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Cherokee Phoenix and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, June 17, 1829
Vol. II, no. 11
Page 1, col. 1-4

 

INDIANS.

MEMORIAL

of John Ross, Richard Taylor, Ddward Gunter, & William S. Coody,  Representatives of the Cherokee Nation of Indians.
 To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled:
 We, the undersigned, Representatives of the Cherokee Nation, beg leave to present before your honorable bodies a subject of the deepest interest to our nation, as involving the most sacred rights and privileges of the Cherokee People.  The Legislature of Georgia, during its latest session, passed an act to add a large portion of our territory to that State, and to extend her (?) same, declaring "all laws and usages, made and enforced in said Territory by the Indians, to be null and void after the first of June, 1830.  No Indian, or descendent of an Indian, to be a competent witness, or a party to any suit to which a white man is party."  This act involves a question of great magnitude and of serious import, and which calls for the deliberation and decision of Congress.  It is a question upon which the salvation and happiness or the misery and destruction of a nation depends, therefore it should not be trifled with.  The anxious solicitude of Georgia to obtain our lands through the United States by treaty was known to us, and after having accommodated her desires (with that of other States bordering on our territory) by repeated cession of lands, until no more can be reasonable spared, it was not conceived, much less believed, that a State, proud of Liberty, and tenacious of the rights of man, would condescend to have placed herself before the world in the imposing attitude of a usurper of most sacred rights and privileges of a weak, defenseless, and innocent nation of people, who are in perfect peace with the United States, and to whom the faith of the United Sates is solemnly pledged to protect and defend them against the encroachments of their citizens.

 In acknowledgment for the protection of the United States and the consideration of guaranteeing to our nation forever the security of our lands &c., the Cherokee Nation ceded by treaty a large tract of country to the United States, and stipulated that the said Cherokee Nation "will not hold any treaty with any foreign power, individual State, or with individuals of any State."  These stipulations on our part have been faithfully observed, and ever shall be.
 The right of regulating our own Internal affairs, is a right which we have inherited from the Author of our existence, which we have always exercised, and have never surrendered.  Our nation had no voice in the formation of the Federal compact between the States; and if the United States have involved themselves by an agreement with Georgia, relative to the purchase of our lands, and have failed to comply with it in the strictest letter of their compact, it is a matter to be adjusted between themselves; and on no principle of justice can an innocent people, who were in no way a party to that compact, be held responsible for its fulfilment; consequently they should not be oppressed, in direct violation of the solemn obligations, pledged by treaties for their protection.

 It is with pain and deep regret we have witnessed the various plans which have been devised within a few years past by some of the officers of the General Government, and the measure adopted by Congress in conformity to these plans, with the view of effecting the removal of our nation beyond the Mississippi, for the purpose, as has been expressed, to promote our interest and permanent happiness, and save us from the impending fate which has swept others into oblivion.  Without presuming in doubt the sincerity and good intentions of the advocates of this plan, we as the descendants of the Indian race, and possessing both the feelings of the Indian and the white man, cannot but believe that this system to perpetuate our happiness, is visionary, and that the anticipated blessings can never be realized.  The history of the prosperous and improving condition of our people in the arts of civilized life and christianization, is before the world, and not unknown to you.  The cause which have produced this great change and state of things, are to be traced from the virtue, honor, and wisdom in the policy of the Administration of the Great Washington -- the Congress of the United States and the American People:  the relationship and intercourse established by treaties, and our location in the immediate neighbourhood of a civilized community -- and withal occupying a country remarkable for its genial salubrious climate; affording abundance of good water, timber, and a proportionate share of good lands for cultivation.  If, under all these advantages, permanent prosperity and happiness of the Cherokee People cannot be realized, they never can be realized under any other location within the limits of the United States.

 We cannot but believe, that, if the same zeal and exertion were to be used by the General Government and the State of Georgia, to effect a mutual compromise in the adjustment of their compact, as has been, and is now, using to effect our removal, it could be done to the satisfaction of the people of Georgia, and without any sacrifice to the United Sates.  We should be waiting in liberal and charitable feelings were we to doubt the virtue and magnanimity of the People of Georgia, and we do believe that there are men in that State whose moral and religious worth stands forth inferior to none within the United States.  Why, then, should the power that framed the Constitution of Georgia, and made the compact with the United States.  Why, then, should the power that framed the Constitution of Georgia, and made the compact with the United S. be not exercised for the honor of the country, and the peace, happiness, and preservation of a people, who were the original proprietors of a large portion of the country now in the possession of that State; And whose title to the soil they now occupy, is lost in the ages of antiquity, whose interests are becoming identified with those of the United States, and at whose call they are ever ready to obey in the hour of danger.

 In the treaty made with the Cherokees west of the Mississippi, in May last, an article was inserted with the view of inducing our citizens to emigrate, which we cannot but view as an unprecedented policy in the General Government; and whilst we admit the liberty of the Cherokees as freedmen to exercise their own choice in removing where they may think proper, we cannot admit the right of the Cherokees west of the Mississippi more than any other nation, to enter into a treaty with the United States to affect our national rights and privileges in any respect whatever, and against which we would no little surprise that we have seen in a document printed for the use of Congress, connected with the subject of Indian emigration, the following statement:  "from the ascertained feelings of the Chiefs of the Southern Indians, there is a fixed purpose, by threats or otherwise, to keep their people from emigrating."  Against "them is no doubt but these people fear their chiefs, and on that account keep back."  If we are to understand that these remarks were intended to apply to the people and chiefs of our nation, we do not hesitate in saying that the informant betrays either an entire ignorance on the subject, even wanton disposition to misrepresent facts.  The chiefs of our nation are the immediate representatives of the people, by whose voice they are elected; & with equal propriety it may be said, that the people of the United Sates are afraid of these Representatives in Congress, and other public officers of the Government.

 We cannot admit that Georgia has the right to extend her jurisdiction over our territory, nor are the Cherokee people prepared to submit to her persecuting edict.  We would therefore respectfully and solemnly protest, in behalf of the Cherokee Nation, before your honorable bodies, against the extension of the laws of Georgia over any part of our Territory, and appeal to the United States' Government for justice and protection.  The great Washington advised a plan and afforded aid for the general improvement of our nation, in agriculture, science, and government.  President Jefferson followed the noble example, and concluded an address to our delegation, in language as follows:  "I sincerely wish you may succeed in your laudable endeavors to save the remnant of your nation by adopting industrious occupations and a Government of regular law.  In this you may always rely on the counsel and assistance of the United States."  This kind and generous policy to meliorate our condition, has been blessed with the happiest results:  our improvement has been without a parallel in the history of all Indian nations.  Agriculture is ever where pursued, and the interests of our citizens are permanent in the soil.  We have enjoyed the blessings of Christian instruction, the advantages of education and merit are justly appreciated, a Government of regular law has been adopted, and the nation, under a continuance of the fostering care of United States, will stand forth as a living testimony, that all Indian nations are not doomed to the fate  which has swept many from the face of the earth.  Under the parental protection of the United States, we have arrived at the present degree of improvement & they are not to decide whether we shall continue as a people, or be abandoned to destruction.
 
 In behalf, and under the authority of the Cherokee Nation, this protest and memorial is respectfully submitted.
WASHINGTON CITY Feb. 7, 1829.