Elk Heart and Eagle Feather had some steaks ready to cook, so as they did
this, Cliff Hawk explained how he got his name.
It had been years before when he first reached the age where he could accompany the hunters of the tribe. They travelled many days north and came to some sandstone cliffs that were over 100 feet
high and a mile long.
Flaming Eagle took them to the north end and then back south along the edge
of the beautiful cliff. At the top they all stood silently gazing at the valley
During the climb, Ahmihadra spotted a nest in the crags far below.
At the top he announced to all the men, "I will climb down to that nest and
bring back some feathers." Several braves laughed heartily, saying that there
was no way anyone (let alone this young kid) could do that. But the chief said
nothing. He looked at the teen and Ahmihadra saw what the
chief thought. "If you only say it, you are still a boy. If you do it, you are a man."
The rest of the men watched as Ahmihadra slowly, methodically
worked his way down to the nest below. It was a dangerous task, even for an
experienced climber. At one point he grabbed hold of a sapling growing from a
small crevice, but it gave way and he nearly fell, but his left hand and
foot were firmly planted. He swung out over nothing and swung back, quickly
finding a hand hold for his right hand. He was now only about 10 feet away from
the nest. He continued on, knowing how close to death that he was, but refusing
to accept defeat.
The young man made it to the nest, there were no hawks there at this moment,
he found two big yellow/gray feathers, stuck them in a band around his head and
started back. About 20 feet from the nest he heard a loud, shrill, piercing cry of
the hawk returning from the west. The bird was 100 feet away but closing fast
and came within 15 feet of the face of the cliff.
Ahmihadra kept going, but knew the big bird was warning him not to get
any closer. He gazed at the beautiful creature as it flew away and saw the
yellow/grey with red tipped wings, the climber wished he could fly with the
bird, but continued climbing back up.
At the top Flaming Eagle initiated a ceremony of manhood for the young man.
"Your name shall be Cliff Hawk from now on. You have shown great courage and
heart. The feather of the hawk is proof that you did what you saw in your mind."
At the village they permanently afixed the feathers to his head dress,
Cliff Hawk was now his name and identity.
Lianne found the story facinating and Cliff Hawk himself had gotten lost in the
telling of it.