Cherokee Phoenix


Published May, 15, 1830

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Extracts of a letter from Jno. L. Allen, sub-agent for Chickasaws, dated 7th February, 1830,

'In conformity with yours of the 29th February, to give the Department of War the information of which I may be in possession, touching the condition of the Indians within the Chickasaw agency.

'They (the Chickasaws) have a plenty of horses of a superior quality, or at least well adapted to the use of the Indians; they use them on their farms with much less food than is generally given those animals that are raised and used by the whites; and when travelling through their country, they travel from thirty to fifty miles per day; never feed them, but let them subsist entirely on what grass or cane they can procure for themselves when hobbled out at a night.

'They have large herds of cattle, swine, sheep, and goats, and poultry of ever description that are in use generally, in that section of country. The country is well watered, and is well adapted to the culture of cotton, corn, wheat, oats, peas, potatoes, beans, 'c.

Cotton, beef, and pork, are the principal articles for transportation. There will be cotton exported from the nation this year, probably to the amount of 1000 bales; beef and pork to n inconsiderable amount.

'The proceeds from the sales of cotton, horses, beef, cattle, hogs, 'c. after retaining a sufficiency for their home consumption, is generally applied to the purchase of necessaries and luxuries of life; to wit: slaves, sugar, and coffee; as well as dry goods of various descriptions, which are calculated to render them comfortable, and ornament their persons. The time has come when they no longer depend on the rifle for support, but it is used more for their recreation and amusement, then for the means of sustenance.

'Every family cultivates the earth more or less, as his thirst for gain, or his imaginary or real wants increase.

'Much to the honor of the Chickasaws, for the last eight years, the practice of the men requiring the women to perform all the labor in the fields is much changed; the men now, (with a few exceptions) cultivate the earth themselves, while the female part of the family is engaged in their household affairs. They spin, weave, make their own clothing, milk cows, make butter, cheese, 'c. They keep themselves decent and clean, and, in many instances, particular attention is paid to fashions that are in use by the whites.

'It is their constant practice to appear in their best apparel at their public meetings, also, when they visit the country villages in the white settlements.

'Many of the Chickasaws profess Christianity. I attended a Camp meeting in November last, at the missionaries; divine worship was performed alternately by the white and red men, in the English and Indian languages; and, for the first time, I saw the sacrament taken by the Indians. Everything was conducted with the utmost good order and decorum.

'As a nation, the men are brave and honest. The women (the half-breeds in particular) are beautiful and virtuous; and, I am of the opinion that there has been greater advancements in civilization, in the last eight years, than there was in twenty previous.

'I think the present state of education does not meet the wishes or expectations of the chiefs and headmen of the nation.

'Education is confined generally to the half-breeds and youths generally of the first promise. There are, at this time, several white men that have identified themselves with the Indians, by marriage, and several half-breeds that have sufficient education to enable them to transact a considerable portion of the business for the nation.

'The municipal laws of the Chickasaws consists in written laws or resolutions, commanding that which is right ' prohibiting that which they conceive to be wrong. Their laws are few, easily understood, and rigidly enforced, and are highly calculated to promote peace and good order among themselves.

'As I have already mentioned the state of agriculture, I have only now to say something on the subject of the mechanic arts, the knowledge of which is confined to white men that have identified themselves with the Indians, particularly of the highest grade proposed among them; to wit: house carpenters, wheelwrights, millwrights, blacksmiths, 'c. All the arts necessary for farming use, stocking plows, halving axes, hoes, making slides, truck wheels, draw bars, gates, 'c. is generally confined to the common Indians and slaves.

'The Chickasaws being surrounded by the white inhabitants, I have found it a difficult matter to restrain the whites from violating the intercourse law, by driving their stock over the line upon the Indian land, making settlements, trading with the Indians in a manner that is prohibited by law, as well as stealing their negroes, horses, cattle, 'c.; but I am proud to have it in my power to say that those white persons who are so troublesome to the Indians are generally men of the lowest grade ' dregs of society. such men as are always unwilling to conform to the laws that govern the civilized world.'

'They, (the principal chiefs) stated that if the laws were extended over them, they had no belief that they would be placed upon an equal footing with the whites; and, if they were made so by law, all the officers of the law would be composed of white men; and, as they were unskilled in law suits, and the whites would be partial to each other, they had no belief that they would be able to withstand the encroachments of the whites upon them; and, if they did attempt it, that in a few years they would not have a vestige of property left, consequently they would exchange their country for any they could get, rather than, as they conceive, lose their native freedom.'