An Anthropological Approach to a Geometrical Proof

-Quoted by Dai Siwiak

In the Old West there were many tribes of Indians, with many and varied customs. In one particular area of the Old Northwest, the chief of the tribe had three squaws. The first wife and her son were reclining on a deerskin just inside the entrance of the chief's wigwam. The second wife and her son were resting on an elk skin farther inside. The third wife, childless, was sitting on the hide of a hippopotamus right next to the chief.

A famous anthropologist was visiting the area and his Indian guide brought him to meet the chief. The anthropologist was familiar with the customs of many tribes and knew that wives who produced sons were very highly regarded, more so than women who gave birth to daughters or who produced no children at all.

When they were younger the wives vied to be the favorite of the chief. At his coming of age, the son of the first wife entered the forests alone to hunt for deer to feed the tribe. After several days he returned with a massive buck and was hailed a man. Because of the deeds of the son, his mother, the chief's first wife proudly assumed a seat next to the chief.

The second wife also bore a son to the chief. When he came of age, the son born of the second wife traveled farther and wider than any other young brave had done in search of more worthy prey. Weeks passed before his return, but he brought a magnificent elk skin as proof of his successful hunt. The deeds of this son so honored his mother and the chief, that the second wife displaced the first wife and assumed the revered position next to the chief.

The chief's third wife bore him no son. Instead, she herself traveled across the western mountains, through the plains and eastern mountains. She crossed the great ocean and traveled across Europe and then into Africa whereupon she hunted the great animals of the jungles. Her prize was the great river horse of Africa, the hippopotamus, whose skin she brought to her husband. Still she bore no son for the chief. But the third wife assumed the revered position next to her husband, for her deed was bravest of all.

The anthropologist asked his guide why the childless wife in this tribe was treated with so much respect. The guide answered that although she bore him no son, by her deeds it is proved that "The squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides."