The Council to the Commissioners.
NEWTOWN, CHEROKEE NATION
October 24th, 1823.
IN GENERAL COUNCIL.
FRIENDS AND BROTHERS: Your communication of the 21st inst. has been deliberated by the General Council, and it seems that you anticipate a hope that our application for a cession might yet be granted. We assure you, in the strongest terms that our rejection is founded upon a mature and deliberate determination, which cannot be changed. The title of the Cherokees to the lands in their possession, is indisputable; and the United States, by the treaty of Holston, in 1791, in the 7th article, fully declares it to be so, by solemnly guarantying it to them.
Brothers: We are fully sensible that we are dependent upon the Government of the United States for protection, and have ever manifested a disposition to conduct ourselves in such a manner as to comport with our duty in that respect; and we are surprised, and at a loss to know what has given grounds to harbor a contrary opinion of our disposition in that respect. There must be a source from whence a misrepresentation of our disposition has been communicated to our father the President. The remark that we made, 'that the Cherokees once possessed an extensive country, and they made cession after cession, to our father, the President, to gratify the wishes of our neighboring brethren, until our limits had become circumscribed,' was not intended to mean that we would wish to repossess what we had surrendered, (as would seem from your eloquent remarks on that point) but to show that, if we continued to yield to our father's application in behalf of our neighboring brethren, as we had heretofore done, that the whole of our lands would be gone. It is not our swish to 'demolish temples raised to science, and dedicated to God, so that beasts might have a wider range, or game a broader play,' nor to 'lay waste a city, that a wigwam might rise upon its ruins.' But it is our desire that monuments of science may be raised, by our hands on the dust of our progenitors, from which the beasts of the field have receded, and the wigwams tottering into ruins.
The bow and the quiver are laid aside, and the pursuits of the chase are forgotten. The axe, the hoe, the blow, and the shuttle, are introduced, and progressing like a consuming fire, and it is hoped that a mist will not arise to dampen its progress. You suggest an idea, that, if this nation would preserve a compact form of a territorial government of the United States, not within the limits of the states, no obstacle would remain to the organization; but, while they are within the limits of the states, the state sovereignty must prevail, and they must become merged in the white population, and take the standing of individual citizens. And you further remark, that, in case of a cession of a part, that all those who do not choose to become citizens, would be indemnified for their losses, and those that chose to become members of the states can be secured in a residence, and let into all the privileges of ordinary citizens. Brothers; the suggestion of the organization of a territorial government, is a subject of too great weight for the nation to take up in their present situation, therefore the suggestion cannot met our acceptation. As respects being secured, with indemnification and residence, and privileges of citizenship in the states, we beg leave to ask you to look to the treaty of 1819. What was the provision made for the Cherokees in the second article of that treaty? And what has been the course pursued by the states of Tennessee and Georgia, and some of their citizens, relative to the sacred obligations contained in that article? We find that opposition; fraud, and every species of injustice, were raised against the interests of the poor inexperienced Cherokees by them; and before the aid and assistance of the magnanimous hand of the General Government could be extended to their relief, an entire ruin and loss of property have been sustained by many of them; and many of them who are entitled to compensation for improvements under that treaty, have never received one cent-a very small portion of the improvements left have been valued and paid for.
Brother: We cannot curtail the present limits, which has been reserved to this nation in the treaty of 1819. The prosperity and future happiness of our posterity cannot be lost sight of, when their destiny is placed in our hands; and should we act as an hones father, and preserve their interest and their right, they will rejoice and be happy in commemorating our names, when we are no more. Under these circumstances, our brethren of Georgia cannot, or ought not, to desire us to destroy ourselves, so that they may aggrandize themselves, and raise temples upon our ruin. Their state is respectable in wealth and in population, as well as in liberal sentiments of honorable men, and the extent of its bounds not small, but considerably larger than many of the other states in the Union.
Brothers: We beg leave to present this communication as a positive and unchangeable refusal to dispose of one foot more of land; so that no further application or anticipation of success may be encouraged on your part, and that a final close of the correspondence on this subject should herewith take place, as the Council will very soon rise, having already continued four days over the time allowed by the authorities of the nation for its sitting.
With calmness and cordiality, we subscribe ourselves as friends and brothers,
PATH x KILLER, Principal Chief
MAJOR x RIDGE, Sp'kr. of Coun.
JNO. ROSS, Pres't N. Com.
A. M'COY, Clerk N. Com.
ELIJAH HICKS, Clerk N. Council.