Manataka American Indian Council
A New Bow for Tani
A Cherokee Story
was a small Cherokee lad who lived during the great Hundred Years War between
the Northern and Southern tribes. When he was twelve years old, Tani's only wish
was to own a bow like his father's, a strong hickory bow with a stout hide thong
and a quiver of straight strong arrows.
Each time he would approach his father about owning such a bow, his father would laugh, and placing his hand on his son's head, tell him in a kindly voice that he was still a little too young to handle a man-sized hickory bow. This always made Tani feel a little sad because, being a boy of twelve, he thought he was man enough to own one.
One day Tani's father called Tani to him and told him they would be going on a hunting trip and asked if he would like to go along. Tani was overjoyed and all he could think about for the next three days was the forth coming trip with his father. When the time finally arrived,
Tani prepared for the trip just as his father did and noticed his father place war paint on his face and chest and arms. Tani said good-bye to all, and when he said good-bye to his mother he noticed she was crying. He did not understand, for his father had not told him that the hunting trip they were going on was to seek out Talitanigska, one of the great Cherokee Chieftains, and report to him the movements of a large band of Seneca Indians. This was a very dangerous journey, for the Seneca Indians were deadly enemies of the Cherokee Tribe.
As Tani and his father traveled swiftly along the back paths of the vast forests toward the encampment of Tahtanigska, one thought kept rushing through the little brave's mind: What great adventure was his father leading him into? Tani soon learned the answer to this question. That evening, as Tani and his father were seated at a small guarded fire off to the side of the trail, Tani's father told him the nature of their task.
The little brave's heart pounded as he learned the reason for their journey. That night as they rolled in their blankets and slept, Tani dreamed of many Seneca Indians attacking his father and himself and of his standing back to back with his father, beating off the attackers When the dawn broke, Tani and his father were on their way. They were careful to avoid any soft earth that might leave signs for roving Seneca's to find and follow.
About mid afternoon Tani's father turned into a shallow stream and started north against the current. Suddenly, his father slipped and fell heavily head first into the stream. Tani reached his father's side and found his father could not stand. He helped him ashore and seated him against the trunk of a tree on the bank. A gash was red with blood across the forehead of Tani's father. Tani saw that his father's ankle was badly twisted. Not a word was spoken, but Tani built a small fire and made his father as comfortable as possible.
For several hours as the sun slowly sank behind the hills, Tani's father worried about the situation he and his son were in. He was tired and he must have dozed, for he woke with a start as he felt his bow being lifted from his fingers. He watched in silence as Tani fitted an arrow to the bow, pulled back the string and let fly. The arrow buried itself in a near-by bush. There was a thud, followed by a terrifying scream. A Seneca sprang up and fell dead across the path. Tani rushed forward and, having made sure their enemy was dead, returned to his father's side. Without a word he continued his sleepless watch.
The night passed without incident but as dawn approached, Tani heard a rustle in the near-by bush. He raised his bow ready to fire, but recognized the head feathers of his Cherokee brothers and let the bow drop to the ground. He leaped forward with a happy cry. The two braves were from Talitanigska's camp. They quickly made a sling hammock to carry Tani's father and soon the four of them set forth for the great Chieftain's camp.
Once safely within the camp, Tani's father was well cared for and soon was able to stand once again on his injured foot. Two weeks after their arrival at Talitanigska's camp a great council fire was held to celebrate the victory of the Cherokees over their enemies, the Seneca's. As the festivities came to a close, Talitanigska stepped to the center of the ring and asked that Tani step forward. Then, in front of the great Cherokee Chieftains, Talitanigska took his stout hickory bow from his shoulder and placed it in Tani's hands.
"This is for you, Tani," he said, "for you are a great brave and now a man among men. You stood full of courage in the face of great danger. Because of your quick thinking, you saved your father's life and made it possible for your father to bring me the valuable information. This information helped our fellow tribesmen to meet and defeat the Seneca's, our enemies."
Tani did not know what to say; but the following morning, as he and his father prepared to leave, he stepped in front of Chief Tahtanigska and thanked him for the gift. He said he would always cherish the great hickory bow and remember the great kindness shown him by one of the great Chiefs of the Cherokee nation. Tani had his bow, just like his father's. There was no happier brave alive as he tramped closely behind his father on the path home.
Our thanks to Blue Panther Keeper of Stories
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