Cherokee Phoenix

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Published January, 15, 1831

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THE INDIANS. Our readers will find much in our paper today, which may assist them in deciding on their duty towards the Indians. That part of the President's Message which relates to them, we have copied entire, in order to lay fairly before our readers, all that can be said on that side of the question. We wage no war on the administration. In many respects, we think they are doing very well; and in some things, for which they have been most abused, they have only followed the example of all former parties. There is much in the Message which we heartily approve. But on the Indian question, we feel bound to protest against their doctrines. We believe that the treaties, which this government has made with the Indians, ought to be fulfilled, as much, and as entirely, as treaties with England or France. We do not believe that the several states, within the chartered limits of which the Indians live, have any constitutional right to compel the government to violate its faith. Most of these states have come into existence, since those treaties were made; and the acts for their admission to the Union could not 'impair the obligation of contracts' between the government and the Indians. If they could, what security will the Indians have in their proposed residence beyond the Mississippi? We are bound, by the treaty with France, by which we hold that country, to erect it, the whole of it, into states, whenever the population shall be such as to render it proper. The time will come, when the new residence of the Indians must, according to that treaty, be included within the limits of one or more new states; and these states, according to the doctrines of the administration, may extend their laws over them, and Congress cannot interfere! The constitutional difficulties, if there are any, will be precisely the same as now. The guarantee cannot be any better than that which the government now refuses to fulfil.

One paragraph of the Message appears, to us, peculiarly unfortunate. The President says, of the removal of the Indians, 'The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations.' The government, then, has a pecuniary interest in their removal. 'It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments, on account of the Indians.' It does, till Congress, as bound by the treaty with France, surrounds them with new states; and no longer. 'It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters.' That country is said, on good authority, to be incapable of supporting a dense population. 'It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites.' Therefore unprincipled traders will be under less restraints among them. It will do this, till new states are thrown around them, as Mississippi and Alabama have been around their present residence. It will 'enable them to pursue happiness in their own way, and under their own rude institutions.' These rude institutions the Indians do not wish to preserve. It will 'retard the progress of decay, which is now lessening their numbers.' The only tribe in which an actual enumeration has taken place is increasing in numbers. It will 'perhaps cause them gradually under the protection of the Government, and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits, and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.' This is taking place rapidly where they are.

The President wishes us all to unite, in persuading the Indians to comply with his wishes. For our part, if the states, within whose chartered limits they reside, would furnish them with just and equitable laws, such as they could and ought to live under, we would advise them to remove to such a place, and under such conditions, that they shall not be losers, we would advise them to remove; for by so doing they would retrieve us from some embarrassments, without any injury to themselves. But we would remember their right to judge of our advice; and we would insist that they should enjoy all the rights promised them in solemn treaties, till they should of their own will relinquish them. And especially, we would not compel them to take our advice or do worse, by withdrawing from them that protection for which they call, and which we have solemnly and repeatedly promised. We would not withdraw it, and thus leave them to the operation of laws, under which, according to the judgement of all parties, 'THEY CANNOT LIVE.' -- Vt. Chron.