What brought about the change in friendship between Matt and Attean in Sign of the Beaver?

When Matt refuses to join the Indians on their journey west, Attean, although disappointed by his friend's decision, respects him because of his keeping of a promise. Just before they were to leave, Matt is given two parting gifts–a tomahawk and a knife–by Attean. The Indian boy tells him that he hopes his gift will make it easier for Matt to kill animals when he has to hunt alone. Attean also gives him an elk-tooth necklace that was made by Saknis as a sign of their friendship and treaty.

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Even though neither Matt nor Attean wanted to together at first, in keeping the terms of the "treaty" set by Saknis, both boys learn to respect each other, and eventually become friends.

Matt is uncomfortable about his daily meetings with Attean in the beginning, and Attean furiously expresses his displeasure at the arrangement, openly showing his contempt and dislike for Matt.  After a time, however, Matt begins to see that many of the beliefs he takes for granted, about the relationship between masters and slaves for example, just might not be true from another perspective.  Attean on his part overcomes his hatred for Matt, and out of genuine concern, teaches him skills he will need to survive on his own.  A turning point occurs for Matt when Attean takes him deep into the woods and shows him the Indian way of marking a trail.  Matt realizes then that, although he may not like Attean, he trusts him; the Indian boy's sense of decency and honor clearly override his feelings and desires.  When Matt and Attean are attacked by a bear, Attean is impressed with Matt's courage and quickness, and his newfound respect for the white boy grows when Matt shows he can hold his own in the rough games played by the Indian boys. 

When Attean invites Matt to come with them when the tribe moves to the West, it is a clear testimony that their friendship has come a long way from its beginnings in mutual distrust.  Matt has developed anappreciation of the world from Attean's disparate perspective, and Attean, who has every reason to hate the white man, has learned to see Matt as an individual he can admire.  Ironically, Attean gains the greatest respect for his friend because of Matt's refusal to join them, to keep a promise he made to his father.

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