Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/26

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CHAPTER THREE - THE INDIANS IN THE WEST.
THE MEXICAN CAMPAIGN

It is common knowledge how the merciless progress of civilization pushed back the Indians -- first occupants of the country -- to the far-off extremities of America

The land which their laziness left uncultivated and which, for them, was but a space appropriate for hunting, revealed its richness to the settlers coming from Europe. Established at first on the Atlantic Coast, then along the rivers, the pioneers advanced into the heart of the country as their numbers increased. Wherever the white men penetrated, wherever their axe opened the primal forests, wide clearings were soon cultivated, and the weak, yet ferocious tribes of Redskins, divided and incapable of uniting, even for their own defense, were fatally condemned to disappear. How much blood has been shed in those obscure fights, no one knows. Both sides fought for their lives, and it seems that the Indian, slain in front of his ancestors′ graves, and the European, scalped on the threshold of the house he was building for his children, deserve the same compassion.

The successive victories that the settlers owed principally to their superior armament secured possession of the land, and the savages were finally relegated to the lost wilderness of the far west. The remnants of their various tribes, joined together in a common misfortune, became a sort of miserable population, hostile to work, and reduced for