For the Cherokee Phoenix
Mr. Editor:- I have seen published in one of your late papers the treaty between the United States and Cherokees west of the Mississippi, and am pleased to see the anxiety manifested by the Government to secure for them a permanent home. This blessing it seems will even be extended to those East of the Mississippi, provided they accede to the proposition of the Government. But the offer of a few such paltry articles as a brass kettle, a few pounds of Tobacco 'c. is too insignificant to be thought of, as an inducement for us to abandon our cultivated possessions, and join our wilder brethren in the west. It is too late to think we can be so much allured by soft words and smooth promises as to sell our birth-right for a few dried leaves of a noxious weed. Those who may entertain an opinion of our speedy removal, and that too to be effected by such trifling inducements as above, will be lost in the labyrinth of their speculations; and ere long the splendid mansions which their imaginations have builded upon the plains of Look Out and Coosa will vanish before reality, like darkness before the rising sun.
The subject of emigration is indeed one of great importance, and claims the peculiar attention of every citizen. If we direct our eyes to Arkansas, we shall see our brethren in distress, in consequence of their removal; we see them walking in grosser darkness than ourselves. If we look back, scenes which have befallen them are presented to our view, which cause our hearts to throb with brotherly sympathy. How many honest and innocent fathers and brothers have been laid low by the ruthless hands of more ignorant and vicious neighbors. Avarice and barbarity have deprived their social circles of many worthy members, who would yet have added to our number, had a unanimity of sentiment prevailed, and had they not been duped to wander in search of a mere phantom. Who will dare to raise with the spirit of murder the tomahawk at our door? or who will dare to molest us as we pursue the windings of our paths in peace through our fertile vallies [sic]? None. But can our brethren say in truth this is the case with them? With us the war club is only associated with scenes which have long since passed, but is ever suspended over the heads of our more unfortunate brothers. Let us weigh well this momentous subject ere we act, perhaps an age might not undo that which may have been the work of a day. We know the value of our lands, and we know how to appreciate the comforts of life. We know what has transpired, and we are aware of the possibility of what might again happen. We know the lands which our brethren have given up were very poor and we are certain those which they have got in exchange must be far more barren and sterile, since the face of the treaty has discovered it, and the sum of $50,000 given them 'on account of the reduced value of a great portion of lands ceded.' The aborigines are not accustomed to the culture of a barren soil, but select the choicest spots, to open their farms; and to be honest in the matter, we have now as much poor land, as we have any use for, without undertaking long journies [sic], undergoing new trials, and making experiments on a broad scale to acquire more.
It is said, 'they (the Cherokees,) have by the exchange freed themselves from the harrassing [sic] and ruinous effects consequent upon a location amidst a white population.' But time will soon prove the contrary; Difficulties of a new and more serious nature await them. It has been pretty well ascertained here, that the Delegates violated, and transcended the authority vested in them, by the Nation, in entering into a treaty. And it is not improbable, but we may see another McIntosh tragedy played over again. But independent of this: when the game becomes scarce, by being killed up, or driven farther westward, how will they support themselves? penetrate farther into the forest, or turn their attention to agricultural pursuits? suppose the latter, and where will they have sufficiency of good lands for cultivation? In the event we were to remove and be united with them, our laws would clash with theirs, we should have our own peculiar partialities and prejudices, and they would have theirs; in consequence of this difference perhaps a few avaricious speculating individuals would solicit from the General Government, a set of laws, as stipulated in the 6th article of the treaty. Imagine then how our internal affairs would be regulated, harrassed [sic] on the one side, and embarrassed on the other. Repentance then for the past would be too late. A difference in sentiment would produce a division of parties, and rebellion, dispersion, and extinction would soon follow up in succession. We should be loth to mediate upon the gloomy prospects of bettering our condition by a removal, far less hazard a ruinous experiment.
An attempt has been made to enforce upon us the belief that if we were to emigrate, it would facilitate our civilization, and we would sooner become an enlightened people. But any man of moral capacity who will divest himself of all unnatural prejudices, and view the subject, will at once perceive the fallacy of this doctrine. Our present location possesses greatly the ascendency [sic] in every point of view. Our improvement is as rapid as can reason ably be expected, and we are much farther advanced in the arts and sciences than our brethren at Arkansas. Now, I would ask to be informed by the votaries of this doctrine of policy, how it happens that those who live at the 'paradise of the west,' which affords such powerful means to propel them upward in improvement, are so far behind us? The examples of the surrounding states possess a great influence over us. Our political Government keeps pace by gradual changes, as we imbibe new principles of legislation, with our domestic advancement. Our population is not on the wane in consequence of our situation amidst the whites, but is rapidly increasing-the implements of husbandry have been substituted for the bow and quiver. In short we possess all the enjoyments adequate to the support of common life. Now why deprive us of all our comforts, tear us from all we hold dear, and drag us from the soil which gave us birth, rendered doubly precious, as the bones of our fathers have been deposited here from time immemorial, to accomplish that which is now in rapid progression? Why disregard our prayers for justice, cruelly sport with our feelings, and trample under foot our best interests? Will a glimpse of the blue summit of the Rocky Mountains inspire us with a moral aptitude to learn anthems of adoration to the Great Father of the universe? Will an association with bears and buffaloes [sic] give a new spring and vigour [sic] to our efforts, and thereby enhance our civil and moral improvement? or will the examples of more ignorant and barbarous tribes act as a great incentive for us to train up our children after the manner of enlightened communities, that they may become adept in the sciences, and dive into the deep recesses of nature, and finally become a renowned people? No. Remove us west of the Mississippi and what will be the result? In our earlier days we were accustomed to follow the chase for support; we found it an easy life; but we were entreated to abandon it as a preparatory step for the reception of instruction; the game has at length become scarce, and we no longer depend upon it for support, but upon the cultivation of the earth; and those who have not imbibed this laudable spirit from habits of industry, have been actuated by necessity; and now, while we are prospering under the exhilarating rewards of agriculture, the rifle is again put into our hands, and the brass kettle swung to our backs, and we are led into the deep forest where game is plenty, by the hands of those who would once have had us abandon the chase. Admirably consistent.- Men brought up to the engagement of some certain pursuit are not easily detracted therefrom, when surrounding circumstances invite continuance.- Were we now settled in the `paradise of the West,' the chase would become our favorite pursuit, to follow which, we should neglect other avocations.- The principle which we have imbibed of governing ourselves after enlightened republics would again be subverted into the chase, and we should degenerate from our present eminence, lower and lower, until degradation with its concomitant train of evils should close up the rear.
Notwithstanding the inattention paid by the Government to the solemn resolution of the General Council never again to cede one foot more of land, it is to be hoped and in justice expected, that the Cherokees are to be regarded as free agents in the disposal of their Territory, and upon a refusal to yield compliance no coercive measures will be used. The Government has acknowledged and guaranteed to us our possessions, and bound herself to protect us in our rights, an observance of which is all the Cherokees will ask. She was not unmindful of her own interest at the time when those treaties were made, but justice and humanity had a voice in her councils, and we trust at this late day, when the eyes of the civilized world are directed to the great American republic, for examples worthy of the high eminence to which she has arrived, she will never suffer herself to be so much influenced by interest as to lose sight of justice, and cruelly despoil a tribe of innocent Indians of their most sacred rights and privileges.