Given the family's indebtedness as a result of the fine and other costs of living in Pagosa, George Black Bull begins working at the local sawmill, where the white men who run the operation consistently take advantage of the local Native American population. The sawmill's low wages make it nearly impossible to pay back the accrued debts, and the sawmill also serves as the primary place of employment in Pagosa for this population, leaving few other options. This pattern speaks not only to George's growing frustrations and his desire to return to the wilderness of his youth but also to the historical reality of the treatment of Native Americans in the first part of the twentieth century.