The Last Track
Told by Bob Red Hawk
Transcribed and Translated into Lenape by Amira Silver-Swartz
Edited by Louise St. Amour
This was actually a story that happened to me. I was out in the woods and I had come
upon a raccoon that had been hit by a car. I had always loved raccoons and it really struck me
how sad it was. And I went home and I told my grandfather, and he said, “grandson, why don’t
you go back to where that raccoon is, and why don’t you follow the tracks that he left”. And I
said “well, what for?” and he said “well, sometimes the last track a person makes isn’t the most
So I went back to that raccoon and I followed the tracks, and they went all over the
place, and it gave me a good understanding of that raccoon, I saw that that raccoon stopped
and looked at a tree, and thought “well, that raccoon was probably admiring that tree” and I
kept following those tracks, took me all day, and finally when I came to an old log, and I
reached in that log, and I pulled out a baby raccoon. And first my heart was really…I thought,
oh my god, not only was that poor raccoon hit by a car, but it left a little baby! This is a terrible
thing, this is a terrible day, a terrible tragedy. And I took that raccoon home with me. And I
fashioned a bottle to feed that raccoon, and I fed it milk, and then as it got bigger I started
feeding it, and I love that raccoon.
And then the raccoon grew to be an adult raccoon, and I thought, “well you know, in
nature, a raccoon should go out and be a raccoon” and the raccoon did. I said “raccoon, go off
and live in the woods, you can come back and visit but go and live in the woods”. And the
raccoon did. And then a couple months later it came back, and it had a family. It had made it,
and a whole new generation. I went back and told my grandfather, I said “grandfather, this is beautiful, I mean, look
what happened!” And he said “grandson, you told me when you found that raccoon dead, that
that was a terrible day. But we’re never the last track we leave. You have to go back, and you
went back, and by doing that, you saw that the last track wasn’t the last track, there were many
tracks left to come. Sometimes we can’t see past that last track, but by you finding that little
one, a whole new generation came from that. So sometimes don’t look at the last track, look at
what came before, and that will be the future. Things will make sense after that.
Yu she achimewaken le. Mpemeska tekenink ok neyo nahenem. Na nehenem
this here story it is true i-walk in-the-woods and i-see-him raccoon the racoon
tolhukwen tepchehelas. Ntaholaok nek nahenemuk ok nshielaimkwen. Nemachi
he-was-hit-by-it car/wagon I-love-them the raccoons and it-made-me-sad i go home
ok ntela nemuxumes ok luwe “Nuxwiti, kwetki tekenink ok kemaxkao
and i-tell-him my-grandfather and he-said grandchild you-return to-the-woods and you-find-him
na nahenem; Na nahenem, penthatu.” Naotuna. Nteluwe, “keku wenchi?”ok luwe,
that raccoon that raccoon he-left-tracks follow them. i-said why and he-said
Takuu kpenamen a lenii wikwetunk. Nkwetki nahenemink ok mpenhala,
not you-look-at-it should just the end of the trail I-return to-the-raccoon and i-track-him
ok yukwe nenustaw na nahenem, Kwiakwi mpenhala na nahenem. Nemen
and now I-understand-him the raccoon more I-track-him the raccoon i-see-it
nahkihele ok pwenao na hitukw ok ntite, “konaet na nahenem welinao
he-stopped and he-looks-at-him the tree and I-thought maybe the raccoon he-admires-him
na hitukw”ok lahapa mpenhala, ok xantki xuwi oholichesunk mpa,
that tree and for a while I-track-him and finally old to-a-hollow-log I-come
Oholichesunk nemaxkao nahenemtet. Ntite, “Eche! Mimentet! Ok nshielintam.
In-the-hollow-log i-find-him little raccoon I-think (surprise!) a-baby and i-am-sad
Mpesha na nahenemtet ok nemachihena. Na nahenemtet, ntaxama nunakan.
I-bring-him the raccoon and we(exc)-go-home the little-raccoon i-feed-him milk.
Alemiku, ok ntaxama mehemichink. Ntahola na nahenem.
he-begins-to-grow and i-feed-him food I-love-him that raccoon
Xuniti maxkil na nahenem. Ntite, “na nahemen kench alemske”
soon he-is-grown-up that raccoon I thought that raccoon must he-leave
Nteluwe, “Nahemen, tekening kta, ok lapi knewelch.” Ok na nahenem alemske.
I-say raccoon to-the-woods you-go and again I-will-see-you and that raccoon he-leaves
Matanake kwetki na nahenem hapi tewenama. Nkwetki ok ntela nemuxumes
after-a-while he-returns that raccoon with his-family I-return and I-tell-him my-grandfather
Nteluwe, “Mexumsa, keneyo! Welemalsu!” Takuu kepenamen lenii wikwetunk.
I-say grandfather you-see-him he-is-well not you-look-at-it just end of the trail
Kepenamen liit .