and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, September 9, 1829
Vol. II no. 23
Page 3, col. 3a
CREEK PATH, May 5, 1829
Dear Sir:- I arrived home sometime in March last from that spacious and fine country in the west. Thinking that you would like to hear something in regard to "the prospects that await" us "in the west". I avail myself of this time, to communicate to you some facts, which came under my personal observation.
I entered the confines of the Cherokee Nation (Arkansas) about the fifth of October 1828. I was received with civility, and treated kindly by our brother Cherokees in that country, and notwithstanding they are the same people, and connected with us by every tie of blood and relationship, yet I though they differed widely from this nation, and they appeared to me to display those traits more peculiar to Indians in a rude and uncivilized state. But they are making rapid advances towards improvement, and the difference must be attributed to their following the chase, and thereby neglecting to cultivate their minds.
My curiosity was not a little excited, on entering a country that has been set apart by the General Government for the various Indian tribes to concentrate, and more particularly so, when I knew that it was contemplated to move this nation.
But I must confess before I go any farther that my prejudice was highly excited long before I saw that country. However, after residing about four months in that country, which was chiefly taken up at the Creek Agency, where I had many opportunities of informing myself about the nature of the country in general, and of the relation the Indians stood with their white brothers, I endeavored to lower my prejudice, that I might be able to give a candid statement of facts, so far as my knowledge of that country extended.
The local situation of that country cannot bear a comparison with this, in any respect, and it will be a barrier that will ever remain, to prevent the improvement of that country. It possesses no allurements to induce Indians to better their condition, but the reverse, surround as they are by every species of intrigue and imposture-infested by roguish out-laws from all parts of the United States-together with the various remnants of Indian Tribes, who are not stationary, but rove from place to place in quest of game or of booty, and who think it a great honor to be styled a great horse thief. I saw many Indians of various Tribes, such as Osages, Peoles, Peyanshaws, Miamies, Senecas, Shawnees, and Delawares, and various others. The Delawares claim to be the Grandfather of all Indians, and imbibe more enmity against the white people than any other tribe. They often cry with anguish when speaking of their one powerful nation.
Our brother Cherokees have obtained all the land that is of any consideration on the Arkansas River, from Fort Smith westward, (that is on the north side of the river). From Fort Smith to the Creek Agency is about sixty one miles, the full length of the nation up and down the Arkansas River, between those two points, I do not recollect of seeing any good upland. Good land is entirely confined to the Arkansas and its tributaries. Water, (that is good water) is also very scarce in most parts of the Western country. There is hardly any streams of water, and those of considerable size, but what are subject to have standing pools in dry seasons, and in fact, the Arkansas River itself appeared last winter almost absorbed in her sand.
It is of all regions most uninviting, and the poorest I ever saw. It presents nothing amusing, or instructive; but everything that is calculated to dull the faculties, depress the mind, and to suppress all those finer principles of the mind so essential to the maintenance of virtue, and good order in society.
From Fort Smith to the northwest corner of the State of Missouri is seventy seven miles and three quarters. I was informed by those who accompanied the surveyor, that it was the poorest country in the universe, nothing but mountains and brambles in extent. It is indeed unlike any other country this side of the Mississippi.--Then following the northwestern line of the state, until it strikes the old territorial line, and then following said line to the Arkansas River you would pass over nothing but barren land, and extensive prairies, almost boundless in extent. within this circumference, there are about two million and a half acres of land. Thence down the Arkansas to the mouth of the Canadian River, up the same until north and south line from river to river will make the seven millions of acres, (see late treaty) which will be so far west as to clash very much with the interest of the Creeks, and it must strike the river some distance above where the Creeks are locating. This fact was no little cause of dissatisfaction among them before I came away; and not only this, but they considered themselves sadly disappointed in regard to the nature of the country. In speaking of their dissatisfaction with Mr. _____ he observed to me "if it had not been for him there would have been but few Creeks in that country, that he had ruined his character, that he was called the greatest liar in the nation, and well they might say so, he observed, for I have told them nothing but lies from the beginning about that country" (he was one of the exploring party with Col. Brearly before the Creeks emigrated) and on being asked what was his object in deceiving the Indians in such a manner, he observed, that he thought that their condition could not be worsted by a removal, that he thought it was better for them to move under such circumstances than for them to remain in the old nation.
The poor unfortunate Creeks have been very much disappointed in their views and prospects, and, as brother Indians, I often felt for their destitute condition. They are treated with contempt, scorn, and ridicule, and every other species of indignity that a community could be treated with, are heaped upon them, and that too, by him who ought to be considered their friend and protector instead of being an avaricious oppressor, and an insulting demagogue. No friend to consult or to assist them, they are left alone to make the best of a bad bargain. The truth is they have no guarantee to any land in that country, all they have is a mere promise of the government (see Washington Treaty 1826). All the land, they can claim by the promise lies between the Verdigree River and the Arkansas, and a part of that is included in the Cherokee boundary. Their farthest settlement from the Cherokee line does not exceed 12 or 15 miles up the Arkansas, and much farther than that they cannot go for the grand prairie, a\for they already have extensive prairies all around and amongst them.
The Creeks immediately where they are located have excellent land, but it is badly timbered and not extensive, not even enough for one fifth of the population of the Creek Nation, it is not as large as Creek Path Valley. They have settled very densely indeed, but the nature of the country is such that they cannot branch off any distance.
I have frequently thought the condition of the Creeks and their treatment was prophetic of what our situation would be, were we to relinquish the land of our nativity, and put ourselves completely under the control and power of interested men. Yes it foretells something awful of the fate of Indians. Fatal "prospects that await" us "in the west," when we shall have rulers and judges over us who will take us under their "paternal care, & exercise over our persons and property,the salutary rights and duties of guardianship." How degrading the thought! that we are considered more wretched and helpless now than we were thirty or forty years ago.- What can this be owing to? Is it because we are on the retrograde, that we are now considered as objects of pity, and as worthy of the "paternal care & guardianship," of political benevolence? Or is not rather because they are advanced far superior in civilization, & thereby better calculated than their fathers were to draw the line of distinction? Or perhaps it is from pure compassion that they may save from ruin our infant institutions, and for our future welfare our brothers wish to take us into the balm shades of "paternal:" love, that our tender faculties may be secure from harm or injury, that we may by degrees receive and imbibe the liberal principles of justice, equity, and of governmental laws. How unmeaning are words when selfishness and caprice are brought in contact-justice, equity, virtue, and honor, those ennobling principles of greatness, alas, how few maintain or understand them; and as for the poor Indian how vainly do they plead in his behalf!
I am, dear sir, yours with high consideration, &c.
New Echota, Cherokee Nation.