Cherokee Phoenix


Published August, 31, 1833

Page 2 Column 1a


From the New York American.

_______, Alabama, July ______,

You have probably seen in the public prints that the Government have been making another fruitless effort to conclude a Treaty with the Creek Indians, for the final cession of their lands in this State, (Alabama) with the benevolent object of removing them to Arkansas, beyond the sphere of State jurisdiction and the operation of those laws which already press very heavily upon them, and will undoubtedly, in the course of a very few years reduce this once powerful tribe to a state of utter misery and destitution. The manner in which the views of the General Government have been thwarted, is described below, in a letter supposed dropped on the Council Ground by one of the numerous throng of sharpers and speculators that were in attendance: the facts selected may be relied on as authentic. I know of no medium through which this information may be conveyed, preferable to the columns of your excellent paper. ALPHA.

Some suggestions as to the best and most speedy modes of acquiring property upon the Indian frontier, having especial reference to the Creek Nation, whose territory was lately (1832) ceded to the United States.

Imprimis, Organize companies or associations, as numerous as possible, to purchase lands or other property from the ignorant savages, appoint agents, or managers, and let them have stores in the Indian country. 2d. Then let the company place their joint funds in the hands of these agents, with power to make all contracts, and pay the Indians in goods at high prices, say from 80 to 100 per cent above cost. Allow these agents to give their own notes, in their own names, not in that of the Company) for part or the whole price of the property they may purchase, and have other emissaries, (inferior, because less paid than the first mentioned) at hand, to depreciate and undervalue the agent's note, as soon as convenient after they are received by the Indian vender, and to purchase them at the lowest possible price. The lowest heard of is a note purporting to be for $100, and which was purchased of the Indian holder for 12 1/2 cent!* 3d. Take a receipt for (as the Indian believes) a small sum advanced, as part payment for his reserve, but make it include the whole consideration stipulated to be paid for it. An example of this mode of acquiring lands, is as follows:- a person was to pay an Indian $166 for a half section, (320 acres). He paid $3, and took the Indian's receipt for $160 +.

4. Another good mode is to take an Indian's bond to make over his reserve to you; let the bond be made as binding as possible on the Indian to perform his part of the contract, but be careful not to inform him of its conditions, or the ready means (through the State laws) for enforcing it. Next proceed to purchase as many Reservations of land as possible at a high average price, say $600 the half section, (a high price must be pretended to be given, in order to impress the Government or its agents with the idea that the transaction is perfectly fair) and give your note, if anything, for the consideration money. But when the purchaser has and character to lose, let the contract be made in another's name, who is insolvent both in character and purse, and let it be a condition in the note, that if the Reservation be granted to the Indian, and the land should be worth it, the price stipulated shall be paid; but if not, that the land shall be valued. The consequence is evident; in any case the land will be valued at a very low price by your white friends, and you will have to pay but little for it; or should you think it proper not to pay the Indian anything, either plead insolvency or say that the note has been paid; be under no fears for the result, as the Indians are incompetent with esses (sic) against the whites.

5. Still another plan is to raise claims against Indians who live within the jurisdiction as a Justice of the Peace; then lug him before him. If possible let the Justice reside in Pike or Barbour County, Ala., as the minions of the law in those counties have great and deserved reputation for their skill in these matters. It is immaterial whether the Indian is worth anything or not; obtain a 'judgment' in your favor. This can be done very easily, as in one case purporting to be for $49 75, the upright justice taxed the 'costs' at $38,++ being fourfold! then send out a Constable to levy on the property of any Indian he finds. I have before stated that Indians are incompetent witnesses, and are seldom able to 'prove property,' which requires white testimony, and therefore cannot redress their wrong, as some squeamish people fancy them, as if an Indian savage could have any rights! But to recur to the levying system. I will relate an instance which I witnessed the other day. A white man had a note, good or bad, against an Indian man, for some 10 or 20 dollars. The Indian was absent, and had no property. Did the Constable return empty handed? By no means: he seized a cow belonging to an Indian woman, and drove it off and sold it. To be sure 'twas all the property the girl possessed; but it matters not--she could not prove her property by white testimony--and therefore had to put up with her loss.

6. The next, and perhaps most successful mode is, to sell goods on credit at ten times the cost to any Indian you can, and then present your accounts to the Town Chiefs, and obtain motes or drafts for the amount; next procure an order from the Chiefs to burn the books and accounts. This they will readily give, as all Indians have a salutary horror and dread of any 'paper,' as they call it, made by white men. At the time f paying the annuities, or of disbursing money by the government among the Indians, present your account: if it is not allowed by the United States Agents you have a ready remedy by having a writ prepared, ready to enforce payment. It will not be considered amiss to make the notes or drafts for many times the amount stated to the Chiefs, as the sum for which the note is made. The Indians cannot read; and as you of course will have none other than friends, if any one present, they will keep secret.

7. Another easy way is to pretend great friendship towards the Red people, and procure what the Indian thinks is a 'power of attorney' to attend to his business with the whites; but let the supposed power be his 'deed' or 'bill of sale' for land or negroes. This has been done with signal success in many instances. N.B. The best and safest agents to employ in this business are the Indian negroes: pay them well and they will work well: besides, they have no silly notions of honesty, 'c. and their evidence is not valid in law. And,

8. Another approved plan is to bribe the Chiefs to make notes or drafts on their people, and agree to give them a part of the money when collected. Let all those who are engaged in any of the aforementioned practices keep a sharp look out, and if they discover any white person about who is disposed to put the Indian on their guard against their philanthropic intentions, send out agents (the Indian negroes make excellent ones) and warn the red people to be ware of him as he come among them to swindle them, 'c.

9. And lastly. Above all things, inculcate strenuously upon the minds of the Indians that they must not emigrate or sell their lands to the United States, that the General Government only wishes to cheat them and they (the speculators) will take good care of them, and support them, 'c, 'c.

I had almost forgotten a very pleasant and efficient way of facilitating your views; it is this: provide a dark haired black-eyed damsel, to solace your leisure hours, and you acquire the character of an 'Indian Countryman,' and in right of your wife can claim Reserves from the State, and thus combine profit and pleasure.

Lest my friend, you may think any of the above practices at all illegal, you have a salvo for your conscience, (a foolish thing by the way) in considering that you are borne out and encouraged in them by State enactments; for, owing to the ignorance of the Indians, their incompetency as witnesses in any suit in which a white man is concerned, and their consequent inability to assert their rights, these enactments must be considered as a legislative sanction of speculations upon them.

The above suggestions point out the most direct way to acquire fortunes without labor, and without any silly qualms of conscience for, as the red man is our enemy, the sooner he is exterminated, or put out of the pale of society no matter by what means, (for the end sanctifies them,_) the better for all.

Yours truly,

John Wideawake

To Mr. Inexperience Shaper (sic).


* A fact

+ This actually occurred

++ Fact-and can be proved