Cherokee Phoenix


Published July, 1, 1829

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The Editor of the Milledgeville Recorder, elated by the 'certainty of obtaining at an early day': the lands now in the occupancy of the Cherokees, directs the attention of the Georgians to the growing importance of the State. If he is not deceived in regard to the certainty of obtaining the lands, he is most egregiously mistaken in his calculations. He supposes the population of the State will, in ten years, be double, and in twenty years tripled. The Cherokee country is indeed 'picturesque, beautiful and healthy,' yet is by no means calculated to support dense population, only about one sixth part being fit for cultivation. If this territory was added to the State, Georgia would not yet become the rival of New York, Pennsylvania, or even of Ohio. She will have to overcome one great obstacle before she becomes a great state -- slavery.


Col. S. A. Wales has run the line said to be, but without the least shadow of truth, the true line between the Cherokees and Creeks. This is an instance of high-handed injustice. Shall a large part of our lands be forced from us, because we are weak and are unable to defend them? What has become of the treaties to which we have heretofore been accustomed to flee for shelter from the persecuting arm of Georgia? Will the United States permit her laws to be trampled upon in this manner? For to survey an Indian country without authority from the General Government, is made by the intercourse law a crime of some magnitude. Here is then the turning crisis. If the General Government looks on coolly, and indifferently, and permits the State of Georgia to wrest the lands in question from under our feet, we may give up all for lost, for most undoubtedly other claims, equally reasonable, in the view of men who are guided by power and not by justice, will be laid to the rest of our country, as the one now set forth. If it is the intention of the whites to devour us, we hope they will begin soon -- let us know the worst. If the United States intend to withdraw her protection, let us be apprized of it soon.

When we reflect upon the prospects of the Cherokees and their kindred tribes, and the methods and devices of interested white people to obtain their lands, we feel what is not in our power to express. We feel indignant at such arbitrary measures. We often ask ourselves if are we in the United States, the refuge of the oppressor -- the land of Christian light and liberty? -- Where is the superior excellence of republicanism? While we feel indignant at the persecuting civil power which would bear us down to the ground, we mourn for the apathy ' indifference of the Christian community on the subject. How few are there who will venture to speak a word in our favour? For our part we think, if the public opinion is not for the Indians, we must fall in spite of laws and treaties, for the signs of the times convince us that laws and treaties will form no barrier to the cupidity of our white brothers. But will not justice be outraged? It will be an easy thing for the state of Georgia, whenever she shall think it necessary, to possess the country by force of arms -- even if she should be resisted, the poor Indians can easily be crushed to the dust; but a day will come when impartial justice must have its course.


MR. BOUDINOTT -- In your last number appeared a talk of the President of the United States to the Creeks, and his letter through the Secretary of War to the Cherokee Delegation lately at Washington, upon the subject of Georgia extending her laws over a part of our territory. The letter was received by the Delegation on the eve of their departure from the city, and the subject having been submitted by them to Congress, they did not conceive any reply to be necessary. We are told in the plainest terms, of which language is susceptible, that Georgia has a right to extend her laws over us, and consequently the right to demolish the institutions which we have with so much labor founded upon the advice of Washington and Jefferson, two illustrious worthies who stand preeminent and unrivalled upon the page of American history. That many of the citizens of this great republic will bear with astonishment the President's entire coincidence with the state in her cruel and unjust measures to wrest from us the little remainder of lands left us by her rapacity cannot be doubted. It may be a laudable object for a state to acquire territory, and by spreading on a larger portion of country, and multiplying by the tide of emigration and ever flows into new countries, add to the strength of her representation in Congress, and her respect and influence abroad; but when to effect these, a disposition to tyrannize on the rightful owner of the soil, and by unfair, means to obtain their lands, is manifested, it is indeed, reproachful. It is cruel to tamper with the safety and welfare of the unfortunate Indians from motives of interested policy. We are aware of all the machinations and discoveries the state authority has been guilty of, to scatter the brands of discord and faction in our ranks, to effect our removal, but they have all, so far, proved abortive, and our citizens remain in quietude, though the storm may be fast gathering and the screams of the panther heard on the mountain's side.

The kind of policy President Jackson will pursue toward us is no longer a matter of doubt, but happily, whatever he may say, or on whatever side he may be, our rights and privileges are still the same. We are told that Georgia has derived her pretended power over us from the Treaty of '83, by which all the rights of sovereignty pertaining to Great Britain became vested respectively in the original states of this union. Her sovereignty over her territorial limits excluded from other powers the right of taking possession and occupying uninhabited lands, which was confided to her alone, and tantamount to this right, only, was the issuing of Royal Charter, and was derived by discovery; but as the lands were occupied by the natives she extinguished their title by Treaties. But what right pertained to Great Britain to extend her legislation over the Cherokees, and to declare all their laws and usages void? If any I have yet to learn. She treated them as a distinct sovereign people, professing the right to enact such rules and regulations for their own government as they deemed proper, not trespassing on any connecting principles they might have established by treaty. I cannot conceive that Georgia by the treaty of '83 derived any such right of abolishing our government at her own caprice, when the mother Kingdom pursued a course of policy so very different from the state. But if she admits to her this right, surely with others, it must have been surrendered to the General Government by the confederation. The United States possess the sole and exclusive power to hold treaties, and to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes. Had exclusive power to legislate ever been vested in the state, would she have delegated to Congress the sole power to regulate her trade with us? and would she have consented to guarantee forever, our lands to us, if at that day our right was merely possessory? When was the necessity for the United States in Congress assembled to have received the Cherokees into favour and protection, and they [Cherokees] required to declare themselves under the sovereignty of the United Sates and no other sovereign whatsoever, if the state had such unlimited sway? Why is it that the United States are solicited by treaties permission to open roads, navigate their rivers, and establish fortifications, if all their national rights became vested in Georgia by the treaty of '83? Why will the state have no power to tax our citizens if she does extend her laws? and why shall not we be allowed representation in her legislature? are not these essential rights, the one to the state and the other to the welfare of the citizens? There are many other important privileges that the state cannot assume, and others that will be denied to our citizens, all of which proves the injustice of the power to be exercised.

The President has called our attention to the compact of 1802, as another cause why we should yield submission, or justify in some measure the course of Georgia. The Cherokees, are it is true, a party concerned, but not a party to that instrument, which in itself is nothing more than a conditional agreement that the U. States shall purchase for Georgia our lands, whenever we may choose to dispose them peaceable for a reasonable consideration. It acknowledges as legal proprietors, either to retain or cede at our own option. There is no obligation that the government shall obtain them by any means. There is no provision that Georgia shall exercise that power if the United States fail by fair and honorable terms. The Treaty of Holston 1793 guarantees to the Cherokee Nation all their lands then not ceded. This compact of 1802 was entered into ten years subsequent to that guaranty. Now how it can in any way effect the Indians or their lands without their consent, is impossible for me to conjecture.

We are told that the course we have pursued of establishing an independent legislative government, is the cause why Georgia has departed from the forbearance she has so long practiced! All the Clamor that she has raised on this subject seems to have arisen from the adoption of our Constitution. Our government is no more a substantive one than it was twenty years ago, and all the difference is, we have improved exceedingly the laws, reduced to a form and committed to writing. Georgia has departed from her accustomed course of forbearance because she is fearful we shall become too much attached to civilization and happiness to make further sacrifices for her benefit. The Committee on Indian affairs in Congress last session in one of their reports, speaking of our Constitution, says, 'The committee do not perceive that the regulations adopted by the Cherokees, under the forms of a Constitution and laws, change in any manner their relation to the United States.' As we stand related to the United States alone, let that suffice. It has been said by some that if the Indians were allowed their `testimony' they would yield without further complaint to the laws of Georgia; but this can never be. There is much to be seen in all the legislative enactments of the state relative to Indians that exhibits much illiberal, despotic, and unchristianlike spirit, by which they will never agree to be governed. They are convinced, and every circumstance draws us irresistably to the conclusion, that the grand objection looked to is not their welfare, but oust them of their possessions and become owners of the soil; therefore they never will consent to 'abide the consequences of such rules of action as Georgia might prescribe for their Government.' The laws are to be made so burdensome on the Indians, that the whites, possessed of such superior advantages, may trample upon us with impunity, and render us so disheartened or aggravated as to remove at once, or commit some act of retributive justice that may be swelled in to a justification of our removal at the point of the bayonet.

True, to avoid evil consequences, we have been advised to go far from the civilized man, and associate with the untutored sons of the west, as safe retreat from the evils consequent upon our location in a Christian land! But where shall we find a home? The President has told the suffering Creeks, 'Beyond the Great River Mississippi, where a part of your nation has gone, your Father has prepared a country, large enough for all of you, and he wishes you to remove to it. There your white brothers will not trouble you!' This may be so, but what says Mr. McCoy who led two exploring parties through that region, in his report to the late Secretary of War. Listen. 'It is a fact which need not be concealed, that, if our Indian Tribes are to be removed in that country, some millions of acres must be repurchased for their use, and there is too much ground to fear that such lands will be purchased with greater difficulty than they were at former Treaties.' 'The greatest defect in this country, I am sorry to say that it is of so serious a character, is the scarcity of timber, and of good water there is not an abundance.' This is the fine country which the President tells us will be ours 'while the trees grow or the streams run!' This is the country where Mr. McCoy recommends the establishment of a superintending agency to portion out the timbered land to individuals, and let their farms extend back into the praries, and where they might 'fence with rock,' or 'ditch!' But, Fellow Citizens, here let us remain. If the Government will not protect us here, she will not there. If she will not here stop the cruel and unjust acts of a statement condemn here her plighted faith, fearful the 'sword might prove the mightier is such an interference,' our hopes of prosperity will there be abased with doubt, and the faith of the government of little consequence. If here there is no resting place for us, there is no place to which we can flee for refuge. We have done all we could to gratify the insatiable desire of Georgia, but she continues to persecute us because we will not, now, abandon our homes, our farms, even the dust of our forefathers. And if we are to be annihilated for honestly striving to improve our condition, and render ourselves and posterity happy, we will fall with a consciousness of innocence, and the guilt shall rest upon the merited. Perhaps long after we shall have disappeared, cities may rise up where our beloved chiefs once kindled their Council fires, to receive and deliberate upon the 'good talks' of their Great Father Washington. The finger of the historian may point to some gentle hillock where sleep in dust the last of our Chiefs -- the only monument to perpetuate the memory of a brave but unfortunate tribe. The muse may strike a melancholy note -- and time hush into silence the tyranny of Georgia.



MR. BOUDINOTT, I have seen a copy of the resolutions for the encouragement of temperance. I am much pleased with the object -- it is worthy the attention of every friend to domestic peace and good order in the Society. For the purpose of more efficiently prosecuting the noble cause, I will take the liberty through the medium of your paper, or suggesting to such of the inhabitants of Oougillogy and vincinity as are friendly to the cause of temperance, the propriety of meeting at some suitable place and time, and organizing themselves into a Society. I think there are a sufficient number whose names are attached to the resolutions to render such a meeting interesting and profitable.