Great Creator for the lessons that were learned.

Thunderhawk's injuries were serious but with Blaze at his side he was able to make a full recovery. In three days he was able to return home. He was very grateful for all that Blaze had done to help him in the struggle against Old One Eye. Together they would be able to master very difficult situations that they would encounter. The Great Creator smiled and all was well that day in happy valley.

The End

(c) 2002 GeoffHampton

Geoff Hampton is an internationally known author, speaker, motivator and business consultant. He is also the Marketing Director for Indian Voices newspaper and can be reached by E-mail at

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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