Cherokee Phoenix

From the Boston Traveller

Published December, 17, 1831

Page 3 Column 2b

From the Boston Traveller.


Let me not be told that the Indians are too dark and fierce to be affected by generous and noble sentiments. I will not believe it. Magnanimity can never be lost on a nation which has produced an Alknomak, a Logan, and a Pocahontas.

Not many months since, I took an evening ramble upon the banks of one of those small lakes with which the western part of the state of New York is so bountifully supplied. The scene was delightful, and I had continued my walk far beyond what was at first intended. The lake lay in full view and not a breath disturbed its peaceful waters. Along its banks could be traced, cultivated fields--fruitful orchards and beautiful gardens--while here and there remained as sad mementoes of the past, a few venerable forest trees, whose trunks had as yet escaped the destroying axe of the woodman. To many it would afford the greatest pleasure to behold a scene like that of which I speak--to see the wilderness disappear--and the dwelling of the white man rise on the same spot where once stood the wigwam of the savage--but in me it awakened far other feelings, and with emphasis exclaimed-

'I like it not-I would the plain

Lay in its tall old groves again.'

My mind rested with melancholy feelings upon the scenes of cruelty which had been witnessed--upon the blood which had been shed, and the nations that had been destroyed, in order that civilized man might become the possessor of this soil. Now, the Indians have gone-nothing remains but a few outcasts to tell that such a people has ever existed; and even they, by their connection with their successors, have nearly lost those traits of nobleness, independence, courage, and hospitality, which were once so conspicuous in their characters. But, even now, if you wish to see these children of the forest in the light in which they once stood, treat them with kindness and respect--convince them that you believe in the truth of the assertion contained in the Declaration of Independence,(that all men are created equal)---convince them that you believe in the doctrines of religion which are held forth to them--and you will soon perceive that those feelings, which you had supposed were dead, had only lain dormant for want of an opportunity to display them.

While engaged in this train of thought I was surprised to see an aged Indian but a few yards before me. His tattered blanket was thrown carelessly over his shoulders and his threadbare leggins (sic) afforded but a slight protection to his limbs. He went by without noticing me; and seemed unconscious that any person was near him. But after he had passed, I saw him raise his eyes and cast them for a moment upon me. At first I thought his conduct unnaturally morose--but when I reflected upon the numerous wrongs which his nation had received from my countrymen, every feeling of surprise vanished, and I blushed to own myself a white. I stepped back, and put a small sum of money in his hand, which was received with mark of the utmost gratitude. His countenance brightened, and his eyes sparkled with joy. Such a favor, though small, was unexpected--he was unused to receive marks of kindness or attention from any of our nation. O! never shall I forget the mild and animated glow which rested on his features--and I should have considered it with millions, had all my countrymen been able to observe it. They would then have seen that an Indian could be grateful, and much of that deep-rooted hostility which is now indulged, would have been removed.

I have heard persons declaim in the most bitter terms against our aborigines; and assert that they were not possessed of one feeling of gratitude. But of all such persons I would simply ask, when was there ever an opportunity for an Indian to display such a feeling, which he did not improve? Yet, it may be said, that his whole character is cruel--that he delights in blood. In answer to this, I will quote a remark of DeWitt Clinton's. That if we have any regard for the characters of our forefathers, we shall seldom allude to this subject. Again it may be said, that he is malignant towards us. Even admitting this--is it singular that he should feel an hostility to our nation? Is it remarkable that he should look upon the destroyer of his race as enemies? If so, the Indian is wrong?

It is now upwards of two hundred years since this country was first settled by our ancestors. Then it was a continued wilderness--the mountains and valleys were clothed with forests--beasts of prey were seen from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes--the Indians delighted in the chase--they had no wish but such as was easily gratified, and were happy! But when the hand of civilization was spread over the land, the Indians must be hunted down--a price must be offered for their scalps--the deadly chalice was put to their lips--they drank--they were enfeebled. We took advantage of their weakness--we trampled upon the fallen, their lands were wrested from them on terms which they well knew it would be death for them to refuse. They left the graves of their fathers--the plough was drawn over them--their bones were left to whiten on the fields, and became the sport of the white man.--They went beyond the western lakes--but civilization followed them--they were there again persecuted-they looked back on the days of their strength--they lamented the changes they had seen-but they are now weak-and pant for the time when the Great Spirit will call them to their home.

Such being the case, is it singular that they should feel an hospitality to our nation?