How The White Man Came
A Tale from the Iroquois
Long, long before Columbus came to America, the Red Children were here. They were the first and only real Americans.
From the Big Sea Water on the east to the Big Sea Water on the west, ranged these Children of the Sun, as they called themselves.
Happy and free as the sunlight and air about them, they ran through wide forests all their own, or plied their bark canoes up and down the streams.
Then the Indian had a dream. This was long before Columbus dreamed his dream of the Western World.
In his dream the Indian saw a great White Bird coming out of the east. Its wings were stretched wide to the north and south. With great strength and speed, it swept toward the setting sun.
In fear and wonder the Indian watched this giant White Bird appear and disappear. He knew its meaning, and the Indian's heart was sad.
Then the White man came. From the Big Sea Water on the east he came, in his great white-winged canoe. With one hand pointing to the Great Spirit, and with the other extended to the Red man he came. He asked for a small seat. A seat the size of a buffalo skin would be quite large enough for him, he said.
In the name of the Great Spirit, the Red Children greeted the White man, and called him "brother." They gave him the seat he asked. They gave him a large buffalo skin also, and showed him where he could spread it by their council fire.
The White man took the buffalo skin. He thanked his Red brother in the name of the Great Spirit. Then he began to cut the skin into many, many small strips.
When the whole buffalo skin had been cut into narrow strips, he tied the strips together. They made a long cord that would reach over a long trail.
In amazement the Indians watched the White man while he measured off a seat as long and as broad as this cord would reach around. The "small seat," the size of a buffalo skin, became a tract of land.
Soon the White man asked for another seat. This time his seat took in the Indians' lodges and camp fire. He asked the Indians if they would move on a few arrow flights. This they did.
Then the White man wanted another seat. Each time it took a larger skin for him to sit upon. This time the skin stretched so far that it covered a part of the Indians' hunting and fishing grounds.
Again the Indians moved on. Again the White man followed. Each time his seat grew larger, until the Indian had a place but the size of a buffalo skin on which to sit.
Thus it was that the White man came. Like a great White Bird that swept from the Big Sea Water on the east to the Big Sea Water on the west, the White man came; and he drove the Indian from the rising to the setting sun.
Sources And Further Reading
Project Gutenberg Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers