The story is told that on that occasion the white man spread many one-dollar bills on the ground and said, “this is what the white man trades with; this is his buffalo robe. Just as you trade skins, we trade with these pieces of paper.”
When the white chief had laid all his money on the ground and had shown how much he would give if the Indians would sign a treaty, Crowfoot took a handful of clay, made a ball out of it and put it on the fire and cooked it. It did not crack.
Then he said to the white man, “Now put your money on the fire and see if it will last as long as the clay.”
The white man said, “No….my money will burn because it is made of paper”.
With an amused gleam in his eyes the old chief said, “Oh your money is not as good as our land, is it? The wind will blow it away; the fire will burn it; water will rot it. Nothing will destroy our land. You don’t make a very good trade.”
Then with a smile, Crowfoot picked up a handful of sand from the river bank, handed it to the white man and said, “You count the grains of sand in that while I count the money you give for the land”.
The white man said, “I would not live long enough to count this, but you can count the money in a few minutes”. “Very well”, said the wise Crowfoot, “our land is more valuable then your money. It will last forever.
It will not perish as long as the sun shines and the water flows, and through all the years it will give life to men and animals, and therefore we cannot sell the land.
It was put there by the Great Spirit and we cannot sell it because it does not really belong to us.
You can count your money and burn it with a nod of a buffalo’s head, but only the Great Spirit can count the grains of sand and the blades of grass on these plains.
As a present we will give you anything you can take with you, but we cannot give you the land.”