UNITED BRETHREN AND THE CHEROKEES
We have lying before us a long 'Message of the Directors of the Society of the United Brethren for propagating the Gospel among the heathen to the Chiefs and Council of the Cherokee Nation,' bearing date, Salem, 11th July 1803, and signed by Charles Gotthold Reichel, Christian Lewis Benzein, and Simon Peter. We insert one or two paragraphs of this message, to show that while the rest of the world in a great measure neglected the Indians, absorbed perhaps, as some are at this day, with the consideration, that they were a 'blood thirsty race,' these worthy people were contriving, unnoticed by the world, to establish missions among the Cherokees and other tribes.
Friends and Brothers, One of the principal intentions of the United Brethren, when they began settlements in North Carolina, was to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God to you and other Indian Nations. Most 50 years are now passed, since some of your Chiefs, who occasionally came to our settlements, had a meeting with our Brethren, wherein it was proposed to them that the Brethren were willing to send Missionaries to your Nation, to teach you and your children the way to eternal life and happiness. Your Chiefs declared then their approbation of a Mission in very friendly terms. But wars and continued troubles prevented the execution of it, which grieved us much.
Friends and Brothers, In the year 1783, now 20 years ago, when Col. Martin was agent, we made another trial to begin a Mission and sent our beloved Brother Martin Schneider to visit you in your towns on the river Tennessee. He returned to us in January 1784, and informed us that you had received him very kindly and promised him to form a resolution about receiving teachers as soon as your great Chief Taysell came home. But while Brother Schneider was preparing to visit you again, and to hear your resolution, a war broke out, and the further communication between us and you was hindered to our great sorrow.
Accompanying the 'Constitution of the Valley Towns Bible and Tract Society,' which we insert below, we received a letter from the Rev. E. Jones. He says, 'The friends of the Gospel will be pleased to hear that the printing of the Scriptures meets the entire approbation of the people in this region so far as the operations of our Society have been extended. I have the pleasure to say that the interest about spiritual things has not subsided. A considerable number are inquiring after the way of life.'
Of the Valley Towns Bible and Tract Society.
1st. The designation of this society shall be the Valley Towns Bible and Tract Society, the object of which shall be to circulate in the Cherokee language, the Holy Scriptures and such hymns and tracts as may be calculated to diffuse among the natives of this nation, the knowledge of the Christian religion.
2d. Each subscriber, of twenty-five cents and upwards, shall be a member of this Society.
3d. Each subscriber, of five dollars at one time shall be a member for life.
4th. The business of this Society shall be managed by a chairman, treasurer, secretary and a committee, of not less than seven members, with power to add to their number. They shall meet once in three months or oftener. The time and place to be fixed by themselves. Five members shall form a quorum.
5th The committee shall divide those parts of the Nation which may be within the sphere of their operation into sections; and shall appoint one or two of their members to each section, (who may associate with themselves any subscribers) for the purpose of soliciting donations and subscriptions from the inhabitants thereof. And for this purpose, they shall be authorized to convene sectional meetings in order to make known the objects of this Society.
6th. Subscribers shall be entitled to take up the amount of their subscription in books if they choose.
7th. When any books remain in the hands of the treasurer of depository, they may be sold at such prices as the committee shall affix to them.
8th No books shall be distributed gratis nor at reduced prices nor on credit, but by order of the Committee or on the personal responsibility of the officer having charge of them.
9th. The committee shall be authorized to make such regulations for their own government as they shall deem expedient; provided they be not inconsistent with any of the above articles.