That night as the fires burnt, Mitigomij sat down beside Elue’wiet Ga’qaquj (El-away-we-it Ga-ah-gooch) Crazy Crow and said to all gathered as they warmed themselves, “Would everyone like to hear how I saved the Crow Man’s life this winter?”
Several of the gathered warriors spoke in unison saying, “Yes, we would like to hear how one great warrior saved another great warrior’s life!”
Elue’wiet Ga’qaquj (El-away-we-it Ga-ah-gooch), cleared his throat and nervously laughed, as Mitigomij sat beside him and related the tale.
It all started, Mitigomij began, when we decided to separate to go on a hunt, figuring that we would have better luck covering twice the area. It was bitterly cold, and we had to cover our faces with our fur scarves, only letting our eyes peek out from under the fur protection from the harsh wind. I was gone five suns and had little luck, one scrawny rabbit that Makadewà Wàban (Ma-ka-de-wa Wah-bun: Black Death) and I shared. Hardly enough for myself, let alone a full-grown cougar. The evening of the fourth sun I was able to dig into a large drift making a warm sleeping burrow just large enough for myself and the cat.
That morning, a noisy crow sitting at the opening of our burrow woke us. Figuring my good friend had made a kill we quickly followed the bird as it led us through the forest until about mid-day. The snow was very deep, but my snowshoes enabled me to keep up with our overhead messenger. The sky was bright blue and the only noises in the forest were the branches snapping in the cold, the intermittent knocking of woodpeckers searching for a meal, and the occasional displeasure of a jay whenever we happened into their area.
It was very close to dusk when we arrived in a clearing where there was a loud gathering of noisy crows around a frozen moose carcass. The crows were making busy diving at a pack of seven wolves, which were intent on obtaining a meal from the dead animal lying in the blood encrusted snow that surrounded the area. With a loud scream from Makadewà Wàban and a yell from me the wolves reluctantly backed off. As I approached the animal I wondered where Elue’wiet Ga’qaquj (El-away-we-it Ga-ah-gooch) was. The crows were here and if he had slain this moose he should be nearby. As I came closer to the moose. I could hear what I thought was a muffled sound of someone saying my name. Standing beside the carcass I was sure I could hear my name being called from within the dead beast. Makadewà Wàban sat down and stared at the animal’s chest. I knelt, then peered into a small opening in the moose’s chest.
There he was, Elue’wiet Ga’qaquj (El-away-we-it Ga-ah-gooch) inside the moose’s belly which was frozen stiff. Once I cut him out, he told me that after he had slain the animal and gutted it he was almost frozen, so he had crawled inside to get warm. There he fell asleep. The next morning, he awoke to the sounds of the wolf pack and the crows noisily fighting over the carcass. The body of the animal had frozen stiff and he could not get out. The wolves were intent on having a meal from the dead animal, the crows were just as intent on keeping them away from the stiff remains. He told me that he had been inside the animal for two days before I showed up to save him. That is the story!
Elue’wiet Ga’qaquj (El-away-we-it Ga-ah-gooch) stood up and said “You have never known the closeness of death until you have spent two days in the belly of the beast!”
Everyone laughed and many said that was the best survival story they had heard in a long time. Some of the warriors dipped their cups into the tea container and others left the fire to go to their sleeping areas.