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The Indians of the Great North Woods 6

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THE INDIANS OF THE GREAT NORTH WOODS 6. The early Indians.—When white men first came to America, they thought it was a country called India, of which they had often heard. Therefore they called the people whom they found here Indians. They also called them red men, because their skins were about the color of an old copper cent. These red men did not have many tools, and they lacked many other things which make it easy to work and to live. As they had no horses, cows, pigs, sheep, or chickens, they had to catch wild animals for food. They had no guns or rifles; so they made spears and bows and arrows with which to kill their game. They had no iron; so their arrow points and spear heads were of shafpened stone, as was also a heavy tool called a tomahawk, shaped something like our hatchet. It was a very dull, poor hatchet, however. As. they had no cloth for clothing, they used instead the skins of wild animals which they caught in traps or shot with their bows and arrows. Instead of houses, they had tents or wigwams made of skins. When the white man came, his things seemed wonderful to the Indians, and they were very happy to trade furs and game for blankets, guns, powder, and bullets. The Indians like bright, pretty things, so they were very fond of trading for beads to make necklaces and ornaments for their leather suits.

7. The Indians of time passed, the white men took most of the Indians' country, but there is still a large part of North America where there are more Indians than white men. This land is far to the north in Canada and Alaska, in a wide strip between the towns and farms of the white men and the cold snowy land of the Eskimos. You have heard men who were soldiers in the World War talk about England, France, and Germany; but the country where the Indians still have their hunting grounds is larger than those three countries put together. The land is cov ered with evergreen forests. The winter is long and the summer is short. It is a great, cold, silent land of deep snow and trees. Since it is too cold and rocky for the white man to make farms, he has not gone there and cut down the trees. There

are no cities or houses, nothing but forests where the Indian hunts game and lives in his tent or hut as he has always lived.

To trade with these Indians, the white men have built stores at the edge of the Indian coun try. They are called trading posts. When the warm days of June come, and the ice is all melted, the keeper of the post at the mouth of Great Whale River on the coast of Hudson Bay begins to look up the river (Fig. 15), watching for canoes to come around the bend. At last he sees one coming. In front sits Sulian, an Indian woman, paddling, and in the stern sits Otelne, her husband, paddling and also steering. They are coming to the post to trade. In the middle of the boat are a boy, a girl, a baby, and a dog. The boy's name is Akusk (arrow); the girl's name is Wabogun (flower). The baby, whose name is Wabshish (little white hare), is safe and warm in a bag tied to a board. The canoe contains one thing more, a very precious thing—a big bundle of fur skins. These furs mean the Indian's wages for a whole year, his pay for a hard winter's work in the forest.

8. Camping at the trading keeper of the post shakes hands with Otelne. Otelne opens the bale of furs, and the 'first afternoon he trades a few muskrat skins for some flour, beans, bacon, and canned peaches. Then the Indians have a feast, and camp at the post. Day by day other canoes come down the river, bringing more families, until the post looks like a great picnic ground. The Indians talk of happenings of the year—of how they were lost in storms, of how their canoes were upset, of how they fell through the ice, of the bears they caught, and of the wolves that chased them. They wonder what has happened to the Indians who have not come back. They race with each other in their canoes, and the different groups of families, or tribes, play match games of la crosse. This game, which the white men learned from the Indians, is now the national game in Canada, just as baseball is in the United States.

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