Cherokee Phoenix

From the Washington Spectator

Published October, 29, 1831

Page 2 Column 2a

From the Washington Spectator.

Part of a Speech of FOUR-LEGS, a Winnebago Chief (since dead) delivered at La Petite Butte des Morts.

[For want of a seat where I could write I got only the substance of the first part of this speech.]

He commenced by telling the Commissioners that when the Indians first heard of the treaty that they expected to be asked for land-but that the Commissioners told them at the opening of the treaty, they did not intend to ask for land--' finding they had told the truth, they greatly rejoiced, and he was encouraged--he felt emboldened to speak freely, and tell what was in his mind. He gave a pathetic description of their unhappy condition--the troubles in which they were involved by the wickedness of some of their young men *--and spoke at large of the looseness and inefficiency of their government; and in conclusion, he said:

My Father--What is an Indian Chief? He is nothing. When he speaks to his people, perhaps they listen, perhaps not; and if they do listen, they regard his words only as the animals of the forest regard the passing wind. But had he a voice like our Great Father the great Chief who sits beyond the big hills at the rising sun, then he would be listened to with attention, and regarded as the fire of the Great Spirit. Then there had been none of this confusion which agitates our councils--none of this distress which envelopes my people. Instead of that dark war cloud + which our father told us is lowering over our heads full of misery, the white flag of peace would be waving there.

My Father-- Good men will do right, even without a Chief. But what Chief can make all his bad men do right?--and where is the Chief that has no bad men? And now my Father, I want to ask you, has not our Great Father, the President some bad men who will scarcely obey him?

We know our Great Father does not wish his white children to take our land, and live on it without our permission; yet there are thousands of them now on our land, consuming our property, robbing us of our rights. It is this that has created this disturbance. Yet the Chiefs would have borne all these aggressions. Even for these things they would never have lifted the hatchet, neither would the young men, had the Chiefs been regarded as our Great Father is regarded.

My Father-- We desire peace.--What could we expect from war but ruin? We are very few. We are children. They lie, who say we are for war. In peace we may make out to live, but in war what would become of our women and children?

My Father---We desire peace, but we desire justice more. We want our rights. We thought our Great Father was just--we knew he was strong--and we hoped he would be merciful.

And now, my Father, we have to desire one thing--and it is the last request we have to make of you--that you apply to our Great Father to have his white children sent away from our led mines, and the country round about--that our peace and friendship may exist, as long as the sun shines, and the grass grows, and the rivers run with water.


* Alluding to the murders committed by them at Prairie du Chien, and their attack on two keel-boats on the Mississippi.

+ Col. M'Kenney, one of the Commissioners, had told them in his speech, that a dark war cloud big with destruction was rapidly rising and would burst with fury on their heads 'c.