Cherokee Phoenix

From the Encyclopedia Americana

Published August, 24, 1833

Page 2 Column 3b

From the Encyclopedia Americana

TSULAKEES, or TSALAKEES(sometimes also written (Tealagis) the proper name of the Indian tribe whom we commonly term Cherokees. Their territory originally comprised more than half of what is now the State of Tennessee, the southern part of Kentucky, the south-west corner of Virginia, a considerable portion of the two Carolinas, a large part of Georgia, and the northern part of Alabama. This tract probably contained more than 35,000,000 acres. Between the close of the Revolutionary war and the year 1820, the Cherokees sold to the United States, at different times, more than three quarters of their possessions, and now retain less than 8,000,000 acres, of which Georgia claims 5,000,000 acres as falling within that state, and Alabama nearly 1,000,000 of the residue. The remainder, if a division takes place, will go to Tennessee and North Carolina. Their population is increasing. In eighteen years, ending in 1825, their numbers, including those who emigrated to the Arkansas, had increased more than 7,000 or sixty per-cent, which varies little from the common rate of increase among the white inhabitants of the Southern States.- The number of native Cherokees of pure and mixed blood, east of the Mississippi, was at that time 13,563, and 147 white men and 73 white women had intermarried with them, and resided among them. The number of African slaves, was 1277. The population is now (1832) 15,060, of whom over 1200 are African slaves. Agriculture and many of the arts of civilized life have been introduced among them, and their progress in civilization has been very considerable. In 1825, they possessed 79,342 domestic animals (horses, cattle, swine, and sheep,) 762 looms, 2486 spinning wheels, 172 wagons, 2943 ploughs, ten saw-mills, thirty-one grist mills, 62 blacksmiths' shops, eight cotton gins, eighteen schools, nine turnpike roads, eighteen ferries, and twenty public roads, being a great increase above the returns of 1809. A well organized system of government has been established. The executive consists of a principal chief and assistant, with three executive counsellors, all elected by the legislative body. The legislature consists of two bodies, a national committee and a national council, the former containing sixteen members, the latter twenty-four. The members are chosen for the term of two years, by the qualified electors in their several districts. These electors include all free male citizens who have attained the age of eighteen years, except persons of African origin. The rules respecting the nature and powers of the legislature in general, are similar to those of the several states in the Union. Each of the two bodies has a negative on the other, and together they are styled the General Council of the Cherokee Nation. The chief and his assistant hold their offices for four years. The executive counsellors are chosen annually. The judiciary consists of a supreme court, and of circuit and inferior courts. The members of the supreme court hold their offices for four years. There is also a public treasury, a printing office, and a newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, commences in February, 1828, and edited by a Cherokee. This newspaper is printed partly in the Cherokee character, invented by Guess.* The press is owned and directed by the Cherokee government. They have founts of types in the Cherokee character. The Gospel of Matthew and a collection of hymns, translated by Mr. Worcester, one of the missionaries, have been printed in this character. Intermarriages have in many instances taken place between the Cherokees and the whites in the neighborhood, and many of the half breeds have large plantations, and carry on agriculture with more spirit than the full blooded Cherokees. There are very different degrees of improvement among the members of the tribe. Some families have risen to a level with the white population of the United States, while the improvement of others has just commenced. In general, those of mixed blood are in advance of the full blooded Indians. Not less than a quarter of the people are probably in a greater or less degree of mixed blood. The dress of most of the Cherokees is substantially the same as that of the whites around them. A great part of their clothing is manufactured by themselves, though not a little is of the fabrics of New England and foreign countries-calico, broadcloths, silk.- The greater part are clothed principally in cotton, and many families make their own cotton out of which the women make substantial cloth. Cultivation by the plough is almost universal, most families raise enough to supply their own wants and many have considerable quantities for sale. Suffering for want of food is said to be as rare among the Cherokees as in any other part of the civilized world. None of them depend, in any considerable degree on game for support. The Cherokees live chiefly in villages, and their dwellings are mostly comfortable log cabins, with chimneys, and generally floored. Many of the houses in the nation are decent buildings of two stories, and some are even handsome dwellings of painted wood or brick. Polygamy is becoming r are, and women are no longer treated as servants, but are allowed their proper place. Superstition is rapidly declining, and the ancient traditions are fading from memory, so that it is difficult to collect them. Conjuring, however, is still practiced to a considerable extent. In regard to intemperance, the Cherokees would not suffer by a comparison with the white population around them.-The laws rigorously exclude intoxicating liquors from all public assemblies, and otherwise restrict their use. They have among them temperance societies on the principle of entire abstinence. The civil officers enforce the laws against the introduction of ardent spirits, and fine transgressors. In regard to education, the missionaries is a report dated Dec. 29 1830 (see (Missionary Herald for March, 1831) state that they have the names of 200 Cherokee men and youths whom they believe to have attained an English education sufficient for the transaction of ordinary business. This number does not include females, and many men and youths who can barely read and write. An increasing anxiety among the people for the education of their children is very apparent. The missionary schools contain about 500 children, learning English. A majority of the persons between childhood and middle age can read their own language in Guess's alphabet, with greater or less facility. In regard to religion, the mass of the people have externally embraced Christianity; and there is regular preaching at several places, both by missionaries and natives. How far the schools and the preaching have been interrupted by the agitations at present prevailing, we cannot say.- During the two last years (1831 and 1832) the Cherokees have been greatly agitated by political troubles. Their government has been hindered in its operations, their laws counteracted by the extension of the jurisdiction of Georgia, over their territory; many of their citizens have been imprisoned, and the nation has been threatened with banishment. The missionaries of the board of foreign missions have been prohibited to reside among them by the laws of Georgia. Four of them were arrested in the summer of 1831, for not removing; and two of them, Mr. Worcester and Mr. Butler, have been, for the same cause, tried and sentenced by the court of Georgia for four years to the Georgia penitentiary, where they are now confined. The Georgians have made a law authorizing the Governor to have the Cherokee lands surveyed and divided by lottery. The government of the United States are endeavoring to effect the removal of the Cherokees from their lands by treaty-the only mode in which they can legitimately deal with them, as they have already recognized their independence by several treaties; and their rights under these treaties have been lately confirmed by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in January, 1831. The terms offered them are an extensive and fertile territory west of the Arkansas, to be secured to them by patent, and to be for ever beyond the boundaries of any state of territory, where they are to be allowed to exercise all the powers of self-government compatible with a general supervision of Congress over them, to appoint an agent to reside at Washington, to send a delegate to Congress, and to be recognized, when Congress shall deem proper, as a territory. The General Council of the Cherokees, however, have declined accepting the proposal.- The Cherokees of the Arkansas are those who, since the year 1804, removed, at different times, from the east of the Mississippi to a tract on the north bank of the Arkansas River, between lon. 94 degrees and 95 degrees W; population about 5,000. The greater part of this emigration took place between 1816 and 1820. There is a missionary station among them.- By a treaty concluded in May, 1828, they agreed to remove still farther west. This portion of the Cherokees has also made considerable progress in agriculture and the arts of civilized life.- For further information, see the different numbers of the Missionary Herald and the Cherokee Phoenix; the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Cherokee Case published at Philadelphia, 1831;) also Essays on the present Crisis in the Condition of the American Indians (Boston, 1829). For information respecting the language of the Cherokees, see Indian Languages (appendix, end of vol, vi.)

* The inventor and the invention are thus described in the Cherokee Phoenix:- Mr. Guess is, in appearance and habits, a full Cherokee, though his grandfather on his father's side was a white man. He has no knowledge of any language but the Cherokee. He was led to think on the subject of writing the Cherokee language by the conversation of some young men, who said that the whites could put a talk on paper, and send it to any distance, and it would be understood. In attempting to invent a Cherokee character, he at first could think of no way but that of giving each word a particular sign. He pursued this plan for about a year, and made several thousand characters. He then became convinced that this was not the right mode, and, after trying several other methods, at length conceived the idea of dividing the words into parts. He now soon found that the same characters would apply in different words, so that their number would be comparatively small. After putting down and learning all the syllables that he could think of, he would listen to speeches and the conversation of strangers, and whenever a word occurred which had a part or syllable in it which was not on his list, he would bear it in mind 'til he had made a character for it. In this way he soon discovered all the syllables in the language. In forming his characters, he made some use of the English letters, as he found them in a spelling book in his possession. After commencing upon the last mentioned plan,he is said to have completed his system in about a month, having reduced al the sounds in the language to eighty-five characters.- Mr. Guess was considerably advanced in life when he made this invention.