and Indian's Advocate
Vol. II, no. 29
Page 2, col. 2b
We gladly present to our readers the following communication.
FOR THE CHEROKEE PHOENIX.
Sept. 22, 1829
MR. EDITOR, SIR -- The present condition and future prospects of the
Indians appear to excite the hopes and fears of the philanthropist, and the
politician of the present day. The one hopes, that the Indians may become
civilized; and experience all the blessings that civilization can give; the
other fears that they will obtain civilization, and then they will lose the
most eloquent theme for popular declamation that they have. To increase
the hopes of the one, and give an additional impulse to the fears of the other,
will you give us, Choctaws, a chance of being heard through the medium of your
very excellent paper.
The Choctaws, as a people, as in a state of progressive improvement, in spite of the discouragements that are so repeatedly thrown in their way. Learning is on the advance; a unanimous wish pervades the community to educate their children, and every effort is made to improve their present condition. Strict attention is paid to the enactment of good laws, and they are faithfully executed; ardent spirits has been banished from among us, and has been compelled to take up its abode among our more civilized white neighbors. Religion has taken deep root among us, some hundreds of our countrymen have experienced the divine efficacy of the religion of the Prince of peace; the gospel has been faithfully preached among us, and the labors of the faithful have been most signally blessed, and there is every prospect, that the smiles of heaven will yet be continued, until the Choctaw Nation shall become evangelized.
We most sincerely wish that we could close this communication, without adverting to circumstances that are adverse to our future prosperity -- but justice to ourselves, and justice to those whose liberality towards us, has enabled us to emerge from our former state, demand of us an exposition of the policy that is pursued towards us, and the struggles that we are making, to obtain a mitigation of the stern decrees that political expediency has marked out for us. Instead of being taken by the hand and directed in the way that has been recommended to us to pursue, our great political father, has said that we must not stay here, but we must go to the west, and there the Indian character will again be renovated. It is said we have no claim to the land here, that we are mere hunters without any pretensions to the right of the soil -- therefore, we must make way for those who have a better right. How different is this from the language of the illustrious Jefferson, -- "go home," said this great and good man to our fathers, "build your houses, clear your fields, and cultivate the earth." He gave our fathers a chain of gold, "so long," said he, "as you live in peace with me and mine, so long as the chain does not rust, so long as the mountains stand, or rivers run, so long will we or mine protect you, and you shall live upon your lands undisturbed; we will take you and yours by the hand, and lead you to all the knowledge that belongs to the white men, and you shall become great and happy" -- We have preserved our friendship for the United States, -- we have never broken our chain or suffered it to rust. We did not understand our great father to say, that this happiness should be chasing the Buffaloe over the snow crowned mountains of the North-west. No: but on the contrary, we should be great and happy in the cultivation of the earth, and in the enjoyment of the fruits of our own industry -- This was the happiness that we have been directed to.
A wish to remain on the soil of our birth reigns paramount in the breast of every Choctaw. Notwithstanding our chiefs have been charged with opposing the wishes of the people, we have been charged with being under the influence of vicious white men. The President has assuredly been imposed upon, by some designing knave, or the Secretary of War would not have repeated the charge, in a late communication addressed to the Agent of this Nation. No man with the least acquaintance with this nation, would for a moment believe that there was the least foundation for the charge. Instead of imputing our wish to remain here, to a patriotic feeling, that is admired in all mankind, we are charged with every unworthy motive that ever degraded human nature. It has always been our wish to remain on this side of the Mississippi river, we still wish to remain; we are entirely beyond the control of our chiefs in regard to the disposal of ourselves; we are free to go or stay and are subject to the will of no autocrat or nabob. We have long since taken our resolution to remain here at all hazard. If ever the Choctaw character is renovated, here is the place to do it -- if we are ever to experience the blessings of civilization, here is the place. We are well satisfied that the country intended for us is not suitable to our present condition. If the country was so desirable, what keeps the white men from settling, for they are known to prefer good settlements, good water and rich lands. A convenient market is what all farming people want, and we have some pretensions to that name.
Our hunters have long since explored that country, and have been unanimous in their report, which says it is in a great measure unfit for cultivation accept, immediately on the rivers. And we are well assured by intelligent disinterested white men that the Choctaws have not arable land sufficient for their support without drawing largely on the Beaver and buffaloe. There was once a time when our fathers sought the woods for a precarious subsistence, but that time is gone. Actual experience has taught us that we can get a more comfortable support from our fields with half the fatigue that the chase formerly gave us. At some convenient time we propose to give you some account of the relations between this nation and the general Government.
Respectfully your friends and Brothers,