Cherokee Phoenix


Published March, 27, 1828

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'Cherokee lands,' 'Georgia and the Cherokees,' 'Georgia rights' 'c. are now becoming popular topics of editorial talk in some of the Georgia papers, and they are certainly well suited to that boisterous kind of genius, which has been frequently exhibited in Milledgeville. If the Editors of the 'Statesman' and 'The Southern' are to be taken as a fair specimen of the advocates of the right of Georgia to lands now occupied be the Cherokees, we should rather apprehend, that this controversy will not be improved. And to suppose that the lands in question will be attained, by means of such language as has been exhibited in this report which we have published, and such language as we continually notice in the papers, would be to deceive oneself and to show an utter ignorance of the spirit of the times. It will be doing an injustice to the U. States, to have the distant idea, that she will be influenced to redouble her exertions to purchase the Cherokee lands, merely by boisterous and frequently unbecoming language; and unless we are very much deceived, the Cherokees will not be influenced to move a step towards the setting sun, by such means. If the State of Georgia ever attains her wishes, it will be by fair and friendly means, when the United States shall purchase, and the Cherokees voluntarily relinquish, the Country, and receive an equivalent. But it is expected they will act independently for themselves, as freemen, ' as the rightful owners of the land. We are aware that force is talked of, but is nothing more as yet, and it is our opinion that it will not be carried into effect, either by the United States or the State of Georgia. This great Nation, this land of the oppressed, this land of civil and religious liberty, will not disgrace itself; by driving away with the point of the bayonet a few handfuls of Indians, and for what? for a small tract of country, and because these Indians, by their smallness, are unable to defend it. It will be more honorable and highly more becoming, if those, who wish to make the Cherokee question a matter of private conversation, and public harangues, will pay attention to decorum and propriety of language. This would be the best course, for if their cause is just, it will not require intemperate language to disclose the truth, and if their cause is unjust, which we rather think is the case, they will be saved from much mortification.

It would appear from what has heretofore come to our knowledge, that the people of Georgia, we mean those who are urging for the acquisition of the Cherokees lands, were perfectly united, and that the foundation of their claim was well known and harmoniously supported. The case, however, seems to be different. while some are establishing their right to the lands in question, from a grant of a English Sovereign, others merely laugh at this idea, and resort to another, equally as absurd, 'permanent occupancy.' What they mean by permanent occupancy, we are not able to divine. It cannot be the common acceptation of the word, for the Cherokees have, most undoubtedly, a stronger claim to this Country, on the ground of occupancy, original and permanent occupancy, than any other people. They were is peaceful possession of their lands, given them, not by a Roman Pontiff, but by the Creator, when the first inhabitants of Georgia came into this Country, and it is well known that this possession ever since has been permanent. We have not yet seen a Georgian permanently occupying any part of the Cherokee Nation; and in fact none have ever attempted to settle it without being driven out by order of the United States Government. It would seem rather curious and not a little mortifying if the declaration of these men, for it is nothing more, was admissible, the rightful owners should be driven from their possessions, with the point of the bayonet.

The determination of the Cherokees not to remove, is considered insolent, and the reason of this insolence is ascribed to the Protection of the United States. It is true the General Government has greatly befriended the Cherokees, and it is well for them, for if it had been otherwise, they would most assuredly have been devoured fifty years ago. But it is to true that they have become insolent from this fact. They have been respectful to their great Father, and the wish to preserve the same respect, though they have refused to sell their country to him. But is it a crime to refuse to sell ones property? Is an inferior person accounted guilty when he conscientiously withholds his possessions from his superior? In this land of liberty he certainly ought not to be. We claim the privileges of free men, and wish to have the right of disposing of our lands to the United States, when, and in what way we please. Query. If the lands, now in the peaceable possession of the Cherokees, are absolutely the property of the State of Georgia, why is it, that money is appropriated, Commissioners appointed, and proffers made to purchase these lands? There is somewhere a manifest inconsistency.



A gentleman in York, Upper Canada, in a letter to the Editor writes as follows: 'The Mohawk tribe of Indians, who have a village on the banks of the Grand River, in Upper Canada, are a civilized nation, many of whom can read the English language well. They have books in their own language, a church, schools, 'c.