The message of the Indian for us is sixfold:
He was the great prophet of outdoor life. He was strong when he lived in the sun; and when, under pressure, he took to a house, he was like Samson shorn of his hair. By the physical perfection of his body, he showed the truth of his way. He was a living protest against house-life. He, above all others, can show us how to get the joys, and escape the dangers, of life in the open air.
He was a master of woodcraft - woodcraft, the oldest of all the sciences; the one, that, above all, makes for manhood. Strength, speed, skill, courage, knowledge, of the woods and its creatures, star-wisdom, water-wisdom, plant lore, and everything that makes for the well-built man in masterful touch with a large environment of blue air, is part of woodcraft. And in this above all other men, the Indian can be our guide.
He taught the sacred duty of reverencing, beautifying and perfecting the body.
He sought for the beautiful in everything. He teaches us that, if we have the spirit of beauty within, we may beautify everything in every office and walk of our lives. Every weapon, tool, utensil, garment and house; yes, every gesture - he has taught us how to make beautiful. His songs, stories, dances, ceremonies, his system of etiquette and courtesy, were expressions in his daily life that proved his mind; and in the making of beautiful tents, blankets, baskets and canoes, he has easily led the world. These things were mere expressions of his broad creed that the Great Spirit is in everything, everywhere, all the time.
He solved one great economic problem that vexes us to-day. By his life and tribal constitution, he has shown us that the nationalization of all natural resources and national interests puts a stop at once equally to abject poverty and to monstrous wealth.
He was the world's great historic protest against avarice. Under various euphonious names we encourage greed as a safeguard against destitution. He showed that it has no bearing on the case and that it unavoidably ends in measureless crime:
That seems to be the sixfold message of the Indian; but there is also a thought that will not down, as one reads these chronicles of a trampled race.
The law of this land gives every one the right to think and decide for himself, so long as he does not infringe on the rights of others. No man may compel the conscience of another, except that other be a soldier or a marine. When a man joins army or navy, he must leave his conscience behind. That is the law. Why? Because those in the high place of authority know so well that the soldier or sailor, going to the front and seeing with his own eyes the abominations and human tortures that warfare really means, would be so horror-stricken that he would recoil as from a very hell. He would refuse to be a party to such unspeakable atrocities, and so army and navy, yes, the whole system back of it, would crumble.
No, sir, discipline must be maintained. The soldier and sailor must leave his conscience at home and do as he is told, Stirling the voice within that tells him he is espousing the cause of Jezebel, Herod and Moloch, and pledging his manhood to the service of hell.
When General Crook set off in deep winter to hound the Dakota patriots to their death, and to slaughter their women and babies, he admitted, as we have seen, that it was a hard campaign to go on. "But," he added, "the hardest thing is to go and fight those whom we know are right".