Book One




           In 1787, the United States Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which contained a

section titled The Utmost Good Faith Law. This law declared, “ that utmost good faith shall always be

observed towards the Indians. Their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their

consent, and in their property rights and liberty they shall never be invaded or disturbed unless in

just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity shall from

time to time be made for preventing wrongs to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with

them. "
           The Organic Act of 1848 established the Oregon Territory and extended the Utmost Good Faith

Law to the new territory. Indian lands were not to be taken without their consent; a morally correct and

noble assertion nullified by passage of The Oregon Donation Land Act of 1850 which granted 320 acres

to all settlers in Oregon over 18 years of age. This act made it legal to claim land without consent or

treaty whether or not Indians already lived there and reduced Indian land by almost six million acres.
           So much for “utmost good faith”. The inevitable collision of cultures happened a century

previously, now came the mop-up crews; coupled with this new legislation was a plan to remove all

Indians from Western Oregon, to be overseen by the newly created Office of the Superintendent of

Indian Affairs.
           Native Americans were ejected from their property and villages burned, many murdered in cold

blood by ”volunteers “, Indian haters operating outside of any established authority, little more than

xenophobic desperados bent on genocide, whose vengeful, murderous raids were often born in taverns

and nourished with whiskey soaked bigotry.
           In Northern California, not far away, the Shasta Indians made treaty with the United States

Government at Fort Jones on the coast. At the celebration following the treaty signing, the Indians were

fed strychnine laced beef and bread. Then the vigilantes burned every village and killed most of the

remaining tribe members. Of the Shasta nation, which numbered about four thousand, 30 women and

170 men survived. Adding insult to injury, the treaty was never ratified by congress.
           The courts became a violent bludgeon with which to beat the Indians into destitution and

submission, legally authorizing the theft of land and resources, trampling on Indian rights, pride and

dignity at every turn. For three dollars and a signature, a citizen could indenture an Indian for twenty-

five years. Those who resisted were removed or killed. Local bands of volunteers roaming the

countryside killing Indian families received money and commendations from the state. Citizens were

paid fifty cents to five dollars for Indian scalps. California paid out over one million dollars for scalps.

Go figure.       
           This is what Native Americans were up against. This was the kind of legal system to which they

were forced to adjust. Events in Northern California and Southern Oregon had swept along swiftly and

powerfully, as if urged forward by the tempo of the mighty rivers rushing to sea. Those Indians that

were determined to remain peaceable like the Cow Creek band that lived along the Umpqua River who

ceded their land to the United States government for 2.3 cents per acre when the government was

selling similar land for $1.25 an acre (by the usual terms - a little cash and a lot of junk over a twenty

year span) found themselves without a home and protection. They were hunted down like animals and

driven out or killed.

           There were plenty of good Americans who sympathized with the plight of the Indians and

worked for their betterment, but theirs was not the prevailing political attitude or public sentiment at the

time, and the law abiding had no control over the hostile, racist, greedy, lawless factions bent on

extermination of the red people. Even among those who would spare the Indians’ unnecessary suffering

there was an underlying belief that Native Americans were doomed and destined to disappear in the

path of Western civilization; that their only salvation was to adopt the ways of the white man – speech,

dress, avocation and ideologies. Even the sincere and well meaning held the opinion that only dirt

diggers and capitalists had a place in the hereafter. They actually believed that a red man’s mind could

be emptied out like a bucket and replaced with that of a white man. Nothing could have been further

from the truth. For the sake of their children, the red people might cease to war, but they would never

cease to fight for the right to be.

           The brainwashing and indoctrination of the vulnerable, impressionable minds of Indian children

was the next logical step in the destruction of Indian culture and spiritualism. Even the most liberal

minded of American society pursued with religious zeal the idea that the Indian way of life was a threat

to white Christian society. By removing children from their homes and placing them in boarding schools

where they were not allowed to speak their own language and were trained to enter the social order at

the lowest levels, by beating them into submission and then force feeding them religious dogma the

non-Indians hoped to erase the Native Americans from existence without assaulting their own

consciences with all the untidy blood and death that accompanies blatant slaughter. Whether this

reflected the attitude of the populace or not was irrelevant to those on the receiving end. It had become

policy and law in a state where profit reigns supreme behind political rhetoric.

           It is sad to consider how much the two cultures had to contribute to one another’s benefit that

went untapped. It might have been a beautiful progression for humanity. Perhaps the evolution is still

unfolding. Maybe Americans will succeed in melding spirituality and practicality before it is too late.

Maybe American society will come to recognize that God is a living entity manifested in the earth from

which we arise. 

                                                           Only time will tell.



                                                                                             Chapter 1.

                                                                   The Power Of Words



          Big Belly was certainly not one of the brightest of the warriors, but he was one of the

meanest and by far the most vociferous. He invariably made a nuisance of himself around the council

fire. Being the most treacherous and violent did not earn him the most respect, however. His victories

were often achieved by superior numbers, ferocity and surprise attack and the rewards were rarely

worth the effort and sacrifice. Half his victims were women and children and half the rest were his own

braves and yet he personally felt he received half the respect and honor his deeds warranted.

           As for courage, Sun Stalker had his own definition. He maintained that one had to be smart

enough to know fear before bravery entered the equation. Big Belly was wild and implacable, but his

recklessness and lack of planning usually resulted in mourning around the campfires. To say the least,

Sun Stalker did not have the greatest respect for Big Belly's intelligence. Big Belly was bold, belligerent,

cruel and deadly, someone to be reckoned with these days; just the kind of man Sun Stalker chose to


           Sun Stalker had no real interest in the politics of his tribe, nor did he find power and glory

alluring. He was a seeker and a wanderer by destiny, a storyteller and historian by choice and a warrior

out of necessity. He did not enjoy killing and he certainly derived no pleasure from the bloodthirsty

attacks perpetrated on helpless, sleeping villages or lonely cabins. He fought down a yawn as Big Belly

ranted on. One of the head chiefs, Right Arm, actually did fall asleep and had to be nudged awake when

his snoring became audible.
          Big belly finally concluded and sat down. A sigh of relief spread through the council and the pipe

was quickly re-kindled.
          " I am made to think, " the head chief Bending Willow, said, " these white eyes are more trouble

than they are worth. It is possible to never even see them. They are disease ridden and crazy and they

stink like death. I say the less we have to do with them the better. We can go on living our lives and the

seasons will turn as always. Man Above has never let us down. We have always been here and always

will be. We already have our hands full with our ancient enemies. "
           Several of the leaders grunted their accord.

         " This much is true, " Eagle Face, one of the lesser chiefs, said, " we have enough trouble without

searching for more. A hard winter is coming and we have much to prepare. We should be out hunting

and smoking meat. That is what we should be discussing here. " There was a murmur of agreement and

also some good hearted snickering.  Eagle Face was well known for his voracious appetite.
         One of the young braves was urged forward by his companions.

         " May I speak, Grandfather? "  The young man used the salutation reserved for a respected elder.
         " Must we listen to every pup? This is a decision of men, " Big Belly complained.

         The young braves bristled with pride and raised their voices in a chorus of angry objections.
          Bending Willow waved them all to silence and fixed Big Belly with a scornful glare. " We are not

here to quarrel like children, that much is certain. We must always show respect to our younger

brothers. Their vision is new and fresh and vital to our people. A brave is a brave. Death does not ask

your age. They are required to sacrifice their lives as quickly as any one else. That is why they are

included. It would be rude and foolish to do otherwise. You may speak to the council, Running Fox. I

can see that you are the spokesman for many of the young braves. "
         " My heart thanks you, Chief Bending Willow. I come before you with great respect and humility,

but I will not bite my tongue. My heart must speak out what it sees to be the truth. I do speak for many

of my brothers. Our feelings burn. Where honor should reside there is hollowness. What is life without

honor? The white eyes have no sense of honor and they would have ours. They have lied to us and

cheated us again and again. Traded us trifles for large portions of our territory, the land of our

children's children, the sacred home of our ancestors. They have made fools of us. They have shamed

us. We are made to believe we must make a stand. It is wrong to think we can live our lives avoiding

these white eyes. They come from across the Great Water and there are as many as shoots of grass on

the prairie. The day is coming soon when it will not be possible to avoid them. Look what has happened

to brother beaver. When the white eyes first came to our country we tried to befriend them and they

were treacherous and proved untrustworthy. They have done little but rob and cheat us ever since. It is

more than our land; it is for our principles, our way of life and the honor of our sacred ancestors that

we must fight. The white eyes will someday fill our hunting grounds and drive away the game with their

animals and farms if we let them. They talk of sharing but intend to have it all. We must fight or risk

losing our self-respect as well as our future. It has become a matter of pride as well as survival that we

resist. "
         The young warriors vocalized their exuberant approval of his impassioned   speech.
         When they had settled down, it was Chief Gray Eagle, the eldest of the leaders, who spoke. " I

admire your words, Red Fox. If I were your age I would agree with you. "
          Several of the older men chuckled at this statement.

          " But one of the reasons I sit before you still breathing is because there were some patient old

chiefs around when I was younger to keep me from doing something rash or foolish. I just wanted to

fight and there were a thousand reasond to do so." He let that sink in and then continued. " The breath

of an elder is worthless unless it bears words of wisdom. Let me ask you this one question. If the white

eyes are as many as blades of grass on the prairie, how do you plan to stop them? "
         The young brave was not intimidated. " They are weak and the spirits do not stand by those

without honor. They are shackled to their farms and their forts whereas we are free to move where they

are lost. "
          " They have many guns, " Bending Willow said. " It doesn't take much strength or honor to pull a

trigger or an expert tracker to find a whole village. There is no question which side is the bravest or

most honorable. But it is one thing to sacrifice oneself and quite another to sacrifice the women and the

little ones of the tribe. For the good of all, sometimes a man must look beyond his own passions. Yes,

there is honor in dying but no more so than in living to fight on. Your own parents have made

such compromises in order for you to be standing there. Look around you. Would you see these little

children starve, or worse? In my opinion, the white eyes bullets are a greater threat to our survival as a

people than this attack on our way of life of which you speak. We all agree that there is no living with

the white eyes. Most of them have no spirits at all and that is why we have always chosen to avoid

them. "
         " They have come to take it all Grandfather and they use every means to do so. Bullets or treaties,

it makes no difference, they mean to destroy us. If we don't deal with it, these children will have to. It is

our duty to our people past and future to do what we can to preserve what we need to go on as a

people. Without our hunting grounds, we are lost. The greed of the white eyes knows no bounds. They

mean to have our lives and then our land. That is their goal. It seems cowardly and unwise to be pushed

farther and farther away from what is rightfully ours. We must fight while we still have the strength or

they will drive us into the sea. "
         The council reverberated with the cheers of the younger men and many of the elders, as well; for

the young brave's fervent eloquence personified their tribal spirit and instilled them all with pride. He

spoke with the voice of a future leader.
         Unable to contain himself any longer, Sun Stalker stood and said, " I would like to speak

Grandfather. "
         Gray Eagle raised the council lance and the din gradually subsided to silence.

         " You may speak, Sun Stalker. "
         Sun Stalker surveyed the gathering with pride. He was tall compared to most of the men in his

tribe, lighter skinned than most and sinewy and lean as a coyote. The gentleness in his voice belied the

reputation he carried into battle. He stood among the bravest when it came to war. His hair was woven

with eagle feathers as medals of valor and victory. Around his neck hung a necklace of bear claws and a

talisman give him by his Uncle, a former shaman of the tribe. His shirt was painted with symbols

representing his travels and stature, some of which only he understood. He did not speak that often and

when he did others tended to listen. " Change is the stuff prophecy is made of, " Sun Stalker began.

" Change is always happening - the sun, the moon, the seasons, the cycles of the Mother. It never stops.

Change is life, my brothers, and pursues us beyond death. What is happening to us, to our people, to

all red men is all part of the plan of Man Above. It is senseless to fight it in this way. Too many have died

already. We must learn to flow with this great tide of change like canoes on a river. Use the current of

change to our advantage, or there will be no braves left to fight, no mothers to bear children. Then we

are surely finished as a people. I have traveled far and wide and, as you know, even went to the white

eyes' school for a while as a boy. I can speak their tongue. I have lived with the black robes and sung the

songs and spoken the spells of the tortured one and I am convinced we must learn to use the white

eyes' weapons against them. "
         " That's just what we have been doing, " Big Belly interrupted. " We brought back many rifles just

two moons ago. "
         " I am not talking about guns, " Sun Stalker said. " I am talking about words. They have done far

more damage to us with their words. We must learn to use their words to our advantage, as our

weapons. Our hope is in outsmarting them, which is exactly what we must do on the battlefield. It is

simply foolish to fight a losing battle against overwhelming odds when the end result is the death of our

people, no matter how badly our pride is damaged. Yes, we must fight and avenge the blood but we

must change our methods of fighting if we are to win. This is the challenge of our generation. Change

demands this and we must grow with this change or perish. Within their words is hidden the secret

white eyes law. Herein lies the power and the future of our people. "
         " But the white eyes words can not be trusted, " Running Fox said.
         " You can't change the stripes of a skunk, " Big Belly grumbled.
         " Does one shoot skunks in his own village? “ Sun Stalker countered.  ” The white eyes have a

system of laws that are written down, " Sun Stalker explained patiently. " All of the white eyes must

obey these laws, under threat of punishment. Once it is written down it becomes law. For example, if a

white eyes sells a horse he is given a piece of paper saying the horse is his and both parties put their

mark on it. Then there is no getting out of it. The white eyes law judges will not allow it. A thief is

thereby brought to justice before the council. The same is done for land and all ownership. Our own

ignorance is what will be our undoing. We must learn to make treaties that are to our advantage. "
         " It would seem to me, " Bending Willow said, " that the laws of liars would be about as useful as

their treaties. Their judges would find a way to cheat us. It is our freedom and our red skin they hate.

They would only find a way to use their laws to trick us again. "
         " Not if we are citizens, members of their tribe. Then we have rights. We are protected from such

trickery. As crazy as the white eyes are, they are very organized and take all this very seriously. They

hold these laws sacred. There are citizens of all colors. The white eyes themselves are from many tribes

and speak many different tongues. They have a system for dealing with tribal differences and injustice.

That is why there are so many of them, because they have united as one people. Just think of the power

that we would have if all red men were one tribe and fought together for the same things. "
         " This is the talk of dreamers, " Big Belly said with a scowl. " There is no such thing as 'all red

men'. We are as different from the Klamaths as a hawk from a snake. We must protect what is ours and

avenge blood already shed. The hair faces understand rifles and bullets and they infest our sacred land

like maggots. They are no match for us and never will be. We must kill them all! "
         The vocal affirmation he had expected from his fellow warriors was neither immediately

forthcoming nor as warm as before. Sun Stalker had their attention.
         " Humph, " Hard Wind, a respected warrior, scoffed, " if they weren't such liars in the first place,

they would not need all these laws and judges. "
          A chunter of agreement rippled through the council.
         " But we know nothing of the white eyes' laws, " Bending Willow said.

" We would be like children, braves who do not know how to use a bow. We have no understanding of

these things. "
         " We can learn these laws, " Sun Stalker said.
         " This is foolish talk, " Big Belly said. " While we are learning these laws,

they will kill us in our blankets. Men do not fight for words. They fight for blood. "
         To this statement the young braves responded loudly, howling their war chants.
          When the din died down, Sun Stalker replied, " From the reaction, it would appear that men are

more than ready to fight for words. “ He paused until he had their attention again. “ The white man

owns all the guns and bullets. We must face the fact that in all out war we are outnumbered and

mismatched. Yes, we can fight to the end and die if we must, but that path leads only to destruction for

our people and must be the last resort. I have had a vision. I will go and learn the white man's laws.

However long it takes. I have seen that this is the only real hope for our people. "
          A respectful silence descended on the tribesmen. To make such a vow before the council and the

whole tribe was not to be taken lightly. It was a promise written in blood. 
          Bending Willow sagely offered Sun Stalker a way out of the brash pledge. "  We will consider

what has been said here and give our dreams a chance to do their part before any decisions are made.

Tomorrow we will continue. "

          Sun Stalker, however, was accustomed to keeping his own council. He had already done his

dreaming and his course was clear to him. He meant what he said. He would learn to beat the white

men at their own game – the magic of written words and the laws they compose.