Cherokee Phoenix

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Published January, 15, 1831

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From Poulson's American Advertiser.

A Practical Illustration of the Bill for the Removal of the Indians

It will be recollected by most persons who have paid any attention to the subject, that when the discussion took place last winter in Congress respecting the Indian Bill, one of the grand arguments argued by the advocates of that measure was, that these Indians, when removed beyond the Mississippi, could have a large tract of territory given to them without the limits of any state, and which might be permanently secured to them upon the faith, and by the most solemn guarantee of the federal government; and it was furthermore urged that in a remote location of this kind, and under the immediate care and protection of the United States, they would be preserved from the lawless violence and cupidity of their white neighbors, as well as from the jealousy and incessant encroachment of contiguous States. Notwithstanding however all these fair prospects and smooth promises, the Indians persisted in their determination of remaining where they were, undriven away by absolute force, and their friends in the general legislature, continued as firmly to persist on their right so to do. Bitter experience had taught the poor Indians, that these apparently advantageous offers might prove delusive, and that the proffered pledge of government faith might be broken at the suggestions of avarice, or by the still more alluring temptation of territorial acquirement.

It could not then, however, have been possibly anticipated, that time would so soon reveal the utter hollowness and insincerity of the offers then made, or that the distrust of these poor Indians was so well founded in justice and in truth; the following facts however will fully prove the wisdom of the Indians and show that their misgivings on that occasion were not misplaced, the statement from which they are taken, was originally published in the 'New York Journal of Commerce' over the signature of a 'Spectator of the late doings of the Commissioners at Green Bay'.

In the year 1821-2 a large number of the Indians residing in the state of New York, composed of several tribes, from the suggestion of benevolence, and under the sanction and guidance of the supreme authority of the Nation, went by their delegation and purchased for themselves a home in our North Western territory. The compacts being duly solemnized by the parties (the New York Indians on the one hand, and the Winnebago and Manomenies Nations, owners of the soil, on the other) were sealed by the hand of the President of the United States.

In reliance on the faith of these compacts, and on the pledges of government for protection, nearly a thousand of these Indians planted themselves on their new territory at Green Bay; erected houses and villages, cleared farms and made many valuable improvements, expecting to present inducements to all their brethren in the State of New York to follow them. But what has been the sequel? Why, it has been discovered that the North West territory will make an important member of the confederacy, that government had been too hasty in pledging that country to the Indians, and in as much as their title should be acknowledged, it was somewhat doubtful whether they would be willing to negotiate away so valuable a country; it was obviously most convenient to march and take it by violence. And so it was taken by a commission from the general government; ' to consummate that aggression, another commission of 1830 has just returned from the violated ground, and remitted their enactments to the President for confirmation. If these enactments shall be confirmed by the Nation, there can be no appeal but to Heaven; if the Nation shall seal this, it will be the consummation of their guilt and perfidy. And thus a full, fair and thorough experiment of the value of the faith of government, now offered to Indians removing from states into unchartered territories will have been made in less then ten years. Here then is a most portentous revealment of what the poor Cherokees may have to expect, if by force or fraud -- to escape from robbery; or to fly from persecution, they shall ever be tempted to rely on the protection of the United States, and remove to the Arkansas, or any other territory in our possession. The above facts then, as well as the attempt now making to break through all those bonds by which, we have so often bound ourselves to cherish and support our Southern Indians, and because their lands have now become valuable, to endeavour to wrest away their title, and convert them to our own use; affords a strong ground for the belief which we have long held, that whenever the Arkansas territory shall become desirable to the United States, a plea will soon be found, and a plan as readily devised, whereby the Cherokees (if they shall ever be induced to go there) will be again dispossessed, and once more driven forth to seek another home in some still farther region of the West. The writer from whom the above facts have been taken, goes on to declare that not another Indian in the State of New York will ever again trust himself to the faith of the general government; and that those who are now at Green Bay in consequence of the perfidy practised upon them, and their consevexation and trouble, are gravely mediating to throw themselves back on the charities of that commonwealth.

If however, they should not do this, it is more than probable that they may at last find that protection, which has been so unjustly denied them here, under the British government in the provinces of Canada. We know that when a large number of free coloured people, were on a late occasion driven out of a neighboring state by the most cruel and unjust, as well as unconstitutional means, they sought, and obtained a refuge in these provinces. Indeed the writer above quoted states, that when present a few months since, with the Chiefs at Green Bay, he heard one of them in public council recommending to all his brethren to remove into Canada, because said he, 'the British keep their faith with the Indians'; and he then 'quoted facts and adduced reasons, to which I passionately desired, but was utterly unable to reply: I had the privilege of speaking, being admitted to their council, but mortified, and abused as a citizen of the United States, I was compelled to submit in silence; for the first time in my life I was ashamed of my country; and in such presence. Before the Indian agonized under a sense of his wrongs, and giving vent to feeling which it is not in God or man to despise.'