Every Indian village in the old days had its granaries of corn, its stores of dried beans, berries, and pumpkin-strips, as well as its dried buffalo tongues, pemmican and deer's meat. To this day all the Fisher Indians of the north and west dry great quantities of fish, as well as berries, for the famine months that are surely coming.
Many of the modern Indians, armed with rifles, have learned to emulate the white man, and slaughter game for the love of slaughter, without reference to the future. Such waste was condemned by the old-time Indians, as an abuse of the gifts of God, and which would surely bring its punishment.
When, in 1684, De la Barre, Governor of Canada, complained that the Iroquois were encroaching on the country of those Indians who were allies of the French, he got a stinging reply from Garangula, the Onondaga Chief, and a general statement showing that the aborigines had game-laws, not written, indeed, but well known, and enforced at the spear-point, if need be: "We knock the Twightwies [Miamis] and Chictaghicks [Illinois] on the head, because they had cut down the trees of peace, which were the limits of our country. They have hunted beaver on our lands. They have acted contrary to the customs of all Indians, for they left none of the beavers alive, they killed both male and female." (Sam G. Drake's "Indian Biog." 1832, p. 111).
Hunter says of the Kansas Indians:
"I have never known a solitary instance of their wantonly destroying any of those animals [buffalo, elk, and deer], except on the hunting-grounds of their enemies, or encouraged to it by the prospect of bartering their skins with the traders." (Hunter's "Captivity," 1798-1816, p. 279).
"After all, the Wild Indians could not be justly termed improvident, when the manner of life is taken into consideration. They let nothing go to waste, and labored incessantly during the summer and fall, to lay up provisions for the inclement season. Berries of all kinds were industriously gathered and dried in the sun. Even the wild cherries were pounded up, stones and all, made into small cakes, and dried, for use in soups, and for mixing with the pounded jerked meat and fat to form a much-prized Indian delicacy." ("Indian Boyhood," Eastman; pp. 237-8).
Their wise men were not blind to the dangers of greed, as we know, from many sources, and, in particular, their attitude toward money-getting is full of interest:
"The Indians, except those who live adjoining to the European colonies, can form to themselves no idea of the value of money; they consider it, when they are made acquainted with the uses to which it is applied by other nations, as the source of innumerable evils. To it they attribute all the mischiefs that are prevalent among Europeans, such as treachery, plundering, devastations and murder." (Carver's "Travels," p. 158).
Could we have a more exact paraphrase of "The love of money is the root of all evil?"
Beware of greed which grows into crime and makes men forget the poor. A man's life should not be for himself, but for his people. For them he must be ready to die.
This is the sum of Indian economic teaching. (See Eastman "Soul of Indian," pp. 94 and 99-103).