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white river poems 343
was even-handed, though, when
the guilt of those who killed us
immediately was spread
to cover all the Utes.
I will tell you a story.
Johnny Tab-biscuit, a Ute,
was shot on a mountain trail
by a white he'd quarreled with.
Now, Johnny Tab-biscuit's friends
that same day shot a rancher
they happened to come upon
chopping wood in his door-yard.
They'd never seen him before.
After the uproar died down
Byers one day questioned these friends,
privately, and they told him,
"One Ute killed, one white man killed,
all right, pretty good." Byers
told me, "I tried to show them
the injustice of their view.
They never would admit it.
When I'd gone over the ground
a dozen times, they persisted
in thinking their custom just."
Byers never raised objection,
I think, to the white custom
according to which the Utes
were expelled from their country.'
-- `What about Fisk's policy,
that each white community
ought to take care of its own
Indians?' He hesitates,
and grins, `If I answer that
I shall soon be defending
myself. And yet the answer
is ordinary enough: