The woman extended her hand. “I’m Christine Carter from the U of L. Dr. Amundsen is right. That meteorite has considerable scientific value. Are you sure you can’t help?”
“Like I said, the rock belongs tuh the Blackfoot. If you want tuh deal with them try Hassun Parker. He’s the one with white hair.”
She set off around the side of the hill. As I contemplated her retreating hindquarters, I found myself wishing I could have found some way to accommodate her. In the distance, I could see Hassun grinning at me.
Mostly, the whites outside the fence spoke only among themselves, but there was the occasional shouted comment to the Blackfoot. Some shouts took on racist overtones. The only reply was louder drumming and singing.
I was relieved when, in the midafternoon, an RCMP cruiser pulled up. Two Mounties stepped out. I identified myself and together we discussed how to proceed. For now, the officers would limit their involvement to making themselves visible. If anyone made a comment likely to incite violence, I would invoke my right as leaseholder to have that person evicted.
Red Beard was the first to oblige. He confronted Hassun across the fence. “Look, you idiot. I’m offering you lazy bastards free money for a rock. Wake up!”
Hassun stood in silence, his arms folded. Behind him, five rifles pointed into the ground. The riflemen, young and grim-faced, snicked off their safeties. Flanked by the two officers, I tapped Red Beard’s shoulder. “I already told you tuh get off my lease.”
He spun around to find himself facing the younger of the two officers, a black man who stood six-six, built like a linebacker. “Sir, I’m going to escort you to your vehicle. You are leaving this lease.”
Red Beard’s face became redder than his beard, but he complied. Word spread. There were no further incidents for the rest of the day.
Toward evening, three of the whites started to put up tents. The Mounties stopped them. As darkness approached, the crowd began to trickle away. Not one Blackfoot left the hill. The Mounties were replaced by two more officers.
Jon Amundsen approached me at nightfall. “How long do you think the Indians will stick it out, Sam?”
I snorted. “Do they look tuh you as though they’re leavin’?”
“I just thought I should warn you. I’m going to check with a lawyer to see if the meteorite can be declared property of the province.”
“Do what you gotta do, Jon.”
He strode to his van and drove away.