But the Indian just had to turn his back and ride a few miles to be in clear country which the caravans never touched, the bison herds ran free, and game abounded. There was still plenty for everyone.
It was different after ’49. A hundred thousand folk need a power of meat and wood and fodder; they must forage wide on either side of the trail, in what to them is virgin country, and wreak havoc among the buffalo and smaller game; they must strip the grazing to its roots–and it ain’t in human nature for them to think, in all that vastness, what it may mean for those few figures sitting on the ridge over yonder…but if you are those figures, Crow or Arapaho or Cheyenne, watching the torrent that was once a trickle, seeing it despoil the Plains on which you depend for life, and guess that it’s going to get bigger by the year, and that what was once a novelty is now a menace–what d’you do? Precisely what the squire in his Leicestershire acres, or his New England meadow, would do if crowds of noisy, selfish foreigners began to trek through ruining the place.
Remonstrate–and when that don’t work, because the intruders can’t see what damage they’re doing, and don’t care anyway–what d’you do then?
I’ll tell you; Leicestershire squire, New England farmer, Cheyenne Dog-Soldier or Kiowa Hose-Cap, you see that there’s only one thing for it: you put your paint on.