Cherokee Phoenix


Published March, 3, 1830

Page 4 Column 3a


The Massachusetts Journal, in commenting upon the doctrine of the present administration, respecting the condition, as nations of Indians; makes this statement:

The State of Massachusetts has not even to this day, extended her laws over the little remnant of Indians and half -bloods, who still remain within her limits, ' speak and read her language, although the line of their Sachems is extinguished, and all government, except by their customs, by voluntary compact, like that of the Cherokees, and by regulations, which at their special request, on the failure of hereditary chiefs, the state has occasionally made for them. It is but three years since I was present among the Indians at Gayhead, on the Island of Martha's Vineyard, and heard some of the most sober and industrious lament that the laws of Massachusetts were not so far extended to them, that no person could sell spirituous liquors unless he had a license: but without special enactment it was, and is, and ever has been perfectly understood, that the laws of Massachusetts never were and never could be extended over the Indians, few as they are, who remain within her limits.

These Gayhead Indians, although they are Christians, and have by voluntary compact adopted many of the forms of town government which prevails in Massachusetts: and although they see clearly and feel sensibly the need of some of our laws, are still so attached- even in their fallen state, their language gone, their gods discredited, and their chiefs extinguished,- to their ancient laws and customs, that they have not seen fit to ask nor accept a code from Massachusetts. There is a code in operation in another tribe, at whose request it was framed and enacted, which contains a provision that it may be extended over the Gayhead tribe, whenever at a town meeting duly called a majority of them shall vote in favor of it. They have not yet thought proper to adopt it ' still governed by their Indian laws and customs, hold their property in joint tenancy, are subject to no taxes but what themselves impose, to no military duty, maintain no highways, give nothing for the support of public worship, unless they choose, and hire an Indian or a white man, or either to keep school as they think proper.