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white river poems 347
...Twenty acres of land are partly cleared.
Some thirty Indians have been at work,
but the average of steady workers is nearer twelve.
These are induced to work by their chief, Douglas,
and are as subject to him as they would be
if they were slaves. The remedy for this
is to provide each Indian with the land
wherewith to have his own home, and get clear
of the chief's domination; then this species
of feudalism will be broken up.
He portrays Johnson, one of the sub-chiefs, at harvest time:
When Johnson dug potatoes, he retained
fi fteen or twenty women to do the work,
paying them half a bushel a day. He watched,
and helped to sack; and smoked, and now and then
got tired and slept, face down, upon the ground;
and then was up and busy again.
He wore
a bottle-green fl annel shirt, and buckskin leggings,
and a blanket strapped around his waist, to form
a sort of kilt. His plug hat hung on the fence,
for he had work to do. His face was painted --
a streak of crimson blazed on his forehead, a band
of yellow starting at his left eyebrow
slanted across his eye and over his nose
to the right corner of his mouth. Each cheek
Johnson had marked with three short brilliant strips
of red, yellow, and blue.
Johnson, you see,
is one of those men who lead from the savage life
to the barbaric, on the way
to civilization. He is not as far advanced
as Cedric, the Saxon, master of Garth,
in Scott's Ivanhoe, but he is probably