WASHINGTON AND THE CHEROKEES
My Children of the Cherokee Nation! attend! In a former interview soon after your arrival, esteeming you the representation of your whole nation, I received you with open arms and an hearty welcome. I then referred you to communicate freely all you had to say to General Knox the Secretary of War, and I am glad to learn that you have fully disclosed all the things which you had in your hearts to say; and he has reported the same to me.
I am highly satisfied with the confidence you repose in me, and in the United States as your friends and protectors.
We shall indeed rejoice in being the instruments of the Great Master of Breath, to impart to you and your whole Nation, all the happiness of which your situation will admit. To teach you to cultivate the earth and to raise your own bread as we do ours-to raise cattle-to teach your children such arts as shall be useful to them, and to lead you by degrees from one information to another, in order not only to better your situation on this earth, but by enabling your minds to form a more perfect judgment of the great works of nature, to lead you to a more exalted view of the Great Father of the Universe.
Rest therefore upon the United States, as your great security against all injury.
But, in order to receive the good designed for you, it will be your duty upon all occasions to be peaceable-to be kind to the whites-and above all, not to indulge resentment upon any supposed injury, but rather apply to the United States or their Agent for redress.
My Children- You have mentioned something about your past grievances. We too have had causes of complaint on our parts, but we are desirous of burying deep under ground all past evils.
We will now consider the treaty made at Holstein, near the mouth of French Broad, on the second day of July last, as the bond of our union.- Adhere to that treaty on your part, as we shall do on ours.
You have asked whether we have authorized Governor Blount to make that treaty, he being a Carolinian? In answer to your question we tell you now that Governor Blount is the Agent of the United States, and that he will always speak truly to you, and you must depend upon what he shall say to you on our behalf. Respect him therefore and love him for my sake, and I will answer that he shall conduct himself as your friend.
When he shall send to you that he is ready to run the lines according to the treaty, attend to what he shall say and repair to him immediately.
It is very important to you as well as the whites that the boundary should be known so that no bad people trespass in future on your grounds.
My Children- Attend to me now, for I shall reply directly to the objects which you have communicated as the cause of your journey.
You ask, firstly, that you should have a greater sum each year for your lands than was stipulated in the treaty of Holstein.
Governor Blount told you truly that he could not give more than one thousand dollars yearly for the lands you relinquished; because he was limited to that sum.
But my Children, as you have requested five hundred dollars more, and as the United States and myself are desirous of affording you every proof of our friendship, we comply with your request; and you shall accordingly, receive suitable goods to the amount of one thousand five hundred dollars, yearly.
You ask, secondly, that you should take with you goods to the amount of one year's allowance. This request is also granted, and you shall have the goods accordingly.
You ask, thirdly, that the white people who have settled to the southward of the new line which divides the waters of the Tennessee from those running into Little River, should be removed.
I answer that the people shall be removed as soon as the line is run.
You ask, fourthly, that a person shall be sent to reside in your nation who shall be your Counsellor and protector, in behalf of the United States.
I shall also comply with your request in this instance, and I have accordingly appointed this Gentleman, Leonard Shaw (presenting him at the same time,) to return with you and reside in the Nation. He is a man of knowledge, and is desirous of being serviceable to you in teaching you and your children useful arts. Is he acceptable to you? and will you protect and comfort him and follow his advice?
You have asked, fifthly [sic], that we shall make no settlements at the Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee.
Be assured my Children, we shall not make any settlements at that place, which we understand to be the hunting grounds of several of the southern Nations, without their consent. It is however proper that you should agree among yourselves about your own boundaries, so that there be no dispute in future on that account.
It is proper also that you should understand that the United States have stipulated by treaty with the Chickasaws, to establish a post at the Occochappo or Bear's Creek below the Muscle Shoals. This ground the Chickasaws stated as solely belonging to them. They asserted this at the treaty of Hopewell, when a considerable part of your Nation was present, and it was not denied on your part.
And lastly it is proper that you should know, that the object of the United States, is not to make a settlement there for the purpose of hunting or clearing your lands, but to prevent bad white people from doing it, and that you may obtain goods cheaply under the protection of the United States. It is the General Government who will be present there and not a disorderly set of people. But notwithstanding that these are the objects of the United States, yet a trading post will not be established there if it be disagreeable to the red people. Consult therefore among yourselves and with your neighbours [sic], and let me know your wishes on this subject.
You have asked, sixthly, for two Interpreters, who shall be sworn to communicate all things faithfully which shall pass between the United States and your Nation; and you have pointed out James Carey, who is present, as a proper person for one Interpreter, and after your return you will let Governor Blount know whom your Nation will choose for the other.
In conformity therefore to your request, I appoint James Carey one Interpreter and leave it to the Nation to nominate the other.
I have ordered that you should be well clothed yourselves; and that you should also carry home some clothing for your families besides other personal presents of Medals and Rifles, which you have received.
I have besides ordered personal presents of a similar nature to be provided and sent by Mr. Shaw to be delivered in the name of the United States to the Little Turkey, the Badger, the Dragging Canoe, John Watts, Katakiskee, the Hanging Maw, the Breath, the Boots, the Black Fox, the Thigh, the Glass, and Dick of the Look Out Mountain who I learn are the principal chiefs of your Nation.
You will understand that all these presents are in addition to the annual allowance to your Nation, which allowance is the public property, and to be distributed in the most fair manner upon your arrival at home in the presence of the Little Turkey and your other great Chiefs. And I am sorry you have been detained here so long, but the Great Spirit above having covered the waters with ice and the ground with snow our vessels nor waggons [sic] could not pass, nor could your goods be transported, this you have seen and will be able to declare to your people.
You have mentioned one Bowles, who has caused disturbances among the Creeks- my Children, believe what I say to you concerning that man-he is an impostor and a deceiver and means no good either to the white or red people and therefore ought not to be suffered to reside among the Indians.
My Children- You may be told when you get back to your Nation, if you have not heard it already, that a battle has been fought between the white people, and the hostile Indians living at the Miama Towns and on the Wabash north west of the Ohio, and such others as they could draw to their aid; and that our people were beaten with considerable loss; and you may be told too by some of these Indians, who probably may visit your nation, that this dispute has arisen from attempts of ours to take away their lands.
That a battle has been fought; that we have lost many men and were obliged to retreat at that time is true. But that the dispute is about land is false. We neither claim nor do we want to possess any land beyond the boundary, which has been established between us and those Nations of Indians whose right it was to fix it, and who did it by three different treaties. All we have asked and all we require is that our frontier people may live undisturbed in their persons and properties; and these dispositions have been communicated to them in various messages and by every means in our power, before we marched any forces against them, and even after they had at different times between the close of the war with Great Britain and the march of the troops under General Harmen killed wounded and carried into captivity, one thousand five hundred of our people and more than two thousand of our Horses.
This my Children is the truth, you have it from my own mouth; and I will not deceive you. But hearken further to my words- though we were unsuccessful in the last battle from causes which are not necessary to mention, yet if these unfriendly Indians do not now come forward and make peace with this country on the terms of equity and justice, the force that will be sent against them in future will be able to cut them off from the face of the earth.
Losing an hundred a thousand or even ten thousand men would not be missed in this country. But such a loss would destroy the whole of these Indian Nations which are at war with us.
Look through the streets of Philadelphia, and behold the number of people! and what are these when compared with the whole number in the United States? Why not more than one leaf is to the whole number of those which grow on a tree. Had you travelled to this place by land, instead of coming by water, you would have been an eye witness of the truth of this observation, and even then you would not have seen half the extent of the United States which are now joined together and will act as one man, and all must resent what is done to a part. I mention these matters to you my Children and friends, that all bad Indians may be acquainted with it and know what must be the consequence of waging an unjust war against the United States, or injuring the property of any of its citizens.
My Children- There are several other matters, which General Knox the Secretary of War will speak about to you in my behalf and which you must attend to.
But I shall subscribe my name to this talk which shall be written in your book, in order to be preserved among you as a witness of our transactions together, and to which you may have recourse in future.
This book you will sacredly preserve and not suffer any thing to be written therein, but in the presence of the United States or their Agent who is Governor Blount, and under him Mr. Shaw.
In this book the treaty between the United States and the Cherokees will be written together with your speeches here, and this answer thereto.
Besides this manner of recording our proceedings, I confirm all I have to you in your own method, by a White Belt as the emblem of the purity of our hearts towards you.
I shall also in answer to the Messages and Belts brought by you, send particular Messages and Belts by Mr. Shaw to the Creeks, the Choctaws and the Chickasaws- I consider their interest and the interest of the United States as the same, and shall accordingly treat them as our firm friends and children.
Given under my hand at the city of Philadelphia this third of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety two.