Cherokee Phoenix


Published June, 23, 1832

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NEW ECHOTA, June 23, 1832


Forty or fifty years ago, while living in their ancient rudeness and practicing customs which now remain only as vestiges, the Cherokees were accustomed to be addressed, when assembled in their Town houses, by certain individuals who were to be found in every village. Whether these individuals were a distinct class of men and set apart for the special purpose of talking, and relating traditions to the people, or whether they were nothing more than the leaders or head men of the villages, we are not prepared to say.

It is a fact, however, which many living eye witnesses can testify, in addition to many very interesting particulars (with which, perhaps, we may hereafter entertain our readers) related of these men, that they actually foretold the events which are now taking place in relation to the Southwestern Indians. It was their custom, on the occasions above mentioned, to take their station (some say they would ascend the Town house, wearing leggings made of dressed but unsmoked deer skin, and fanning themselves with the wing of some particular bird) and relate the traditions of the nation to the people.

The language they employed was somewhat different from the one in common use, many words and phrases being interspersed in their speeches which were not understood by the mass of their hearers, especially when mentioning the names of places where the Cherokees had formerly resided. They would tell of the events which had happened to their forefathers and would bring their account to that time in which they lived, when a new era in their history would commence in consequence of the approaching settlements of the white man.

In speaking of the future destiny of their nation, they foretold with a remarkable exactness the principal events which have since taken place in its history. This part of their address was something like the following:

Our elder brothers (meaning the white people-using the singular for the plural] has become our neighbor. He is now near us, and already occupies our ancient habitations;-but this is as our forefathers told us:-They said, my [our] feet are turned towards the west-they are never to turn round. Now mark what our fathers told us. Your elder brother will settle around you-he will encroach upon your lands, ' then ask you to sell them to him. When you give him a part of your country, he will not be satisfied, but ask for more. In process of time he will ask you to become like him. -He will tell you that your mode of life is not as good as his.--Whereupon you will be induced to make great roads through the nation, by which he can have free access to you. He will learn your women to spin and weave and make clothes and learn you to cultivate the earth. He will even teach you his language ' learn you to read and write, 'c, 'c. But these are but the means to destroy you and to eject you from your habitations. HE WILL POINT YOU TO THE WEST, but you will find no resting place there, for your elder brother will drive you from one place to another until you get to the great western waters. These things will certainly happen, but it will be when we are dead and gone. We shall not live to see and feel the misery which will come upon you.

Such in substance was a portion of their speeches and it is that which we have denominated prophecy- and as to the fulfillment, we leave it to the reader to judge for himself.

It is, perhaps, difficult to say upon what ground the foreboding of these untutored men were predicated. It will hardly do to say that they judged from the past conduct of the whites towards other Indian tribes, because they were in a great measure ignorant of the behavior of the 'pale faces,' except towards the Cherokees themselvesand there was nothing in that behavior, at that time, to create suspicion that the events which they seem to have foreseen would actually take place.