NEW ECHOTA. FEB. 25, 1832
We published in our last, the substance of a Bill passed at the late Assembly of the Legislature of Alabama, extending the laws of the State over the Cherokee and Creek Nations within her chartered limits. Had it not been that hundreds of the citizens of Alabama, having taken license from this law, and from a resolution adopted by the same Legislature, to intrude on the lands guarantied by the United States to the Cherokees and Creeks by treaty, we should have let it pass without saying anything on the subject.- As the question, on the subject of the States exercising jurisdiction over the territories where the Indian title is not yet extinguished in a legal manner, has been so extensively discussed throughout the United States it is familiar almost with everyone; and our opinion on this point is well known to our readers.- It would therefore be unnecessary to repeat that we have heretofore often said. But when we see numberless intruders swarming in, and settling the country to the annoyance of the rightful occupants of the soil, our treaties with the United States disregarded by the General Government-our lands and property taken away without our consent-our rights and liberties invaded and disturbed by lawless intruders, and that too, under the sanction of the General Government, to whom we were taught in earlier days to look to as our protectors, we cannot refrain from expressing our indignation at the wanton cruelty and oppression exercised over us. The resolution above alluded to is well calculated to draw the most abandoned and lawless part of the citizens of the adjoining States into the Nation; it authorizes all white men to settle on the lands of the Cherokees and Creeks without any right or power from any quarter whatever to dispossess them. From the license of this single resolution, we understand, that Will's Valley is now filled up by intruders; a great many are joining their fences to those of the Cherokees, others take possession of farms which may happen to be lying some distance from the house of the owner, without asking his consent. Others have threatened to possess themselves of ferries and bridges belonging to Cherokees, besides many other depredations they commit on the property of the Indians. And all this is done for what? Is it because the State of Alabama has a right to fill up our country with her citizens? Is it because that a State has a right to nullify treaties which are declared in the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land, and abrogate laws of Congress at pleasure? Or is it because the Cherokees are only tenants at will, that our country is now filed up by intruders? No. It is to effect the removal of the Cherokees and Creeks from their homes to the west of the Mississippi-to satisfy the avaricious cupidity of the States surrounding us, that the President of the United States withholds the promised protection. We shall yet, however, rely upon the General Government, to protect our country from intrusion and our rights and liberties from invasion by her own citizens, ' when we appeal to that Govt. we ask not a favor which may be granted or withheld, but claim a right to demand the enforcement of treaty stipulations.
To the Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix.
Sir- If you should, on perusing the following narrative, deem it worthy of publication, you can if you wish, use it in that way; by giving it an insertion in your Phoenix.
CURIOSITIES AT VALLEY RIVER.
In the month of August 1831, I visited Valley River for the purpose of searching for gold in the bottom of the River; and remained there five or six weeks; during this time, curiosity induced me to visit a place which I had often heard spoken of, as exhibiting the appearances of ancient mining operations. I was accompanied thither by a man who called himself a physician, by the name of Ezra Van Loon. Those mining appearances are situated on the north side of the river, and nearly a mile from the same; ' about half a mile from Willis' ' Co.'s store. We walked nearly an east course from the store and a short time arrived at a spur of the principal River Hill, and descended a gradual ascent in a north east direction. The top of this ridge is covered with Indian graves, or human skeletons covered with lose rocks; I stooped down by the side of one of these piles, and discovered through the crevices of the stones a human skull. A little farther on, large piles of earth are thrown up, evidently for the purpose of procuring ore containing some kind of metal. A short distance from this is a well, 5 or 6 feet square, and 25 or 30 feet deep. Not far from the well, is a canal or ditch cut through the top of the hill, which is 20 or 30 yards in length, 6 or 8 feet in depth, and about 10 in width. The Indian graves continue a considerable distance beyond the mining operation; and are so numerous that the traveller is compelled to proceed in a slow pace, which insensibly leads the mind from the principal intention of the visit, to contemplate the more awful and important picture continually presented to his view, and impending his progress. We walked 2 or 300 yards from the canal and then crossed over to the side of the principal River Hill, which is connected at this place with the ride we had just left, by an intermediate eminence.
Here we found a pit of considerable depth, and which I think would measure 30 feet in diameter and 90 in circumference. The quantity of earth thrown up, shows it to have been the operations of man. Two or three hundred yards from this, in a north east direction, are the remains of a furnace, which is convenient to a small fountain of water at the head of a ravine; and is supposed to have been erected for the purpose of separating gold or silver from the rocks and less valuable metals. The sepulchral well, and pits and furnace, all exhibit a very ancient appearance, and all accounts given by the natives relative to the people who worked here, and the period of time which has elapsed since they left the country agree, 'that about one hundred years have passed by, since a company of white people came over the great waters in pursuit of gold and silver; and that they spent several months at the above named places.' An old Indian who resided in a few miles of the place, says that he is one hundred years old; and when he was a very little boy, a large company of white men manufactured lead ' gave it to the inhabitants; and after their departure, his father, who had conceived a great friendship towards the mining company requested, 'that after his decease, his body should be deposited in the canal made by the whites.' Accordingly, his request was complied with; and his remains are now moldering in a grave which was dug to satiate the avaricious desires of the white man.
This company, the old Indian, in the honesty of his heart, and simplicity of his nature, was induced to love and respect, merely because they gave him a small quantity of lead, which they separated from the more precious metals of which they were in search; and from that soil, which from time immemorial, had been in the peaceable possession of the aborigines of this country. The Company were separated, when they were at this place, far from the haunts of civilized man, and were entirely dependent on the mercy of the Indians; and yet, their lives were not taken, notwithstanding they could not but consider themselves any better than a band of thieves who disguised themselves with a friendly demeanor towards the rightful owners of the soil. Is this a specimen of savage cruelty towards intruders? This set of swindlers, have been traced back to Europe; and letters have been received by different individuals in the United States, from their descendants; in which were contained descriptions of the above mentioned mines.
The old Indian says his father used to speak in very friendly terms of the white men who composed this company; and said, that they often took each other by the arm as brothers, ' together smoked the pipe of friendship. He considered his white brothers to be a sensitive high minded and honorable people; whose exalted views of justice and honor, would cause them to scorn an action calculated to injure or oppress their fellow beings, who had never received the benefit of education or civilization (according to the modern sense of the term) consequently entirely ignorant of the chicanery and finesse, which appears to form the basis of the politics of the day. My father, continued the old man, died in this belief, and his latest breath was spent in requesting that his mortal remains should be deposited and enveloped in the soil which had been trodden by his white brothers. But alas! continued he: these favorable impressions implanted in my mind by my aged sire, and which I for many years cherished; like the baseless fabric of a vision have passed away. The scales have dropped from my eyes; and I have long since discovered, that the means by which my father's affection was gained, were elicited by low, sordid, ' avaricious designs. How painful ' how disagreeable are the sensations produced on the mind, by the perfidy ' treachery of these whom we once loved and respected! The old man here paused to wipe away the tears which were flowing down the deep worn furrows, inflicted by time; ' which aided by the pale and wan appearance of his face, gave him a peculiarly interesting aspect. On his features were severally depicted the ravages of time, and a peculiar cast of his countenance indicating pain and grief; and that intensity of thought, which invariably characterizes the patriot suffering under the galling chains of tyranny ' oppression.
I now requested him to inform me by what means he discovered the perfidy and deception of the white men; for whom his father had entertained the highest respect and esteem. He looked at me with amazement for a few moments, without uttering a word; I conjectured his meaning and felt abashed. I felt the full force of the interpretation of the look, which might run as follows: 'Can it be possible that there is a boy of 15 years of age, who cannot answer the question? I apologized to the old man, for my impertinence in asking such a question ' told him that it was not entirely owing to ignorance, or a disposition to prevaricate in favor of my countrymen 'the white people' which induced me to ask such an explanation, but that I wished him to communicate to me, his views on the subject, for the purpose of gaining information. After a few moments hesitation he spoke as follows:- In judging those whom my father so much respected, I have only to compare their conduct with the subsequent transactions of their countrymen; and in doing this, I draw the following conclusions:- that when this company of Europeans, were searching for the precious metals with which our country abounds with knowledge that they were intruding and trespassing on lands which did not belong to them, and to which they could produce the least shadow of title; and surrounded at the same time by the rightful owners of the soil and intent in the pursuit of wealth; they knew that their only chance of success was to make use of conciliatory measures in order to gain the affections of the Indians. Accordingly, this resolution was carried into effect; and success was the result; a sufficient proof the savages (an epithet the great man of the nation are pleased to bestow on us,) have at least a small spark of gratitude in their breasts; and are endowed by their Creator, with a sufficient degree of judgment to discern a friendly from an unfriendly action; and to give it its just reward, as far as lies within their power. It is true, that we did not perpetuate their designs, which is not to be wondered at, considering that we 'poor savages ' were not accustomed in those days to viewing two sided figures arrayed n the garb of friendship, neither were we acquainted with any creatures having 'a forked tongue' except poisonous serpents; which are well known to sting those who extend to them the hand of friendship. These conclusions, added the old man, need but little to prove them correct. Take the conduct of the United States entirely and individually for many years past for a rule, ' you will find that the motives which actuated the Christians to conciliate the affections of the aborigines of America, soft words and fair promises, have had for their aim the possession of the Indians' lands. This rule must hold good; or this is the most degenerate age the world ever knew. The Cherokees were once a powerful people, but by confiding in the promises made by the whites, and listening to them with a friendly ear, they have become weak and feeble; from a dense population they have dwindled away comparatively speaking to a few desolate families. What produced this change? What contributed so powerfully in desolating our country? Was it battles fought in self defense, that swept our citizens away; or has it been done by the baseful influence of ardent spirits, which were introduced amongst us by the white people; the better to carry their designs into execution? Read the history of the late war, and you will find another cause which aided in thinning our ranks. The United States of late, have thought proper to throw aside the mask which she wore during the periods occupied in making treaties; and have stepped forward with the rapacity of a gang of wolves, and has discovered to the great amazement of the Indians and by others the distorted features of a monster.
Our Great Father, the reigning President, not long since declared, in the most explicit and positive terms, that he would protect the Cherokees; but `tis strange, `tis wondrous, `tis pitiful, `tis wondrous pitiful! A short time after this promise had been given, our august Father discovered for the first time, that he could neither protect us against the oppression of the State of Georgia, nor the depredations of lawless intruders. It is held forth by the President and other politicians, that Georgia, as a free and independent State, cannot be prevented from extending her laws over that part of our country situated within what is called her chartered limits. 'Her chartered limits,' have become to be very common phrase, without examining the propriety of using it. The United States promised certain lands lying within our nation to the State of Georgia, with this proviso; 'that said lands should pass into the possession of the State, whenever they were obtained from the Indian in a peaceable and amicable manner.'- Have these lands been obtained from us? And if they have, was it with out consent? Answer these questions correctly, and you will know to a moral certainty, the nature of the claim set up by the State of Georgia. Thus, young man, I have given you my views on the transactions between the white men ' Indians; I have not attempted to enumerate the wrongs and indignities which have been heaped upon our heads; that appears to me, to be a task entirely impracticable. The old man now left me abruptly; ' I found myself remaining alone to ruminate in the occurrences of the late interview. Is it possible, I exclaimed, that I am an intruder, a robber, a thief, and a swindler? Forbid it Heaven! I, that a few weeks past, could boast of the honesty of myself and family, have put a blot on the fair escutcheon of our fame, which will require years to wipe away; I will no longer tarnish the name of myself and family, but will endeavor with all speed to reform my conduct, and regain the standing I once occupied in the honorable and high minded part of the community.