“My young friend knows our traditions. They do not tell us that the Injins were Jews; they tell us that the Manitou created them red men. They tell us that our fathers used these hunting-grounds ever since the earth was placed on the back of the big tortoise which upholds it. The pale-faces say the earth moves. If this be true, it moves as slowly as the tortoise walks. It cannot have gone far since the Great Spirit lifted his hand off it. If it move, the hunting-grounds move with it, and the tribes move with their own hunting-grounds. It may be that some of the pale-faces are lost, but no Injin is lost—the medicine-priest is mistaken. He has looked so often in his book, that he sees nothing but what is there. He does not see what is before his eyes, at his side, behind his back, ail around him. I have known such Injins. They see but one thing; even the deer jump across their paths, and are not seen.
“Such are our traditions. They tell us that this land was given to the red men, and not to pale-faces. That none but red men have any right to hunt here. The Great Spirit has laws. He has told us these laws. They teach us to love our friends, and to hate our enemies. You don’t believe this, Bourdon?” observing the bee-hunter to wince a little, as if he found the doctrine bad.
“This is not what our priests tell us,” answered le Bourdon. “They tell us that the white man’s God commands us to love all alike—to do good to our enemies, to love them that wish us harm, and to treat all men as we would wish men to treat us.” Peter was a good deal surprised at this doctrine, and it was nearly a minute before he resumed the discourse. He had recently heard it several times, and it was slowly working its way into his mind.
“Such are our traditions, and such are our laws. Look at me. Fifty winters have tried to turn my hair white. Time can do that. The hair is the only part of an Injin that ever turns white; all the rest of him is red. That is his color. The game knows an Injin by his color. The tribes know him. Everything knows him by his color. He knows the things which the Great Spirit has given him, in the same way. He gets used to them, and they are his acquaintances. He does not like strange things. He does not like strangers. White men are strangers, and he does not like to see them on his hunting-ground. If they come singly, to kill a few buffaloes, or to look for honey, or to catch beaver, the Injins would not complain. They love to give of their abundance. The pale-faces do not come in this fashion. They do not come as guests; they come as masters. They come and they stay. Each year of my fifty have I heard of new tribes that have been driven by them toward the setting sun.
“Bourdon, for many seasons I have thought of this. I have tried to find a way to stop them. There is but one. That way must the Injins try, or give up their hunting-grounds to the strangers. No nation likes to give up its hunting-grounds. They come from the Manitou, and one day he may ask to have them back again. What could the red men say, if they let the pale-faces take them away? No; this we cannot do. We will first try the one thing that is to be done.”