Attean's Grandmother "hate(s) all white men" because white men caused the deaths of both Attean's mother and his father. Attean tells Matt that his mother was shot when she went out looking for bark to make baskets. She had not posed a threat to the men, had "done them no harm", yet still they killed her to take her scalp. Even though the Indians were no longer at war with the white men at the time, the governor of Massachusetts had previously offered a bounty for Indian scalps, even the scalps of children.
Enraged, Attean's father had gone on the "war trail" to find the men who killed his wife. He had never returned. Attean's grandmother can never forget what has happened to her family because of the white men. She hates them all, and will not allow Matt to sleep in her wigwam because of this.
Saknis must also have been devastated by what happened to his family, but he is a wise and practical man, and does not let his emotions take over his common sense. He believes that the white man is here to stay, and that the Indians "must learn to live with (them)", for their own survival. It is for this reason that he is so insistent that Attean learn how to read the white man's words, so the Indians can better protect themselves. Saknis also has a deep sense of compassion and the ability to see people as individuals. Matt realizes that, in spite of what he had experienced in his life, as well as the opposition of his own wife, Saknis himself had invited him to the Indian camp and made him feel welcome (Chapter 17).