Some of the stories contained in this collection have their origins in oral folklore, ancient myths and legends of the various nations who first populated North America. There is a long list of people who have heard and collected and recorded these stories, all the way from Lewis and Clark, to David Thompson to Ella Elizabeth Clark, and many in between whose diligent and dedicated work has served to preserve small snippets and smatterings of the remarkable richness these complex and sophisticated cultures offered up. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who had the foresight and took the time to pluck these stories from the realm of oral traditions so that they would not be lost to future generations who might not otherwise have the means to hear the fundamental wisdom embedded in them. These stories are presented to pay homage to the ancient ones whose understanding of the world around them often far exceeded that of our sophisticated modern day civilizations. With deep respect to the tribes and nations whose ancestors these ancient ones were, I have tried to present them in a language universally understood in today’s world while staying true to the meaning behind the stories, to the best of my own understanding.
The Home of Real Adventure Tales
Corrida de toros? Yes, Corrida de toros! For how long now had there been no bullfights in Buenos Aires; when was the last time the Porteños had heard the whinnying of horses, the bawling of bulls, the shouting of the fighters and the cheering of the spectators! It was a long row of years ago since the last bullfights had taken place. And the pitiable political circumstances of the country had been to blame. The war into which Lopez, the Dictator of Paraguay, had dragged the Argentinian Confederation, had so far cost the latter forty million dollars and fifty thousand lives, not counting the twice one hundred thousand human lives lost to the cholera that had followed in the wake of the war. It had been impossible to think of entertainment at that time. The Argentinian army always found itself at a disadvantage against Lopez; but it had achieved significant success last week, which had been celebrated in Buenos Aires with decorative lighting and festive parades. To ingratiate himself with the population, newly elected President Sarmiento had taken advantage of the opportunity to grant permission for bullfights.
“You don’t believe it? Well, then just think of the current example! The Sendador is guiding a large company of white people over the Paraná. These people want to go to Río Salado, which belongs to us. They want to live on our territory to look for the same yerba and fell the forests that belong to us and without which we can’t live. Isn’t that an attack? Did they ask us for our permission? Will they pay us for what they take, the river, the forests, the yerba, the trees? No! And if we resist being robbed, they reach for their weapons and use force. How many of us have died in this way? They don’t talk about that. And when they do talk about it, they do so boastfully. Am I right, Señor?” I hesitated to reply, for I couldn’t say that he was wrong. Then he continued: “If you talk about robbery and murder, then complain to the Whites, not to us. They are the attackers, whereas we are merely defending ourselves.” “But does one defend oneself by kidnapping women and girls?” “Yes, if there’s no other way to do so.” “You have other means – your weapons.” “You can say that because you’re a stranger in the land. Whites have rifles, powder and cartridges. We, on the other hand, possess spears and arrows by means of which we can do nothing against them. Must we not also strive to obtain rifles?”
I have received your last letter and fully agree with your proposals. The deal is risky but should it succeed it would bring so much profit that we can risk an eventual loss.
The powder is coming on the Seagull. We have mixed thirty percent charcoal into it. I hope you will succeed in smuggling it into the country and thus save customs duties. In this way we’ll make a very advantageous deal.
I hereby empower you to draw up the contract and to send it to Lopez Jordan for signature. The last is a very dangerous affair for, should the Nationals discover the messenger and find the contracts on him, then it’s all over with him. Fortunately, I am able quite coincidentally to indicate to you a man who is very well suited for this mission.
The bearer of this letter has associated with Indians for a number of years. He is a foolhardy fellow, but at the same time completely stupid and yet dependable – one would hardly expect otherwise from a Dutchman. As I understand, he wishes to go to Santiago and Tucumán and will thus be passing through the Province of Entre-Rios. Pretend you’re giving him a letter of recommendation, but containing the two contracts, to Jordan. Should he be found and be shot, then the world would lose a dunderhead whose loss is no great shame. Of course the documents mustn’t bear your signature. You will only sign when you get them back from Jordan’s messenger.
For the rest, the Dutchman won’t be much trouble to you. He is of a foolish undemanding nature. A glass of sour wine and a few kind words are enough to make him happy.