CONDITION OF THE CHEROKEES.
A gentleman who has resided for a considerable time in the Cherokee Nation, writes to his friend in this city as follow:
CARMEL, CHEROKEE NATION,
September 6, 1830.
Dear Sir -- As I am persuaded that you feel deeply interested in behalf of the Cherokee Indians, it is presumed that any statements of mine tending to show their present condition, will not be unacceptable. You will recollect that I have made my residence in the Cherokee Nation for more than one year and eight months. I live on the Federal road leading from Augusta, Geor. to Nashville, Tenn. about forty miles form the white settlements of the former, and sixty from those of the latter state. I shall content myself, at present, with mentioning a few facts only, some of which may not have come to your knowledge.
During my residence here, much of my time has been spent in travelling. I have been in almost all parts of this Nation. My travels have been generally however, in the more destitute parts. More than once I have traversed in that portion of this country called the Valley Towns. I have also visited many families at their own homes, learned their mode of living, witnessed, in some instances, their wants and their sorrows, and in others, experienced their kindness and hospitality. One prominent object with me in all my intercourse with the Cherokees, has been, to ascertain their true condition.
It has been said and reiterated in the ear of the public, that the game of the Indians is principally gone; that they are an idle, intemperate race, that they never can be effectually taught industrious and sober habits, and that so large a portion of them are now in actual want, that the cause of humanity calls for their removal to the wilderness of the west, in order to better their condition. I am aware that these, and similar statements have been already ably refuted, yet I fully believe, that the truth is not yet known, relative to the situation of the Cherokees, and consequently, that every item of information on this subject, may in some way subserve the cause of justice and truth. That the game of the Cherokees is chiefly gone is not denied, but it is not true that they are thereby deprived of comfortable means of subsistence. Yet the impression which persons giving the above representation would make on the public mind, appears to be that they have not a better, or an equal substitute for their game. It becomes unnecessary, therefore to repeat the fact which has been before stated that the Cherokees, instead of depending, as they once did, upon the deer and the buffalo for support, now depend upon their flocks and their herds and their cornfields. I know not of a single family which depends solely upon hunting for support. Individuals it is true, spend much time in the pursuit of game, yet so far as my knowledge extends, no Cherokee expects to maintain a family by so doing.
The following facts show, that as a nation, the Cherokees have not only a comfortable means of support for their own population, but that they have something to spare for the use of their neighbors. There are three or four public roads leading from Georgia to Tennessee through this nation: These roads are much travelled. Besides persons on ordinary business, may be seen drovers with large numbers of horses, mules, and hogs, passing from Kentucky and Tennessee to Georgia. While in this nation these animals consume vast quantities of corn and other provisions, and yet they are supplied almost exclusively from the products of this country. Thousands of bushels of corn sold by natives every year, which are raised by full Cherokees, to travellers and drovers. Within two miles of my residence are two public houses, owned and kept by natives. To my own personal knowledge, large droves of horses and hogs are very frequently supplied with corn for the night at each of these taverns. I have known as many as 1,400 hogs and their drivers to be supplied at the same time at one of these Indian houses. Nor are instances of this kind rare. A part of the corn sold at these public houses is raised by their owners, and a part purchased of full Cherokees I speak not of the quantities raised and sold by white citizens, because I wish to confine my remarks to natives. But if the Cherokees, as a body, are in such a state of want as has been represented, where are such quantities of corn and other provisions obtained to supply the calls of travellers? If they never can be taught industrious habits, how is it that they can annually dispose of their thousands of bushels of corn? Their sales are not however confined to the single article of corn. Large numbers of cattle and hogs are sold by them every year to citizens of Georgia and of other states. Large droves of cattle purchased in this nation are driven annually to Virginia, and some are taken and sold in the Pennsylvania markets. I am personally acquainted with individuals engaged in this business. Cattle raised in this nation, I am informed, are sold in markets as far distant as Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania.
Wheat is also raised in some parts of this nation. As many as five or six of my own neighbors have procured good crops of this valuable article the present season. This wheat is floured at a mill owned by natives. I have seen of the flour, and hesitate not in saying that it would be considered merchantable in any market.
Another fact worthy of mention is, that from a single Indian town, called Ellijay, fourteen miles from this place, were conveyed, during the summer of 1829, seventeen or eighteen loads of corn averaging from thirty to thirty-five bushels each. This corn was purchased by inhabitants of Georgia, and carried on wagons seventy miles to some of the counties of that state contiguous to this nation. It passed my own dwelling on its way to Georgia. Seven loads of it were purchased of two full Cherokees, a man and his wife, whose names are Natcheer and Alesey. It must not be omitted here that Ellijay is a dark Indian town fourteen miles from the public road. Similar statements might, I doubt not, be made respecting other parts of this nation, but I have chosen to confine my remarks chiefly to facts which have occurred under my own observation.
And do not these facts show directly the reverse of what has been so often said of this people? If the Cherokees can sell hundreds of cattle and hogs annually, and annually part with thousands of bushels of corn to travellers, and if seventeen or eighteen loads of it can be spared from a single Indian town, does the cause of humanity call for their removal to the howling deserts of the West, to prevent them from perishing from want? The facts I have mentioned show moreover that corn, and beef, and pork can be obtained here on cheaper terms than in the neighbouring counties of Georgia. If it be not so, how, I ask, can purchasers of these articles afford to buy and convey them seventy miles or upwards either for their own use or for the purpose of selling them again? If it be true then that the game of the Indian is gone, let it not be forgotten that he has a more valuable substitute for his support.