From the Connecticut Journal
THE CHEROKEE INDIANS.
A Milledgeville, Geo. paper, the Southron, of the 10th ult. has an article alluding to the bill which has been reported to the House of Representatives of Georgia, providing for the extension of the jurisdiction of the laws of the state to the territory occupied by the Cherokees. 'They are not citizens of the state,' says the editor; 'they are not the owners of the land they occupy. They cannot be subjected to the tax law, to the militia law, or to all the civil laws in force in Georgia.' After instituting the inquiry, how and in what manner the Cherokees can be subjected even to the poll-tax, by extending to them the jurisdiction of the state laws, the editor comes to the point that these Indians are tenets at will; that the federal government can never induce them to relinquish their present possessions, and that the immediate use of coercive measures alone can possibly prevent the total extinction of the Cherokees, who are pressed on all sides by a constantly increasing white population. 'We have,' says the writer, 'a large black population, who consider the Indians very little better than themselves in point of independence to the whites;' and as the Indians associate with the black more freely than with the whites* the discontent and envy of the former (the slaves) will be greatly increased. The summing up of the whole chapter on the Cherokees, is this: They must be driven from the soil for which they have an inherent attachment, and driven at the point of sword and bayonet; for they have no right no title to their present homes. This is a very summary improvement. The plan is one that might easily be carried into execution by a few divisions of Georgia militia.
The Cherokees perhaps have doubtless assimilated nearer to the manners and customs of their more favored neighbors than any tribes, who have come in contact with civilization.- The very circumstance of their refusal to migrate hence, while the removal can be effected of tribes less enlightened, is altogether in their favor. If they have a claim to the lands they hold; if they prefer lands which they have cultivated in some degree, to wild forest lands; and if, in time, they do not choose to remove, they will do well to retain their possessions, and make the most of them. But when the Indians of the south are coerced those of the north must be coerced in like manner; and the same act which forces the Cherokees of Georgia from their present grounds must drive Red Jacket and the Indians of New York, the Six Nations, beyond Lake-Pepin. Why do not the neighboring farmers and editors of New-York, press the unqualified annihilation of their Indians? Is it because they have no slaves? Or is it because they have less courage, that they are less solicitous to draw the sabre upon Red Jacket, then the editor of the Southron to coerce the Indians of his state? It is quite idle, at this time, to talk of coercion.- The plan of extending to the unfortunate aborigines an opportunity to do well, as far as they may be well disposed, would seem to be the part of wisdom, of mercy, and of justice.
We have the remnant of an Indian tribe in an eastern section of our own state. They have the benefit of fertile and beautiful lands upon the Thames. The
Mohegens, for the most part, have but poorly improved the property and privileges, of which they have been left in the undisturbed possession; but their annihilation has, at no time within our recollection, been seriously proposed. It is true that the most benevolent amongst us cannot confidently hope to see the unstaid, the wandering and beggerly [sic] sons of Uncas, gathered within the pale of regular society. To abandoned depravity, there are, however, exceptions among them. Many of the Indians of the Six Nations are no better than the worst of ours, but it is doubtful whether the exceptions are not there upon the other score. They have churches, where they assemble for Christian worship; and although philanthropic eyes may be often pained at the sight of the vices of many of them, yet we have never heard it urged by the citizens of New -York, as a matter of philanthropy, to massacre them, and thus divest the soil of incumbrance, as palpable as the forest, which first stood upon the slopes and valleys where the white spires of their churches now point to heaven.
The public has supposed that the lands of the Cherokees, as well as their soil, were susceptible of a degree of cultivation, which should elevate them above all the now mutilated Indian clans of the United States. The difficulty in the way of taxing them, is believed to be imaginary.- Let them be taxed, according to their abilities, and in proportion to the benefit they derive from the protecting laws of the state; and if individuals will not pay their taxes respectively, tax the whole nation of Cherokees, or such parts of them as are obnoxious to the editor of the Southron, or are a bad example to his slaves. There will be sufficient time to make use of violent measures when they offend against the laws. No one will wish the Indians to enjoy privileges, in this respect, which are proscribed to the whites. Let them be instructed, or instruct themselves, in the military act, that they may defend themselves and us, if necessary. If they claim to be represented, let them send a delegate to the National Legislature, as soon as their degree of civilization shall entitle them to such a privilege. This would be more honorable to the country, than to extirpate them vi et amnis, which might possibly be done in an attempt mere to the drive them from the states. If, with all these inducements to improve, and to regenerate from Indians to men, they should finally become extinct, then their blood will not be upon our heads, or the head of the editor of the Southron.
* This cannot be true from the fact that, there are five mulattoes in the State of Georgia where there is one in this Nation, even supposing the slave population in each to be equal. Though the Cherokees have reasons to regret and deeply deplore that, through the example of the surrounding States, the practice of keeping in bondage a part of their fellow beings, has become general among them, they nevertheless can classes, themselves with the thought that, they have not been guilty of the crime of commingling with their slaves.
Ed. Cher. Phoe.