What is the difference between the signs Matt's father and Attean make to show their way in the woods in Sign of the Beaver?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Attean's method, the Indian way of making signs to show their way in the woods, is much more subtle than the method Matt's father uses.  Matt recalls that when his father wanted to mark his path through the woods, he would cut blazes on the trees with his knife.  Attean, calling this the "white man's way", says that the Indian way is not as obvious.  He says that the "Indian maybe not want to show where he go", so the signs he uses are "secret signs".

Attean's method of marking a trail through the woods consists of leaving signs which would be recognized only by individuals who know exactly what they are looking for.  As he walks, he pauses every so often, "sometimes to break off a branch that (hangs) in (the) path, once to nudge aside a stone with the toe of his moccasin".  Anyone following would not notice the marks Attean has left; "it would take sharp eyes to find them, even if you knew they were there".  It takes quite awhile and a good deal of practice for Matt to master this way of assuring that he does not get lost in the thick woods surrounding his cabin, but when he finally is able to do it, he is grateful to Attean for revealing to him "another secret of the forest (Chapter 11).

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