Cherokee Phoenix

From the Missionary Herald

Published March, 5, 1831

Page 2 Column 5a-Page 3 Column 2b

From the Missionary Herald.



Anxiety Occasioned by the late Treaty.

The treaty recently formed with the Choctaw Nation by commissioners of the United States, and the dissatisfaction of the Choctaws with it, and the distress and confusion which it occasioned, were mentioned at P. 384 of the last volume. On this subject, Mr. Wright, residing at Goshen, in the south part of the nation, under date of October 26th, remarks--

'The Choctaws are at present in a very distracted state. They are much distressed in the view of being compelled to leave the land of their forefathers and seek a new home in the western wilds, of which they know nothing. They feel that great injustice has been done them. They say their land has been taken from them without their consent. In the Six Towns, which contain a population of 2,600, only one individual voted for the treaty. He was the principal captain of the Six Towns, and has since succeeded by his intrigues, in bringing over three or four of his captains to his opinion. In the Chickesabe, which contains a population of at least 1,000, only one captain and a very (sic) of his warriors were in favor of the treaty. The people are greatly distressed that their country should thus have been sold without their consent, by a few individuals. They have, since the treaty, appointed Mr. Nail chief of the Six Towns and Chickesabe. Mr. Nail is a man of mixed blood, has considerable property, speaks the English, and is decidedly in favor of the gospel. The change has been already favorable to the interests of religion.'

Under date of Oct. 16th, Mr. Williams, who resides at Ai-ik-bun-na, quite in the opposite part of the nation from Mr. Wright, makes the following melancholy statements respecting the effect of the treaty on the Choctaws in his vicinity.

'You know not yet, neither can you learn well without seeing for yourself, how dire are the consequences already experienced from the signing of the late treaty. It almost beggars description. Loud exclamations are heard against the treaty, in almost every part of the nation. An attempt is on foot to have it altered or nullified. Will the Senate of the United States ratify it? Surely they would not, I think, if they knew under what circumstances it was made, and how the common people feel about it. The nation is literally in mourning; and many of the people are now plunging first into the vortex of intemperance. This monster stalks through the land unmolested. Some of the chief men are absent, or soon going to select places in the regions of the west. All improvements here have ceased. Multitudes are so distressed with their prospect, as to sit down in a kind of sullen despair. They know not what to do. Some say, 'I will not go to the west; I might as well die here as there.' 'Some are for going soon, whose motives, I fear, are no other than to become savages and hunters. All is confusion now, and no brighter prospect is before us;- at any rate none that is near. But it is most painful, indescribably so, to witness the sad decline of religious feeling.--There is a very great falling off, even of church members, since the treaty was concluded. Indeed we did not look for so many spurious cases; among those who once appeared so well. But surely the Lord has a remnant according to the election of grace.' The language of this people generally is to this effect- 'I do not despise the gospel, or disbelieve your word; but I am so distressed with the loss of my beloved country, and have my mind so full of anxiety on this subject, that I have no room for any other thought. I can neither sing nor pray, and why should I pretend to do so when my heart is not in it.'

I heard old Tunnapunchuffa say just now, 'I have no wish to leave the bones of my ancestors, and go to another country. I wish here to lay my flesh, and go hence to my Father's residence above. I wish to trust in Jesus Christ alone, and to be holy, wise, good, and happy.'

I will add a few words which I wrote at his dictation, and which were addressed by him to one of his white brethren, regarded as representing all the friends of the Indians.

'O my brother, I hold you fast. I am a poor distressed man. Do help me. The Secretary of War came and took my country. I am in great distress. O that my Father above would help me, is my desire. I am a poor Choctaw: I have many people dependent upon me, and old people also. I am like a blind man, or one with a broken leg, as I have no means of going out of my yard. That is, no means of removing to a distant country, with his numerous and helpless family. If I leave my yard, I may die from exposure to cold and hunger, rather than from sickness. When I see the women and children weeping in sorrow, I am distressed. This I tell you.'

He then said in a kind of soliloquy, 'Brother white man, I never injured anything of yours. My ancestors never took up arms against you, but were always your friends. I am their descendant. I never injured you, or run in you debt a shilling, but have conducted myself properly towards you. True, other nations have fought you, but I, a Choctaw, have not.'

He then spoke of his progress in the gospel, or his religious course. 'Until,' as he says, 'the Secretary of War came and spoiled all my enjoyments. However, though some have renounced religion, I wish to persevere and be more faithful. We exceedingly wish to stay in our dwellings, and enjoy the gospel, and think of and adore our heavenly father. The messengers of Jesus Christ in our country are our very brethren. Their hearts and thoughts being mingled with ours, we are as one people. Therefore O brother, do surely help us. If perhaps we go anywhere, we wish to go hand in hand with our missionaries. If God does not suffer the white people to deprive us of our missionaries, we will never send them away. I send you a poor, but a true talk. O my brother do help us by talking to the white people who seek to get our country. I depend on you. This is all, my brother.'

In the midst of this effusion of patriotic feeling, as if despairing of all human interposition, and filled with agony in apprehension of being driven from the land of his gathers, and of the distress which was coming on his gamily and kindred, he broke off from addressing his white brother, and turned to him to whom the gospel had recently taught him to look for deliverance from trouble, and exclaimed, 'Jesus Christ, we will never break thy word-do help us.'

This man is a member of the church, and has been repeatedly noticed in the communications of Mr. Williams, published in this work, as an instance of unaffected and consistent piety. The misconduct of many of those who had previously been regarded as pious, and of some who had been admitted to the church, is not more than was to be expected. The fact that the portion of the nation which is opposed to Christianity, attribute the loss of their country, and all their present calamities, to the introduction of the gospel and the change of their customs, has subjected those who profess to be Christians, to much reproach and persecution. If to this be added the desperation, occasioned by the ruin which threatens to overwhelm them, and the great increase of temptation and diminution of restraint, it will be seen that young converts have very rarely been subjected to so severe a test.

Under the date of Nov. 8th, Mr. Williams has communicated some additional statements respecting the appearance of the people.

'Since I wrote last, I have had an opportunity to observe more of the effects of the late treaty, having passed quite through the nation by different routes, on my way to and from the meeting of the synod. Some of the Choctaws are recovered in part from the shock occasioned by the news of the treaty, and are trying to compose their minds to go to the west. Hundreds have already wandered off-some into their new country, some into the Spanish dominions, and some to other places. Many are compelled by famine to do so. Whiskey numbers several victims-five at least, within about a month. It was contemplated to send a protest against the treaty to Congress; but there is so much opposition to this from the principle chiefs, who signed it, and so much confusion prevails, that probably nothing will be done.- If a law the law of the state of Mississippi relative to the Indians should be repealed, and the senate of the United States should refuse to ratify the treaty, it is possible that the poor Choctaws might survive this dreadful convulsion, and regain the ground they have lost. But if not, God only knows when they will be quietly and prosperously settled.'

It does not appear that the Choctaws were at the date of Mr. Williams' last letter, any more satisfied with the treaty, or any less distressed in view of a removal to the wilds of the west, than they were at the date of the former. The first shock and the first effusion of feeling were past; and some began to reflect on what they ought to do in their unhappy circumstances; while others, rendered desperate, gave themselves up to intoxication. The fact is, if the treaty shall be ratified, and the process of removal goes on, their troubles are but just begun. The authority of the chiefs is already prostrated, and the door is of course opened for the introduction of intoxicating liquors, for quarrels, murders, and universal disorder. Corrupting, fraudulent, and oppressive speculators are overrunning the country. All industry has ceased, and all attempts to improve their condition where they are; for why should they plant when they know not who will gather the harvest? An idle, unsettled, and vagrant life will soon be commenced, which must keep them for a year or two, at least, aloof from all religious instruction or restraint. Soon will come the heart rending task of leaving the country to which they are devotedly attached, because the land of their forefathers and of their own childhood-a land which God gave to them, which long beyond all tradition or memory, their fathers and they have occupied and owned, and which they have never sold or forfeited. Families will be broken up and separated; the aged, infirm, and sick, the women and tender children, will be removed--upon contract--so much a head--four hundred miles, through a land of strangers, to their new and desolate abode, there passively to wait the further calamities, which famine, savage enemies, and diseases, occasioned by exposure, hardship and despair, may bring upon them. Surely no prayers and no exertions should be spared to keep this picture from being more than filled up. It is yet to be hoped that the threatening ruin of this people may be averted.