Cherokee Phoenix


Published February, 25, 1832

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Boston Recorder prefers a very serious charge against our present administration of government, which, if the allegation is true, merits the application of faithless. We shall still hope that here is some misinformation; and not believe, until we are compelled to do so, that the Indian reservation west of the Arkansas Territory, is not to remain untouched by white people.'


Very well; we will do the editor of the Philadelphian the favor to 'compel' him. We must premise, however, that our charge is not that Government has attempted to purchase the reserved territory for 'white people'. An attempt to purchase it of the Choctaws for other Indians, is just as much a violation of the pledge in question, as an attempt to get possession of it for white settlers would be. We are permitted by the gentleman to whom it was addressed to publish the following specimen of the evidence that may be adduced. Coming from a man of intelligence and respectability, whose statements may be relied on as scrupulously correct, it is itself sufficient, we hope, to convince a man of Dr.Ely's intelligence and candor. The writer lives on one of the routes from the old Choctaw country, to their newly acquired territory. The distance by that road, is about 500 miles; and the contractors receive only $10 a head for the whole expense of removal and support on the way!

Extract of a Letter from a gentleman in the Chickasaw Nation, to one of the Secretaries of the A.B.C.F.MA. dated Dec. 24, 1831.

The state of religious feeling in the several branches of the church in the Chickasaw Nation is lamentably low. The expectation of a removal beyond the river seems to have concentrated every thought to that one point.- Even those who are determined to remain on reservations, as is the case with this neighborhood, are far from enjoying tranquility of mind. Judging from what has passed since the extension of the laws over the nation, they cannot promise themselves much undisturbed enjoyment. Instances of grievous oppression have now become common. One out of many I will relate, as it came under my own observation, and is of recent occurrence. A citizen of Mississippi, with an unjust claim entered the nation with a civil officer, and carried forcibly away property to the value of several hundred dollars. The Chickasaw instituted a suit, and recovered the property; but in attention to the business, he sustained considerable loss at home, owing to his absence for several weeks-travelled more than eight hundred miles, bearing his own expenses, and paid a lawyer one hundred dollars for pleading his cause. It is a fact honorable to the court which has cognizance of the affairs of this nation that in every case, I believe without an exception, the decision has been in favor of the Indian, who is uniformly the defendant. This however does not relieve the natives from the expenses of feeing lawyers and attending Courts.

A source of greater complaint and distress to those who design taking reservations is the smallness of the provision made for such in the treaty. According to an estimate made by two of the most intelligent men in the nation, each individual would possess fifteen hundred acres, if their lands were equally divided. In a letter of Gen Coffee, written shortly after he has assisted in effecting the Treaty at Frankling, he says, 'from the best calculation I can make, there is about nine hundred acres to each person in the nation.' Taking the estimate of the Gen. as correct, three of my nearest neighbors would be entitled as follows- The first in eight thousand and one hundred acres, and the remaining five to 6.300 acres each; as there are nine members in the first, and seven in each of the last mentioned families. But in the treaty all that is allowed to those who take reservations is three hundred and twenty acres to each head of a family, and that too at the place where they reside when the treaty is ratified. In a family of eight souls the quota of each will be forty acres. Add to this that they will be excluded from a participation in the annuities, which will continue to be a source of considerable revenue; also from the benefits of the schools which are supported by a perpetual annuity belonging to the nation; and from the advantage of an unbounded and unmolested summer and winter range for horses, cows, hogs, 'c. from the sale of which, multitudes now derive their principal support, as it costs them very little or nothing to raise them.

The nation has repeatedly, as I am credibly informed, demanded of the Agent a right of the treaty, but have received for answer, that his instructions are not to exhibit it, until after its ratification.

About a month ago, several hundred Choctaws spent part of three days in sight of Martyn, on their way to their new country. Although the contractor seemed to do everything in his power, to render their situation comfortable, there was still much unavoidable suffering. There were very aged persons and very young children in the company. Many had nothing to shelter them from the storm by day or night. The weather was excessively cold, and yet a neighbor remarked to me a few days ago, that he had noticed particularly and in his opinion, not one in ten of the women had even a moccasin on their feet, and the great majority of these were walking. An interesting girl who was formerly a scholar at Mayhew, sustained a compound fracture of the arm several days before they reached this, and was brought thus far in a rough baggage wagon. In compliance with our suggestion, a litter was made, and she was carried the remainder of the way to Memphis, on men's shoulders. On her arrival there, a gangrene has proceeded so far, as to render it very doubtful in the opinion of the physician, whether an amputation would save her life. They however, resolved to operate. The tourniquet was applied as near the shoulder as possible, and the right arm was cut off. Her parents were compelled to move on in two days, and she was left in the hospital.

A number of small companies have since passed, who were detained on the way by loss of horses and other causes. No provision could be made for these, and consequently they were, in some instances, very destitute. One party came to us and begged an ear of corn a piece to relieve for a season, their sufferings. Another party camped in the wagons near us, about three weeks ago, and that night a storm of hail and sleet commenced, which was followed, in an hour or two with a heavy fall of snow. For more than two weeks there was a continued freeze, and colder weather than I have ever seen in this climate. During the whole of this time, those suffering people were lying at their camp without any shelter and with very little provision. Much suffering was to be expected in the removal of the Choctaws, but if I am to judge from what I have seen and heard, the half was not anticipated.

You will probably have heard of the recent council at the Choctaw agency between Major Eaton and Gen. Coffee agents of Government, and the head men of the two nations. The object of the council was to purchase lands of the Choctaws for the Chickasaws, or to prevail upon the latter to renounce their character as a distinct people and identify themselves with the Choctaws. Both overtures were virtually rejected. In the address of the Commissioners it was stated that the President was convinced they never could live under state laws; that there were no unappropriated lands beyond the river, to which they [the Chickasaws] could be directed, and that their only hope was that the Choctaws would permit them to occupy a portion of their lands. As might reasonably be expected, this renewed application for land, so early and after so many assurances that they would be no longer harassed on this subject, has created a high degree of indignation in the midst of the emigrants.