THE LAST TRACK
A true story by Robert Red Hawk Ruth, Chief of the Lenape Nation, a Native American tribe located in Pennsylvania.
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 important track.”
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, 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
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.”