He tries to warn the Sioux that the white men would come and invade their land who then decide to move to a safer area; that of the winter camp. The act of leaving his journal behind becomes a cause of immense concern as it can be the very thing that might lead the invaders to the winter camp. (Conner 2003)
The ashes represent a link between the past and the future for Victor; by burying them he would eventually have to face up to certain unknown facts. The same way the journal represents and end for the idyllic way of life that John Dunbar was leading. This journal creates a connection between his former life as a white man and present as a Naïve American.
When the Journal becomes a cause for concern as it could lead the Union Officers to the winter camp of the Sioux tribe, he realizes that he has to retrieve it. The process of retrieval itself becomes the end for the idyllic life pattern as John is faced with the ultimate conflict; to choose between the present life and the former.