July 2, 1928
Chief Marlo, an old Indian in the Arctic: "My rich country. Caribou, musk-ox, fish, much food. Before, Indians all over. Great hunters. White man come, Indians die, all-a time die."
The Land of Feast and Famine - Red Neighbors
Chief Marlo has not cut his hair like the others, for he is a member of the old school. Black and straight, it falls down over his shoulders. How old he is, not even he himself knows. " When I little, big battle, Dead Men's Island," he says. Now he is too feeble to join in the hunt. He remains indoors most of the time, smoking his pipe and giving advice. In a face of wrinkled parchment shine a pair of fun-loving eyes, and it may well be, as it is said, that he can still draw as fine a bead on a fleeing caribou as anyone.
Each evening when the sun is setting over Great Slave Lake, Mario emerges from his tent and totters down to the beach. There he sits for a long time. On one occasion I sit down beside him. Not a word has passed between us when he nods toward the sun, just as it is slowly slipping down into the water in an orgy of red, and " Who you think make sun? " he asks.
" Who do you think? " I parry.
"Jesus — mebbe so," he says hesitantly. Just how sincerely he believes this to be true is pretty hard to know, for he immediately begins talking about how the sun, from the very first, has been the all-powerful god of the Indians. He flings out his arms to it and says: " First all water, then sun."
But when Marlo begins to talk about his people, he is bitter and terse: "My rich country. Caribou, musk-ox, fish, much food. Before, Indians all over. Great hunters. White man come, Indians die, all-a time die." He points off toward the north where the woods melt like a bluish mist into the distance behind which lie the Barren Lands, and then he quietly adds: "When caribou come from Land without Trees, Indians choose new chief."
I object by saying that he certainly has a number of years left to live. But Marlo shakes his head conclusively, as though he is positive of his statement. "When caribou come," he repeats, knocks the ashes from his pipe, and totters back up to his tepee.