Cherokee Phoenix

FRANKLIN. TEN. 29th July, 1830

Published October, 16, 1830

Page 2 Column 2e

FRANKLIN. TEN. 29th July, 1830.

DEAR SIR -- On the subject of removal it is a matter of regret to find, that with all the fair and reasonable arguments which have been urged, the Indians still manifest an indisposition to make exchanges of their land, and remove beyond the Mississippi. On the score of feeling and prejudice, some consideration may arise, as to leaving their homes, and retiring to a new country; but as it regards ultimate benefit and advantage to be derived, but title room can be left, for doubt to rest upon. The Indians would really perceive the force of the arguments which so repeatedly have been urged, were it not for busy advisers who without believing what they say, imagine and assert a systematic course of injustice to be intended towards them; availing themselves of this, the Chiefs omit not to practice great coyness and seek to repress every expression of opinion by the common Indians, in the hope that their own interest and fortunes may the better be advanced. From information variously obtained, there is little room to doubt, but that the greater part of the nation are in favor of a removal could they be at liberty to giver utterance to their sentiments. This privilege is denied: and such is the deep hostility affected to be felt, that punishments in some instances, has been threatened, and in others indicted, for no other cause than a free exercise of opinion upon this subject. This we have heard, and we believe it.

Under such a state of things and since the Chiefs will not listen to the suggestions which so repeatedly have been made to them, it would not be injustice, if the Government were to determine and way to them, -- We intend to make no further effort in your behalf; but leave you to live under the laws of the states, ' if you cannot do so, then remove to your lands west of the River at your own expense. And this most probably will be the final result of matters. On the score of rigid justice what claims can these people have to our magnanimity? A country larger in extent of equally good climate and better soil has already years since been given them beyond the Mississippi. If justice only were consulted, her language would be this. You shall not be forced from the lands you occupy; but being within a State, like every other citizen, you must conform to her regulations and laws; and if you cannot, move where you please, but as other people are compelled to do, pay your own travelling expenses and your own subsistence. Congress, at the last session attempted a fair experiment to ascertain the willingness of these people to remove to a country, where free from interruption from the laws of the states, they might be happy. If the Indians fail to accept the offer made them, Congress may probably attempt no further extension of their benevolence, but leave them where they are, under the operation of the laws of the state, or, if this condition of things shall not be found agreeable, to remove and defray their own expenses as our own citizens do. It is high time that some definitive grounds were assumed. The more you talk and persuade them to their interest, the more refractory they become; with a view to opposition, or in the hope of reaching a more advantageous bargain. So repeatedly have they been addressed and spoken to on this subject, that they are of the belief that the vital interest of this country, is involved in the decision which they shall pronounce. They should be undeceived: and in no way so effectually is to be done, as for the Government to withdraw from them every aid and assistance, of whatever kind it may be, except what is actually guaranteed by existing treaties. Let them stay, if they please; subject to the laws of the state; or remove if they please, supplying their own wants, their guns, kettles, articles of husbandry and subsistence. For any person acquainted with the character to maintain the feasibility of Indians living under the laws of the States, is idle in the extreme. It might as well as supposed that science and ignorance, and liberty and slavery, could dwell together. Every man in the country knows it cannot be -- the indian himself knows it. What then is to be done? Congress has given the answer -- Treat with them -- send them beyond the Mississippi. To those who would follow agriculture and industry the country given affords abundant resources, while for the untamed Indian who will not forsake the forest and the chase, game inexhaustible quantities can be found. But besides these advantages, which place them in an improved and benefitted condition, a further liberality is offered in the authority extended, to pay from the Government treasury, the expenses of their removal, and to provide for their support for one year afterwards, nor is this all! The land is to belong to them in fee, thereby affording an earnest, that they are to be again interrupted in their possessions, no more, forever. And is this injustice -- barbarity as it has been styled, such as it calculated to call down the avenging hand of an offended providence? Strike out from the act the word 'Indians' ' let it read that 'the poor people of the State who choose to remove, shall have equal, or better lands than they occupy provided for them -- that they shall be removed at the public expense, and provided with provisions until they can raise their crops would there be any thin in this to demand the avenging interference of providence? and yet, this is truly the picture as it should be drawn.

In future interviews with these people, your suggestions may be based upon the reasons which are here presented, that if though reflections not forget his nature, but at maturity they be not already informed, they may repose no longer in ignorance as to their true condition, and be resolved and prepared to meet it as they should. It is impossible they should be in doubt as to the course to be pursued. Enough has been said to instruct the most informed with the grounds of this contest, and lead them to a proper conclusion. To go, or to remain, is the question, and the only question to be decided; and whichever of the two shall be concluded upon, cannot require more argument, than already been advance. If what has been urged be insufficient, more need not be advanced. But under all the circumstances they should be left to their own time, to arrive at that conclusion, which reflection may dictate to be right. I am fully satisfied, that the more these people are importuned and reasoned with, the stronger may be their inclination to oppose, or else, to manifest indifference. Now that he grounds for a removal have been presented in detail, to stat fully the course intended to pursued in future, and thus to leave both them, and the argument, will no doubt, sooner than any thing else, bring these people to a knowledge of their true condition and prompt them to solicit terms; and not, as has been the case so repeatedly, spare the liberal offers that from time to time, have been made.

While an earnest desire was had to bring this matter to a close, and the better to effect it, that they should meet the President at this place. Nevertheless, if prefered to hold a treaty in the nation, such is the reasonable desire for their interest, entertained, that the course would, no doubt be accorded, to them. But before any arrangement shall take place, or any council be agreed upon, it must be distinctly understood, that their minds be fully made up and prepared, to assent to a removal beyond the Mississippi, until this shall be definitively settled, it will be unnecessary to send Commissioners, to interrupt them with any propositions. If a meeting should not take place before the next Congress, I feel confident, the President will no more offer any propositions, but leave them to take their own course, in their own way, and as may best suit their own convenience. When this shall be the course taken, they will not fail, through the exercise of their judgment, to perceive truly their condition, and be desirous at once, to decide what is proper to be done. The question in its simple, and naked form, is what is advisable to be done, and in what does their interest consist? This is the important matter of inquiry to be examined and settled. The one side of the question, when thus produced, will be this, and this must be their reasoning on it. One ancient customs must be surrendered, for the laws of Alabama will not sanction their continuance. Immediate execution without trial for no other offence than the accidental killing of an Indian will not be tolerated. The imposing of corporeal punishment at the mandate of some chief, for the expression of an opinion disagreeable to him, will cease. The rights of property will be respected, for the protection thus afforded by the community in which they live, some contribution in the way of taxes, will of course be required. In all this there is no injustice, no hardship, it is what the well being of society sanctions, rather than a permission for a mere self government, independently to exist, within the limits of a State. If the Indians shall be indisposed to this course, of liberal, free submission, the alternative before them will be that, which the law of Congress authorizes and permits. They may sell a country, which, by established usage, they can hold only under a right of occupancy, and receive in fee simple, another, which in all respects is superior to their present one, and which will descend to the posterity for all time, while they shall exist as a nation. From the burthen of removal, they are to be relieved, -- the government now promising to encounter the whole; to place them in their new homes free of all expense, and for a year, until their crops can be raised, to supply them with the means of living. This is the contrast which the 'Indian Bill,' as it is termed, presents; and yet there are persons to be found ready to assert, that there is injustice and barbarity of treatment in the measure. Can it yet be, that our red brothers have yet been brought truly to understand it? or is it through some practised deception; some motive stiring movement, that they do not? On their side are evidently all the advantages; not merely in the removal, and the means in effecting it, but in the liberal terms which they have been assured would be granted them, in the arrangement of a treaty. The opposition which is met with, proceeds from the Chiefs and leading men: for their who system of government, is preeminently an aristocracy, of high toned character. The common Indian without place, or the expectation of it, would prefer a residence more distant from the whites but of this, they dare not speak, a fell species of intolerant law restrains the exercise of opinion upon this subject. And is a government, such as this, where denunciation follows the mere expression of opinion, to be cherished within the limits of a state and the sympathies of the people appealed to, in support of it? The Constitution of the United States declares, that each state shall be secured in the maintenance of a republican form of government: but Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi are not thus maintained, if within their jurisdictional limits, they are to suffer the existence of a distinct, independent government, where actions and opinions are to be forcibly restrained, and without even the form of trial prescribed. If as by many is maintained, they can be considered independent sovereignties, it must be of unrestrained and unlimited character throughout their local limits. And if this be so, then any citizen of the United States, entering their limits, will be liable to all the brutalities of their criminal code and may be subjected to punishment -- who fire a gun which by accident kills an Indian, not seen at the time, may be put to death. The people of this country are surely not prepared to admit such strange governmental practices: and yet, these will be the effect and consequence of that argument, which reproves the course adopted by the president, and which concedes the right of sovereignty and self government to an Indian tribe, within the confines of a state. In Ohio and Kentucky dwell a religious sect of people, who claim no political connexion with the community in which they live: shall thy not assert, alike with our Indians, the privileges of self-government, apart from any interference of the states where they reside? May not the tribe of Red Jacket, (the Senecas), equally claim protection against the legislative enactments of New York and demand to be left to themselves, as to their forms and manner of government. Recently I visited these people: they lived with four miles of the flourishing town Buffalo. on polish-Lake Erie, amidst an intelligent and ed people; ' they are Indians still; they spoke not our language would not.--Some 40 or 50 in an humble clap board tenement (their Council house) were discussing the affairs of the tribe; a badly clad, and autre set, with loungers and listeners around, while at a distance, women were seen , exposed to the heat of the day, cultivating the corn. Whenever civilization dawns, the rights of women are respected, and where they are not, refinement has not come. The lordly dignity of man, which prompts him to the chase to the battle, as the only pursuit worthy of his nature, leaving the women to be hewers and drawers, is peculiar to savage life: and where this is to be found to exist, civilization is but in progress. These people have grown amidst a white population; have long had a missionary school, a church and preachers amongst them; yet they are not civilized, they are Indians still. What hope, then, can be entertained for our southern tribes, who are strangers to associations and these advantages, which the Senecas have so long enjoyed, without any thing of benefit to themselves, or even the promise of it. They with a detachment of their tribe, which years ago went to Ohio, becoming dissatisfied with their contiguity to the whites, are manifesting solicitude to leave their present, and find a new home.

It is at least but a Utopian thought, to think of civilizing Indians. Nature must first be changed. One or two generations at least, must pass away under a rigid culture, before these people can be much benefited by science and education. The wild turkey, though you shall take the egg and hatch it in your barn year, will see the tallest forest tree, at nigh fall, for his roosting place. Of this, there are abundant evidences. And what does it prove, but that the 'Leopard cannot change his spots, nor the Ethiopian his shin.' An almighty hind has stamped upon every creature, a particular genius, propensity and leading traits of character. The polish of education may improve, but can not change, for the imperishable seal is there; bars and dungeons, penitentiaries and death itself have been found insufficient, even in civilized society. society, to restrain man from crime and constrain him to the necessity of moral and virtuous action. How then, are we to look for, or expect it, in a community made up of savage and illiterate people? Theory and fancy may prate of such a result; but before reality gives impress to it, years must roll by, and a new and improved order of things arise. Then, and not till then, may hope, in her visions dream of success in reforming and improving the red man of the forest. Their improvement is certainly, greatly to be desired, but for the present it must be given up into the hands of care and time. At any rate it should not be assayed at the expense of the constitution, which secures and promises to every state of the Union a republican form of government within her defined limits.

The Chief Magistrate of the country is necessarily required to take care, that no infraction of, or departure from the principles of the Constitution shall take place. As matter of duty, he is bound to attend to the interest of the state, and be careful that with his consent, no cat be done which is not warranted by the authorities conceded to him. To ex expect then, the protection of the Creeks and other tribes, within the states, at the sacrifice of the sovereignty of the state within which they are situated would be idle indeed. Indian benefits out not to be urged at such a price.

It is important that our red brothers should know, and understand these things, for until then they cannot truly appreciate their condition, or determine what rightly they should do, as it regards their own interest. To make a fair experiment upon this subject, and in a spirit, surely of great good feeling, Congress at the last session made liberal appropriations, to enable such Indians as should choose to do so, to remove. The whole matter is now brought before them, and their interest, as connected with their removal has been fully and repeatedly presented. If on a full view of all the circumstances, this offer shall be declined, the consequence must be, that no further appropriation will be asked for, and Congress may make no more. The indians must then make an electual trial to live; if they can under the laws of the states, subject to, and bound by them: and if they cannot, then to make their way to their new homes beyond the Mississippi as their means and their own resources shall enable them leaving their lands behind to be compensated for or not as the government, controlled only by benevolence and justice may choose. The opportunity of making any treaty or agreement, may soon pass by. The liberal efforts which are not made being rejected or refused, the Indians must not expect that their interest will any more be urged upon them as matter of concern: or that the Government will advise them longer what to do. They must be left for the future to themselves, and to their own reflections, if now, they shall obstinately refuse to act.

Very Respectfully,

JNO. H. Eaton.


Cherokee Agency,

(via.) East Tennessee