The HARK Journal recognizes student talent from elementary-to-university level.
Enjoy the student contributions below.
High School Division
Deep in the piney forests of the Caddo Indian territory, near the Red River, a young man sat wondering about the ways of the world.
His name was Saku. Born into a family of potters, he spent his entire day making pots. Saku worked through the daylight hours to keep up with the tribe’s demands. Pottery was time-consuming, but rewarding to him because the pots would last a long time, and they were talked about throughout the tribe.
After several years, Saku lost interest in making pots and considered switching professions. This affected his work ethic, and people in the tribe started taking notice. The tribal elder, worried about Saku’s wellbeing, came and talked to Saku. He confessed he was disheartened by the idea of making pots for the rest of his life.
The elder said changing professions required the consent of Saku’s ancestors. That night, Saku had a dream in which he spoke to his ancestors. His ancestors told him that he could change his profession as long as he kept doing pottery as a pastime. An excited Saku told the village elders right away and searched for a new profession.
Saku chose a dynamic profession --- a hunter. He was confident because he was very good with his hands and his skill with a bow was excellent. The hunting was easy work for him due to a plentiful supply of animals throughout the piney forest. His new profession provided him with a considerable amount of free time, which he chose to spend resting and refining his skills. However, he started scouting potential mates because he was almost twenty-one and had not had a child yet. His eyes set on Aada, the Chief’s daughter. She was about his age, maybe a year or two younger, and if she were his wife, he’d have all the status he needed.
Saku’s hopes soon began to fade when he found out Aada was seeing Dohasan, a hunter who was very liked in the tribe and came from a family of very high status. Like Saku, Dohasan seemed to get most of the things that he wanted. Saku began his quest to win over Aada by exaggerating everything he did. He told the tribesmen that he had killed two bears with one arrow. Word quickly spread, but most did not believe these implausible tales. Saku’s mental health suffered at being called a liar and he began to doubt his ability as a hunter.
In the midst of Saku’s self-pity, word spread that an alien group of people arrived on their lands. They had white skin and giant vessels which the tribesmen had never seen before. A few days prior, a group of tribesmen had been killed by the white men as they had attempted a peace offering. Saku rallied his fellow hunters and prepared them for a potential conflict with the white men.
The hunters refined their skills night and day for five days before there was any sign of the approaching white men. The white men approached and nerves increased as the tribe prepared for the impending conflict. Then as if time stood still, the conflict started and the entire woods erupted in battle cries. There were hundreds of strangely dressed men with armor never seen before and weapons that could kill from several yards away.
In the heat of the battle, Saku witnessed that the white men were having a hard time breaking through his defenses. Saku capitalized on this and gave a war cry, motivating his fellow hunters to follow after him. This prompted the white men to retreat and effectively ended the battle. As a result of Saku’s victory over the white men, he became a celebrity within the tribe, effectively upgrading his social status. He was recognized for his courage in the battle and his leadership to defeat the white men.
Several days later, Saku found out that his romantic rival, Dohasan, had been killed in the battle. Saku knew that Aada would eventually become his wife because he would be the only male heir in line for the position. When the village chief died several years later, Saku assumed the position. Saku held the position for several years and accomplished a lot of things for his people and used his influence to shape the course of history.
Under his reign as chief of the Caddo tribe, many good things happened. He extended trade with neighboring tribes in all directions. He worked out good relations with these tribes in order to keep peace for the rest of his life. Saku also put a heavy influence on the arts during his time as Chief. He insisted that the arts were crucial to moral development and cited his early years of pot making as an example. Saku let his story be known by having it written down and told to young children during their studies. Saku used his story of overcoming great odds to motivate young people to do the same.
From the Author: This story is historically significant to the Ark-La-Tex because of the Caddo Indians’ use of pottery and how they first met the Europeans. The Europeans initially made contact with the Caddo Indians in 1542. It is also significant because the Chief position was hereditary. Saku marries into the Chief’s family and was the only male ready for the position.