CHOCTAW COUNCIL OF CHIEFS.
The following papers, relating to a Council held by the principal Chiefs and head men of the Choctaw Nation, about the 17th and 19th of September, have just been received by the Editors of the New York Observer, from a gentleman who was present at the sittings; and as they cannot appear in that paper until Saturday, they are in the meantime obligingly furnished us for publication. If our countrymen can resist the eloquent appeals of these Indians in behalf of themselves and their children, and can still, by force, or a series of vexations which amount to the same thing, persist in driving them from the soil which God and nature give them, we have yet to learn the true character of the American people. Would to heaven that the same spirit of forbearance and kindness which breathes through the addresses of Col.Folsom, might actuate the counsels of the national Government and the individual States.
N. Y. Jour. of Com.
The Choctaws and Chickasaws possess lands in the States of Mississippi and Alabama, to a large extent. I have in my hands a pamphlet, entitled 'A Message from the President of the United States, transmitting sundry documents in relation to the various tribes of Indians within the United States, and recommending a plan for their future location and Government, printed at Washington, Jan. 27, 1825.' By this pamphlet I learn, that the Choctaws and Chickasaws claim lands in the State of Mississippi to the amount of- 17,705,000 acres,
The Choctaws claim in Alabama 781,440 do.
The Chickasaws claim in do. 495,536 do.
The Choctaws in Arkansas Territory 8,858,560 do.
Total amount in acres 27,840,636 do
Here is the amount of land in acres, to which two tribes have what is called an 'Indian Title.' Here is the amount of interest at stake, so far as acres of land are concerned. The population of these two tribes, according to the same pamphlet, within the limits of the two States, is 24,635. I have in my possession the original census of the District in the Choctaw Nation over which Col. David Folsom presides. It was taken about a year since. There were then 30 captains, 5627 inhabitants, 3974 horses, 11, 661 cattle, 22,047 hogs, 530 spinning wheels, 124 looms, 360 plows, 22 white men with Choctaw families, 112 oxen, 7 blacksmith's shops, 32 wagons, 2 cooper's shops, 197 negroes, 136 sheep, 1 cotton gin, and 5 schools. Here you see other interests put at stake by the questions which are now agitated respecting the Indians. The census above given relates only to one District in a single tribe.
Last week this District, met to attend an annual council. The Chief of another District, Col. Garland and his head men, being invited, attended the same Council. I made it an object to attend this Council night and day. The Agent of the United States Government, Col. Ward, was present part of the time, with his interpreter. After they had taken seats, at a suitable time, Col. David Folsom addressed the Agent in the following manner, as nearly as I can recollect:-
'Sir,- It has pleased the Great Spirit, that the 'beloved men' of two Council Fires should meet and sit together under this white house. We salute Col. Ward, as the Messenger of our Great Father. Our first Father, General Washington, loved all his white children, and all his red children. He always gave us good counsel. We loved his words. Our great Fathers who succeeded him, have given us good counsel. We have loved their counsel and followed it. We have begun to increase a little knowledge and industry. We were always friends to the American people. We have lived in peace with them. Our chain of friendship has never been broken, nor has it grown rusty. When they told us that they had an enemy, and wished our help, poor and weak as we were, we assembled our warriors and went forth to the battle. When the Americans shed the blood of their enemy, we shed their blood to. And when the Americans' blood was shed, our blood was shed also. We were true friends to them. We have lived under the wing of our Great Father. We still wish to live there. We salute you in a few words. We have not a long talk to give you. If Col. Ward has anything which he wishes to say to us, we will hear him. If he has not, we will attend to our own business.- We shall remain here under this Council House two or three days.- At any time when he wishes to talk to us, we will listen to him. This is all.
Col. Ward then rose up and addressed the Chiefs and beloved men in a kind manner. He then read a letter addressed to himself, from the Secretary of War, which was interpreted by the U.S Interpreter: a copy of which I send you:
DEPARTMENT OF WAR,
July 31st, 1829
'To Col. Wm. Ward, Agent, 'c.
Sir,- I have received your letter, and approve the talk made by you to the Indians. The President is fully satisfied that the opposition produced amongst the Indians, against emigration, is ascribable mainly to the interference and bad counsel of vicious white men who gain a place in the Nation. These have no business there. None are to be permitted to remain in the Nation, but under a written permit from the Agent; which permit is to be revoked, when good behavior is lost sight of, and not to be given except when the party is known to be of good character. White men married to Indians, and who consequently by their regulations are entitled to residence, are not to be considered as requiring permits from you. But even these, when found to be disorganizers and seeking to thwart the policy and views of the Government, must be reported to this Department; with the circumstances of their conduct, and an order will be forthwith given to remove them from the Nation.
How can the Indians expect to remain where they are? They are surrounded by the whites. They are within the limits and jurisdiction of a State, whose laws may at any time be extended over them, nor can the General Government here prevent it, because they have not the Constitutional power to prevent it. But beyond the Mississippi this government will possess the power, and can exercise it. It will be disposed, when there settled, to molest or disturb them no more, but leave them and their children at peace, and in repose forever. They will be interrupted by no one. The tribes that shall go there and enter into peace and fellowship with us, truly and in sincerity, will have none to disturb or make them afraid, because their enemies would be our enemies. The U. States would not look with indifference upon any tribe making war upon another, but viewing the quiet and happiness of the whole, would with paternal care consult and maintain the interest of the whole. It is desired and directed that you constantly, in all our intercourse with the Indians urge upon them the utter inability of their Great Father to prevent the State of Mississippi from extending their laws over their country, and of his warmest desire, as well for the interest and happiness of his red and white children, that they shall make up their minds to remove and become settled in the west. You are requested to be vigilant and active in enlightening the minds of the Choctaw Indians upon this subject, that they ma understand the opinions of their Great Father. He wishes them at some convenient and early time to meet in Council, and he will, on learning their wishes, send some confidential friend amongst them, to agree upon a treaty by which the whole nation shall go off together, except those who shall prefer to remain and come under the laws of the States.
The Seal of the War Department is attached,that it may be known that these remarks emanate from their Great Father.
Jno. H. Eaton.'
After Col. Ward sat down. Col. Folsom requested him t leave the paper with the Council, saying, that 'red men never understand in a short time.' The request was granted. He then made two inquiries.
1. Did this letter come from our Great Father himself?- Answer by Col. Ward. It came from our Great Father.
2. Some persons have said sometimes, that the Chiefs who are sons of white men, wish to sell their country, and some have said that the Christian people in the Nation wish for the same thing. Have they had anything to do in obtaining this letter?- Answer by Col. Ward. 'Nothing that I know of. It expresses the thoughts of the President himself.'
Col. Folsom then said, 'I asked these questions, not because I thought so, but to satisfy the minds of all the people under this Council House.' Col. Ward then mentioned that he should be glad to receive an answer in writing from the Council before they should disperse. On Saturday the 17th Col. Folsom delivered to Col. Ward the following speech, in answer to his communication :-
'Two or three days since, a talk which came from the white house, was delivered to us. We sat and heard it- It came from our Great Father. He says that he has heard that there are bad white men among us, who prevent our moving to the West of the Mississippi, by their bad counsel. We do not know that it is so. There are old men residing among us, who he married Choctaw women. They take no part in our Councils. They have no concern in them. There are some white men who sit near the edges of our country, who steal our horses, cattle and hogs, who lay whiskey there. These rob us and impoverish us. It may be that they have said something to prevent our removing to the West, which has been reported to our Great Father. We do not know. Some of these men of ruin, sometimes come into our country. Here sits Col. Ward, the white man king. If he discover them he will drive them out. If he do not discover them, we will tell him. If he need help, we the chiefs, captains and warriors, will help him to remove them. Concerning the good white men among us, for whom Col. Ward will make a letter, we have nothing to say. We fear nothing from them. This is understood by all the headmen and warriors present, in this white house. To those who are not here we will give information . So that all shall understand this Talk. This is all I have to say upon this subject.
We do not wish to sell our lands and remove. This land our Great Father above gave us. We stand on it. We stood on it before the white man came to the edge of the American land. We sit on it still. It belongs to no one in any place but to ourselves. Our land is not borrowed land. White men came and sat down here and there and are all around us. When they have wished to buy land of us, we have had good councils together. The white man always said, 'The land is yours; it is yours, it is yours.' We have always been true friends to the American people. We have lived in friendship. We have not spoiled the least thing belonging to an American. Although it has been thus, now a very different talk is sent to us. We are told that the king of Mississippi is about to extend his laws over us. We are distressed. We the chiefs and the beloved men of this nation are distressed. Our hands are not strong; we are a small people, we do not know much. The king of Mississippi has strong arms, many warriors and much knowledge. He is about to lay his laws upon us. We are distressed.
Col. Ward knows that we have just begun to build new houses and make new fields, and to purchase iron and set up blacksmith shops with our annuity. We have begun to make axes, and plows. We have some schools. We have begun to learn, and we have also begun to embrace the Gospel. We are like an infant so high, who has just begun to walk. (Here the chief bowed and extended his right hand down as low as his knee.) So it is with us. We have just begun to rise and go. And our Great Father who sits in the white house looking this way, says to us: Unless you go yonder (pointing to the west) the white men will extend his laws over you. We do not say that his words are lies. We think they are true; and we respect them as sacred. But we are distressed. O that our Great Father would love, us! O that the king of Mississippi would love us!
The American people say that they love liberty. They talk much about it. They boast of their liberty. Why will they take it from the red man? They say they will make none slaves. We think our Great Father is true and good; and will not himself lay laws upon us. We think that the king of Mississippi is true, and that his warriors are true and good. It may be they will not lay their laws upon us. Here we have lived ' here we wish to live. But whatever the white man wishes to do us, he will do. If he shall will us to stay here, we shall stay. If he will us to go, we shall go. This is all I can say now. We cannot make a long talk. Our nation are not all assembled in Council. The chief of one district is not here. If Col. Ward wishes to receive a talk on paper, we can give him one in about a month. We wish to consult together, and with Col.Leflore,the other chief. After this, we will give Col. Ward a talk on paper. It will be a short one. In talking to Col. Ward, we consider him the messenger of our Great Father. We believe his words. When we speak to him, it is as though we spake to our Great Father himself. This is all I have to say.'
[This speech was delivered in Choctaw.]