Saknis was a wise man who knew that the coming of the white man meant the end of the Beaver clan's life as it had been. More and more settlers would wipe out the game needed for the village's survival. If Attean could read, when the white man made a treaty with the Beaver clan, he could understand the words and avoid signing a document that would harm his people in the long run. The native American way of life was so altered by the coming of the white settlers that adapting by learning the ways of the whites was the only way to continue their culture.
Saknis wanted Attean to learn to read so he could tell them if white men were trying to trick them to giving up their land with a supposedly "peace treaty".