Wednesday, June 10, 1829
Our readers, who have paid any attention to the progress of Indian emigration, will recollect that the country at the west is highly extolled by the officers of the United States as being suitable in every respect for Indian habitation. We are even told that the Creeks, many of whom have already removed, and the Choctaws, and Chickasaws, who have explored it, are pleased with it, and prefer it to their old homes. All this shows, how determined interested persons are to misrepresent the Indians, and mislead the public. From all that we can learn, the truth of the case is entirely different. In a letter addressed to an individual in this nation, the Chickasaws say, that the effect of the exploration of the country west of the Mississippi, made by them, is to bind them more closely to the land of their nativity. They saw no country which could be compared with the one they now possess, and in which they can agree to reside. They visited this section of the country now inhabiting by the Creeks, which is very poor. 'The Creeks,' to use their own expression, 'are in a poor condition. They are continually mourning for the land of their birth.- The women are in continual sorrow. We were told by the Creeks, that the land was poor, and that they were wretchedly situated.' The explorers further say, that they saw the land owned by the Cherokees of Arkansas- 'all the good land there is in it, will soon be taken up-they [Cherokees] will soon be crowded.' This is precisely what we have continually heard from respectable eye witnesses. It is therefore to deceive the public and to draw the Indians from their present possessions, that the misrepresentation is constantly repeated.
A writer in the last North American Review, speaking on the civilization and conversion of the Indians makes the following bold and sweeping remark-'to every unprejudiced observer the tribes that still exist, as tribes, within the forests of North America, seem as far from appreciating the advantages of European manners and customs, maxims and morals, and certainly as far from acknowledging the importance of the Christian dispensation, as were the haughty and spirited contemporaries of Powhatan or Miantonomoh.' 'Partial instances of better success,' are however excepted-but then they are but partial- Again, 'Of all people 'under the sun,' our North American tribes seem most firmly attached to practices and opinions, which constitute the distinctive traits of their character.' Now we have no inclination to spend time in refuting the foregoing remarks-they carry, in the view of 'every unprejudiced observer,' their own refutation. One thing is certain, before the writer can establish his position, he must prove that the Cherokees are not Indians.
The extract of a letter which follows is from an unknown female friend in Philadelphia, who signs herself,
A well wisher to the Indians. We can assure our correspondent that we prize highly a word of encouragement from whatever quarter it comes. We need the sympathies of all well wishers to the Indians. We pray that the spirit of GEORGE WASHINGTON, may prevail in the community, to an equal extent that the spirit of WILLIAM PENN prevails among his followers. We feel in duty bound to pay our public acknowledgements to the Society of Friends, who, following the noble example set by the illustrious founder of Pennsylvania, have always acquitted themselves as friends of Indians.
TO ELIAS BOUDINOTT, Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix- Having felt my mind very much engaged in a considerable time past on account of, and for the welfare of the Aborigines of our Country, and my sympathy increased by reading the Indians Advocate, and at seasons when my secret petitions have been offered up to the Throne of mercy and grace for my own preservation, and also that of my friends, and offspring, (as I am a mother of a numerous family, and sensible of all the tender, anxious solicitude of a parent;) I think I may say without boasting, that I have offtimes felt my heart enlarges in Gospel love, and desires raised for the preservation of the whole human family, when under the influence of that love which is universal and inexhaustible. When permitted to partake of such feelings, the native inhabitants of our own Country have been lovingly brought to my remembrance; believing that there is a disposition prevalent in too many of my own nation, to deprive them of their rights of inheritance, without allowing adequate compensation, and almost oblige them to leave their comfortable dwellings and go far into the wilderness. But surely there remains to be a protecting Arm of Power, that has been graciously disposed in all ages of the world to be near to succor those who put their trust in Him and not in the arm of flesh.
I may tell thee if it will afford any consolation or encouragement to thyself or those whose cause thou hast espoused and so feelingly advocated: Particularly those of thy own or the Cherokee Nation; that there are many very many with myself of our nation, who are desirous of holding our the hand of friendship to you in brotherly kindness and affection; whose hearts have rejoiced to learn that there is such a disposition in many amongst you for improvement in virtue and industrious habits; and that you have been enabled to form codes of laws and regulation of government, for yourselves, which, no doubt, you feel beneficial. The Article prohibiting ardent spirits being brought near your councils is praise worthy. It is holding up a good example, ' it is of great importance to every nation, that they discourage the unnecessary use of so pernicious and destructive an article both to health and morals, and every good feeling, yea, may it not be said, eternal happiness in every class of community, in every nation or country.
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We have taken general interest in the information forwarded in the Phoenix concerning the Indians; and our feelings particularly excited on reading the interview between the Winnebagoes and the President of the United States. Altho (sic), the writer seems to feel some sympathy for the poor Indians when he says that 'the heel of the foot of the white man is already upon their soil, and ere long will be pressed down, and made to cover it,' yet he comes to the conclusion that 'it is right doubtless; for it is permitted of Heaven' I hope the writer does not mean to go so far as to charge Divine Justice and Mercy with all the crimes, that man, in the frowardness of his own will has committed since the creation, because, he has permitted them. 'Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth (sic) he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.' And if a belief is entertained that a divine decree of 'esteemed nation has gone forth against the entire Aboriginal race that yet haunt our forests ' wilds, as truly as against the Canaanites of old,' let those who entertain such a belief consider with awfulness and fear, what has eventually befallen the children of Israel, that highly favoured (sic) people of the Lord, when they departed from the law and testimony; was not his Language to them,'You have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.' Has he not punished them accordingly? Can we who make such high professions expect to be acquitted by Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity in Jacob, or sin in Israel with any degree of approbation. Nay, verily. Although he is a God of mercy, he is also a God of justice.
'Civilization must displace barbarism. Is not this realized, in and by the Cherokee Nation and several other tribes. It would no doubt spread far and wide under the protecting care of kind Providence encouraged by a mild pacific government like that of our worthy predecessor Wm. Penn.
Notwithstanding you may be driven from the land of your forefathers by the hand of man, far beyond the Rocky Mountains, yet not beyond the care of Him who regards even the sparrows, ' who said to his disciples 'ye are of more value than many sparrows.' What encouragement then is contained in this language, for us all to endeavor to be followers of a holy Redeemer, who is yet willing, both immediately by his good spirit, in the heart and by sometimes impressing the minds even of feeble instruments, to hold forth a word of encouragement one to another, and if this address should afford any comfort or consolation under trials, may it be ascribed to the great comforter, and not anything to the creature. - I feel no objection to thy communicating such parts of this as move immediately concern the natives in their own language to them.