It's the mid-1700s. An orphaned and ostracized fifteen-year-old Native American boy looks up at the bizarre, one-eyed medicine woman who has reluctantly agreed to take him in, and asks himself, "Why am I not dead?" He does not trust the "witch"and is horrified by her ways, but he has no other path to survival and to becoming both man and warrior.

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When a powerful warrior chieftain from his village threatens both his and the medicine woman's lives, the boy is secreted off to live in the wilderness. There, an ancient exiled hermit teaches him the dark past of his "witch" mentor and how to survive the ever-present dangers of deadly predators, both human and animal. The boy learns how animals think and what power that knowledge brings to him when he must make life/death decisions. In turn, these animal behavior lessons are woven into the fabric of the lessons he is being taught about human behavior and the leadership decisions he will eventually make in behalf of his people.