WASHINGTON AND THE CHEROKEES.
Saturday, 7th January.
Bloody fellow: On Thursday last, I was not prepared to enter upon business, as one of the Chiefs was then sick-I am now desirous of entering upon business.
About two years ago Nontuaka was chosen by his Nation to go to New York, to the great beloved man, at the great white house; when he was there, he had not a good interpreter, and not well understanding the english [sic] language, he could not well receive so much advantage from his journey as his Nation expected. When he returned the whole Nation were assembled, and were disposed to enter upon the business of peace between them and the United States.
I shall now enter upon the business in behalf of my own and other Nations.
[The Bloody fellow then produced a string of white Wampum, which he held in his hand until the business of the day was finished.]
I wish you to be, if you are not already made, acquainted with the use and value of these beads, which among the Cherokees answer the same purpose as letters with you, and are held in the highest estimation.
George Miller, one of our people has been brought to attend this treaty, both as a witness and that, he might assist the interpreter in explaining our talks, as he understands the english [sic] language.
It was early in the summer, soon after the treaty with Governor Blount, that the whole Cherokee Nation was assembled, and we delegated on this treaty. The whole Nation were assembled at the great beloved town, Astanolay (on the waters of the Mobile,) when it was agreed on to send an embassy to Philadelphia, to see the President of the United States, and yourself.
The talks to Nontuaka, delivered by the President and you, are now in the beloved town Astanolay, and these talks have induced us to come to this place. In these talks you informed us, that as North Carolina had not joined the Union, our business could not be attended to; but as that State has since joined, we hope our business maybe now accomplished.
Before I left my nation it was determined that a stop should be put to the further effusion of blood, and that they should take the United States by the arm with a warm heart.
The talk which I am now delivering to you, is the talk of the beloved men of my Nation, with a desire that their children might grow up on the land in peace: and this is the talk of our beloved men.
Among us we have two Kings to look up to, but you have only one, who we hope will extend his eye over all, both red and white. We have put ourselves under the protection of the United States, and from them only do we expect justice, and we wish to become as one people. We wish our talks may be attended to, and we have that justice, which is the portion of all.
We remember the talks of our forefathers, who told us of the first coming of the white people, over the great waters, that they were few in number and settled on the lands of the red people- they have now become so numerous as to be able to overpower them, but we still expect we shall have justice done us.
Last summer we received talks from Governor Blount, informing us that he was authorized to hold a treaty with us; we accordingly repaired to the place appointed.
When we left our country we all rejoiced in the expectation of having something done for us in regard to our lands, but when we arrived at the treaty ground, we were sorry to find it was not the case.
Very soon after we opened our business, Governor Blount informed us, that he was authorized by Congress, to purchase our lands of us, which being so contrary to our expectations afflicted us exceedingly.
When I found Governor Blount wanted to purchase our lands, I told him, that I loved my lands, and would not part with them, that, I came there not to treat of selling land, but on public business of friendship between the white and red people. I tell you truly what I said to Governor Blount, and I am come to ask of you whether he was authorized to purchase our lands?
We remained seven days, at the place of treaty, on this business, and Governor Blount still urging us to sell our lands- the thoughts of which made tears come into my eyes daily.
On the seventh day, finding Governor Blount still urging the sale of lands, I told him, I was desirous of going to General Washington and Congress, to see whether I could not obtain better satisfaction; to which, Gov. Blount replied, that he was fully authorized for the purpose, therefore it would be unnecessary for any Indians to go.
I however persevered in my wishes to go to Philadelphia, when Governor Blount asked me whether I had money to defray the expenses of my journey, this struck me forcibly, and reflecting that our people young and old were in his power, I then told him that if he would not demand so much land of us, we would give him a small piece, without any consideration whatever, if he would let us and our children return to our own country in peace and safety.
In answer to this Governor Blount told me that he had goods in his house to pay for the lands, besides which, one thousand dollars should be paid yearly. I told him that I could not think of taking it, that it would not but a breech-clout for each of my nation.
When the treaty was first fully opened, Governor Blount asked of us lands at the Muscle-Shoals, I told him that we could not give them up, as they were not clearly our property, but belonged to the four nations, and were the common hunting grounds for them.
Governor Blount told me, that he had already purchased of these lands of the State of Georgia, but was desirous of making a fuller purchase of our Nation. That he intended to erect store houses on these lands from which we could be supplied with goods, and smith's shops where our guns could be repaired.
After which Governor Blount proposed a line upon the upper parts of the Tennessee, to go from that river upon a ridge which divides the waters of Nine Mile Creek from Little River. This line, I also refused.
Governor Blount then proposed another line, at the Fork below Chota, to run to the aforesaid ridge, which he said he wanted to settle on himself for the purpose of being near our nation, and that he might more readily confer with us on public business, and he said none others, than himself should settle there. The Fork I rejected.
Governor Blount said he would quit the Fork, but wished that the line might be on the aforesaid ridge, which divides the waters of the Tennessee from those of Little River, and that this line should be a lasting line, in order to divide the white from the red people. On which I complained to him, that the white people had settled on our lands there, without our permission.
After a good deal of dispute with Governor Blount I proposed that from the fork down of the long Island of Holstein, should be the boundary (he having before mentioned a water course.) But he still insisted upon the ridge before mentioned, observing that the game on that ground was all destroyed, the land settled and therefore could be of no use to us.
As Governor Blount still insisted upon the before mentioned line, I asked him whether the handful of goods was all he meant to give us for the lands, and if so, it was nothing equal to the value of them. To which Governor Blount replied that the few goods he had, were not intended to pay for the lands, but as presents. The yearly payment of one thousand dollars was to pay for the lands.
It is my desire that you should understand, that John Watts and myself were the principal speakers at the treaty, being appointed for that purpose, by our Nation. That we repeatedly told Governor Blount that we considered the sum of one thousand dollars per year, as too small a price for our lands; and not near as much as Mr. McGillvray had obtained for a worse tract. He replied that he was not authorized to offer more, but that he would write to Congress upon the subject, and let us know whether more would be granted.
John Watts told Governor Blount that he knew the North Carolina people to be headstrong, and that they had under the sanction of a flag of truce laid his uncle, The Old Corn Tassell [sic], low, it was therefore vain to contend about a line at this time, as he knew that they would have their own way. And that they would not observe the orders of Congress or any body else.
Watts further told Governor Blount, that we wondered that he should be appointed for this business, being a North Carolinian but that he would notwithstanding make him an offer of a line. Whenever you North Carolinians make a line, you tell us it shall be a standing one; but you are always encroaching upon it, and therefore we cannot depend upon what you say.
Governor Blount replied to Watts, that these lands on the line now contested, were taken from the Cherokees in time of war, and that he did not therefore consider the settlements made on them as encroachments.- This is all which Watts said upon the subject. He told me privately that the death of his uncle so affected him, that he could not speak any more, and desired me to finish the business.
After Watts retired, Governor Blount repeated to me the observation about the country's having been conquered, he told me, that I knew the Americans had driven the English out of the country and that the land had been purchased with American blood. On this I observed, that although it was true the English were driven from the country, they had come a great way to fight the Americans, and that the Americans had been assisted by the French. That no good purpose could be answered by bringing these up now, and therefore such things ought to be buried forever.
[The Bloody fellow and the other Chiefs then agreed to meet again at the Secretary's house on Monday, the 9th instant at noon.]