When Matt visits the Indian village for the second time, the women are busy preparing food. Although he knows that Attean is "scornful of...squaw work", Matt is curious, because, unlike his Indian friend, he has no one but himself to rely on to prepare his meals, and anything he can learn about the process will only benefit him. The supplies his father had left him have long since run out, and Matt does not know how much longer he will be forced to survive on his own. He is anxious to learn ways of replenishing his stores and adding variety to his diet.
Matt "observes carefully" as two women make corn flour, "pound(ing) dried kernels of corn between two rounded stones, catching the coarse flour on a strip of birchbark". He marks how they preserve fruit, "spread(ing) berries on bark, so that the sun dried them hard as pebbles". Matt admires the baskets the women use to store, cook, and carry their food, baskets which are made "of a single strip of birchbark bent and fastened at the corners so tightly that water could be boiled inside". He is careful to notice and remember how these simple but useful baskets are made so that he can repeat the process himself at his cabin (Chapter 19).