NEW ECHOTA, Oct. 6 1832
(This is the date on the paper. It should read Oct. 27, 1832)
The General Council of the Cherokee Nation convened at Red Clay on the 8th inst., but could not proceed to business in the absence of the Principal Chief, whose arrival at the time fixed for the meeting had been prevented by the unusual and incessant rains that have fallen until the 2d. day of the session when he delivered his message which will be found below. We can make no remarks that would add anything to the merit of this interesting document. Its declaration 'there is no safety for this nation to change the relation it sustains to the United States on emigration' is entirely in accord with the feelings of the Cherokees at large and will be approbated by them. The council proceeded to the consideration of the liquidation of the expenses of government for the past year, and the election of Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts which had become vacant, by extension of the term, of the presiding Judge ending this council.
Mr. Elisha N. Chester attended again and laid before the Principal Chiefs a communication; accompanied by a letter to him from the Secretary of War, in which a hasty glance we had of it at Chester's he reiterates the argument heretofore used by government, and alleged that a crisis had arrived, which placed the safety and welfare of the Cherokees upon a removal west of the Mississippi.
This communication had not been submitted to the council when we left there. It was a subject matter, so dry, or unwelcome, that it had found but little place in the topics of common conversation.
These communications we hope to lay before our readers in the next weeks paper.
Some curiosity exists in the minds of our people, respecting the consistency and rectitude of Mr. Chester's conduct. He was counsel for the Rev. S. A. Worcester and Dr. E. Butler, when prosecuted and condemned in the court of Georgia; in their behalf, he carried their case up to the United States Supreme Court and from it carried to Georgia a mandamus for their release. This mandate being disregarded, he returned to Washington to take further legal measures in their case. While there, he was appointed by the President messenger to the Cherokee Council, to promote the humane policies of President Jackson, the effect of which had already been the imprisonment of his clients--our worthy missionaries. Our people think this was a smooth somerset, that placed him in the employ of two parties which they consider opposite to each other.
Mr. Chester appears to be an intelligent man, and may think his conduct consistent, while he opposes the views of Jackson and Georgia respecting the Missionaries, he may accord with them both since he is promoted to be a special agent to urge on us a treaty, but scarcely any appointment by the President could be more unpopular with the Cherokees except it be that of Governor Lumpkin, which he states will be made, if the council do not accord to the propositions of government and if the Cherokees treat hereafter they must do it through him.
To the Committee and Council in General Council convened.
FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS--You have once more met in your legislative capacity, for the purpose of deliberating upon the affairs of the Nation; and, to adopt such measures, as its interest and welfare shall seem to demand. Therefore, as a preliminary step, I will take a cursory view of such topics, as in my opinion commands your attention.
At your late extra session you deemed it impossible, for the people to hold the General election in peace, agreeably to the mode prescribed by the Constitution, because Georgia had placed her military array against the system; consequently, the subject was referred to a committee of the people from several Districts, who devised and reported a plan, for keeping up the Government of the Nation during the continuance of our present difficulties with that state ' which plan was accepted, and then referred to the people and by them adopted so far as I am informed, the necessity which dictated this scheme of expediency has been duly appreciated and the measure will be received by the people, thro' out the several Districts.
Whenever we scrutinize the acts of the United States Government towards Indians generally and especially in reference to this nation, we cannot fail to see, that, those acts have been directed by a systematic course of policy, adapted solely to promote the views, wishes, and interest of the General or State Governments, and, that those few acts of benevolence on the part of the United States for Indian improvement and civilization have been adapter only from secondary considerations, and more with the view to advance their own glory and national aggrandizement, than to promote the true interest and permanent happiness of our race. I wish not to be misunderstood. I make no insinuation that such feeling has always existed in the controlment of the actions of the General Government towards Indians. There was a day, when better feelings directed the helm of Government, and in that day, justice stalked abroad in the land. The features of the numerous existing treaties between the United States and this nation, plainly exhibits the ligament of our political connection and the stipulations contained in them, unequivocally recognizes and acknowledges all the rights for which we have been contending and by virtue of which the Supreme Court has finally decided them in our favor. The time was, when the intellectual capacity and habitual propensities of the Indian to receive civil and religious instructions and to conform to the habits of civilized life were openly repudiated as problematical and visionary--this formed the basis of argument for those who opposed the encouragement of Indian improvement. But no sooner than the surrounding States becoming coterminous with the locality of our nation, the intercourse between their citizens and our increased with such rapidity as to produce a change in the habits of our people which finally led to the establishment of schools in our country by individuals and benevolent societies; the great progress made in the improvement of the youth both in moral and religious point of view soon dispelled all doubts in regard to the practicability of Indian civilization.
Thus by experimental demonstration the argument of the skeptic has been prostrated, and the insinuating dissembler continued and brought to silence on this head. By the treaty of 1819 Georgia discovered that the United States had so firmly acknowledged the rights of this nation, and so fully provided for its permanent security and the final civilization of its citizens, and being moved by the spirit of cupidity and avarice she became extremely pressing in her applications to the Government of the United States, for the negotiation of a new treaty with this nation for an additional cession of land for her benefit; and the Executive of the Union being disposed and ever ready to meet the wishes of the State on this subject, Commissioners were soon appointed for that object; but finding all overtures unavailing, Georgia became more restless and clamorous in her importunity and openly charged the General Government with the crime of having encouraged and facilitated the progress of Indian civilization, and thereby teaching this nation how to appreciate the value of our country and the consequent inability of the Government ever to purchase more land from us. To this illiberal charge, Mr. Monroe, the then President of the United States, in a message submitting the whole subject before Congress, very correctly responded, thus-'I have full confidence that my predecessors exerted their best endeavors to execute this compact (between the United States and the State of Georgia) in all its parts, of which, indeed, the sums paid, in fulfillment of its stipulations, are a full proof. I have also been animated, since I came into the office, with the same zeal'- I have no hesitation, however, to declare it as my opinion, that the Indian title was not effected in the slightest circumstance by the compact with Georgia, and there is no obligation on the United States to remove the Indians by force. The express stipulation of the compact that their title should be extinguished at the expense of the United States when it may be done peaceably and on peaceable conditions, is a full proof that it was the clear and distinct understanding of both parties to it, that the Indians had a right to the territory in the disposal of which they were to be regarded as free agents. An attempt to remove them by force would in my opinion be unjust. In the future measures to be adopted in regard to the Indians within her limits, and in consequence, within the limits of any State, the United States have duties to perform and a character to sustain to which they ought not to be indifferent. At an early period, their improvement in the arts of civilized life was made an object with the government, and that has since been persevered in. This policy was dictated by motives of humanity to the aborigines of the country,and under a firm conviction that the right to adopt and pursue it was equally applicable to all the tribes within our limits.' After the submission of this message, the Georgia delegation waived the discussion and final action of Congress on the subject at that session; and during the next session, the President presented another special message to Congress, accompanied by a report of the Secretary of War recommending the policy of adopting measures for the exchange of lands, with the various Indian tribes, residing within the limits of the States and Territories of the United States, and for the general removal and concentration on lands to be assigned them to the westward and northward thereof. In the proceedings of the Executive branch of the General Government in reference to us, since that period, it will be seen that they have run counter to their former treaty engagements with this nation, having for its object the general welfare and happiness of the Cherokee people in the permanent enjoyment of their national rights--And with the view of giving effect to this new fangled system of policy, for changing the existing relations established between the United States and the Indian nations under former treaties; and to make the system a general one, Congress under the auspices of President Jackson's administration passed a law entitled an act 'To provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the States or territories, and for their removal west of the Mississippi.'
This act 'makes it lawful for the President of the United States to cause so much of any Territory belonging to the United States west of the Mississippi, not included in any state or organized Territory, and to which the Indian title has been extinguished, as he may judge necessary, to be divided into a suitable number of Districts, for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange the lands where they now reside, and remove there and to cause each of said districts to be so described by natural or artificial marks as to be easily distinguished from every other, and further, to exchange any or all of such districts so to be laid off and described, with any tribe or nation of Indians now residing within the limits of the States or Territories, and with which the United States, have existing Treaties, for the whole or any part or portion of the Territory claimed and occupied by such Tribe or nation-and that in the making of any such exchange or exchanges solemnly to assure the Tribe or nation with which the exchange is made, that the United States will former secure and guarantee to them and their heirs or successors, the country so exchanged with them; and if they prefer it, that the U. States will cause a patent or grant to be made and executed to them for the same, Provided always that such lands shall revert to the United States if the Indians become extinct, or abandon the same, 'c, 'c, 'c.'
It will at once be seen that by this act, every Indian tribe who may exchange for any of the Districts of land set apart by the President under this law and who shall remove upon it, that moment its national character as a distinct community will cease, and its relations with the United States under former treaties as such dissolved. Here then is a country in extent, agreeable to the report of the surveyor, six hundred miles long and two hundred miles wide, bordering on the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas spreading over an extensive prairie badly watered and only skirted on the margin of water courses and poor ridges with copses of wood, to be laid off into districts of various dimensions according to the contracts to be made with several Tribes of Indians, and to be assigned to and occupied by some fifteen or twenty different tribes, and all speaking different languages, and cherishing a variety of habits and customs, a portion civilized another half civilized and others uncivilized. And these congregated tribes of Indians to be regulated under one General Government; by no doubt, white rulers-but whether Congress is to be employed in digesting a municipal code of laws for them, and in mending it from session to cession (sic) or whether the President of the U. States, is to be sole legislator or whether the business is to be delegated to civil or military prefect, or placed under the diocese of 'the Indian Board,' we are not told. But of this it is certain that the sovereign jurisdiction over the country is exclusively vested in the U. States and that Congress has not given the President any power to relinquish it, to the Indian Tribes or Nations--and should any tribe who have been located, ever become dissatisfied with its situation and remove therefrom, Congress can authorize it to be settled by citizens of any states ' by a late act of Congress three Commissioners have been appointed to locate the emigrants and to adjust the boundaries of the several tribes and other difficulties that exist between them, and the said Commissioners are also required to report to the War Department a plan for the government of the Indians. In a circular written by one of the agents of the U. S. employed in exploring ' surveying the Districts of lands assigned to the several emigrant tribes and addressed to the philanthropist and Christians in the United States, he remarks, that 'most of the Tribes are changing places ' are concentrating in one territory, where the relation which they are to sustain to one another and to the United States is to be new. Under these changes we apprehend a crisis in their condition, approaching, ' speedily it is to be made either better or worse.' Again, 'In a retrospect of three centuries, we perceive little else in the history of American Indians, than their decline and misery. In this state of things, their destruction being inevitably, in relation to them, notwithstanding the new state of things might be a MERE EXPERIMENT.' 'Hitherto the several tribes have not been united to one another, nor to the U. S. Here they are united in one common boundary constituted an integral part of the United States.' I have thought proper to make references to these extracts merely to show that in the prosecution of the emigrating scheme the policy of the United States has never been fully developed by these agents to our people, and that there is no safety for this nation to change the relation it sustains towards the United States, under existing treaties and to adopt the new one by emigration. In the present state of things, you can do little more by legislation than to adopt such measures as will be calculated to keep our citizens correctly informed of the true posture of the public affairs, that they may remain united in the support of our common interests ' national rights-also securing the administration of justice. Justice between individuals in their private transactions so far as it may be practicable to do so. Confiding in the justice of our cause and the righteous decision of the Supreme Court of the U. S. upon it, and also in the constitutional power of the General Government to have it executed--we cannot but hope that the virtue of the people of the U. States will ultimately control the faithful execution of their treaty, obligations for our national protection and under this reliance let us still patiently endure our oppressions and place our trust under the guidance of a Benignant Providence.
Red Clay Cherokee Nation, Oct. 10th 1832.
The following poetry was sent us by the mail, accompanied by a statement, that it was copied from over the door of Coque Betty, a widow living at the gold mines within the limits of Tennessee, and was supposed to have been written after a 'calamitous reave' by a member of the Poney Club.
We are glad if even one of the Poney Club pities us, under the many calamities they have superinduced, and has engaged in the more reputable work of writing poetry. For his political orthoxy(sic) we cannot be responsible, but as he has been accustomed to more injurious liberties in another way we grant him poetic license. We are not sure that a more hungry swarm of vermin would not prey upon his wild bird were it to fly over the river and that it would not one day be cooped in another undesirable cage.
For the Phoenix.
Copied from over the door of Coque Betty, supposed to have been written after a calamitous reave, by a member of the Poney Club.
Alas, poor Betti,
Small good ye get,
You live in anxious trouble:
Hope ye to hoard?
Makes still that hope a bubble.
With ruffian arm,
Or serpent charm*
Each villain, safe, here meets you;
The white man's laws
Each rogue here boldly entreats you.
The white's your foe-
O, Coquo! go,
Our vermin then can't grip ye;
If once you'll roam,
And make your home,
Beyond the Mississippi.
Go nature's child,
Your home's the wild,
The Indian here is droop'd
His doom's hero weav'd
Oh! I am griev'd
Thus to see the wild bird coop'd
* Having particular allusion
The State of Georgia is about to perpetrate one of the most shameless and atrocious depredations, that was ever committed in times of profound peace; upon any nation or people. Without awaiting the extinguishment of the Indian title, as pledged by the General Government to that State; -without regarding the existing title of the Cherokees- without regard to the most solemn treaties, guaranteeins (sic) forever to the Cherokees the occupancy on their lands, her Governor has fixed upon the 22d. inst as the day when she will commence drawing for our lands and gold miles by a lottery system. The progress of her iniquity, and our grievances has not been without our observation. We have been cast into dungeons there to lie, until some humane gentleman interposed for our relief. Our hands have been fettered, for daring to dig our own gold, and our backs have been scourged by weapons in the hands of the Georgia Guard. Our lives have been endangered, and some have been laid cold to rise no more, by the hands of the midnight ruffian. Our missionaries have been torn from their families, and churches, and schools and incarcerated in the loathsome penitentiary, and our moral and religious improvement has been retarded. The property of our ineffending(sic) citizens has been taken and continues to be taken by intruders, and without redress. What we have submitted to one calamity another and another like the billows of an angry sea has rolled upon us. Still our position has not been moved, nor not even by the appointment of that day when Georgia's honor was to be run through sporting wheel to enable her to seize our lands. We have looked forward to the crisis, when the President of the United States, would be moved by public opinion
to the execution of our treaties, and would restore to us the rights affirmed to us by the Supreme Court. But the President continues to withhold his fostering care of these rights, and refuses to fulfil in good faith our treaties with him. In the interim messengers and agents of the President have been arriving at our councils soliciting the exchange of lands, but we have as promptly refused. Animated by the justice of our cause, and confiding in the constitutional requisition and power of the government to restore us our rights, let us hold fast our religious belief, that a righteous cause will never fall. The drawing of the lottery and the settling of our lands can never convey to Georgia a title; it can be only a forcible entry, and illegal possession of the premises, and if persisted in, will certainly endanger the stability of the American institutions, and plunge the gen. government into deeper and darker chaos. To ward off this impending darkness a lowering on the present policy of the government, let us hope the good people of the United States, will not be insensible to a speedy termination of this unhappy controversy, by a restitution of the rights of which we have and may be deprived. In conclusion we have to state to our readers, that ere this time, the lottery may have gone into operation for the drawing of our lands, and a few days more, may perhaps disclose their seizure. But let us continue in the path of rectitude and peace, educate our children, encourage temperance, improve our farms, and sow quantities of grain for the subsistence of our families next year.