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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
THE advent of Mr. Monroe's administration, in 1817, marked a period of tranquillity in the domestic politics of the Union. Attention was devoted to the internal resources of the country; business, commercial enterprise, and science moved forward hand in hand; new and distant regions were sought out for agricultural and commercial purposes; scientific explorations of new territories were made; and geographical data were rendered valuable by minute observations on the natural history, mineralogy, geology, botany, and fauna, of the new countries. The growth, expansion, and progress of the Union, in all its elements, in a few years, were unparalleled, and the onward progress of civilization was never more accelerated during any period of our history. The Indians were regarded as a people who could not attain to a state of prosperity within the area of the old States, surrounded, as they were, on all sides, by temptations which they had not the strength of purpose to resist. They were, consequently, directed to the regions beyond the Mississippi, as to a refuge of safety and rest.
Chapter II. Official Intercourse is Extended, by Establishing an Agency Among the Chippewas, in the Basin of Lake Superior.
THE exploratory expedition through the Great Lakes, to the
from the narrative of Alexander Henry's visit thither in 1760, 553 we learn that a military post was still maintained there, to protect the operations of the Indian traders, and to preserve general friendly relations with this branch of the Algonquin family of tribes. The accession of the United States to the sovereign power in this part of the Union was greatly retarded. When the lake posts were surrendered in 1796, after Wayne's war, the American flag replaced that of St. George at Michilimackinac; but the authority of the Republic was not acknowledged at Sault Ste. Marie, and, in 1806, Pike found the entire Indian trade in the hands of British factors. The St. Mary's river and Lake Superior, indeed, formed the line of demarcation between the British colonies and the United States, agreeably to the original treaty of 1783, which was re-affirmed by that of Ghent, in 1814; but the line remained unsurveyed, and, consequently, many portions were disputed. Major Holmes, who visited the place in August, 1814, finding that the North-West Company, whose factory was situated at the foot of the falls, on the north shore, was exerting an influence adverse to the United States, plundered and burnt the establishment. The large private trading establishment of John Johnston, Esq., a gentleman from the north of Ireland, located on the opposite, or American shore of the falls, suffered severely at the same time; an impression prevailing that it was either connected with the North-West Factory, or that an unfriendly feeling was generated against the Union among the Chippewas, over whom Mr. Johnston had much influence. It was not until 1816, that Congress perceived that it was necessary to the preservation of peace on the frontiers, to pass an act placing this trade exclusively under the control of Americans, and forbidding its being carried on by British subjects, or the employment of British capital therein. The purpose contemplated by this measure was one which required time to accomplish. The Indians, being attached to the British rule, were slow to give their confidence to Americans.
The first important enterprise, in connection with this trade, was that of John Jacob Astor, of New York, who visited Montreal in 1816, and purchased all the property, consisting of trading-houses, boats, &c., &c., belonging to the North-West Company, located between St. Joseph's Island, and the parallel of 49° north latitude. He organized the American Fur Company, which established its central depôt and place of outfit, at
we have evidence that, so late as the year 1820, the Chippewas, from their ancient camping-ground, on the American side of the river, attempted to resist the passage of the exploring expedition into their country.
It was not, therefore, an ordinary task, to induce this important tribe to acknowledge fealty to the American government. Firmness of purpose, combined with mildness of manner, were eminently necessary. The establishment of an agency, a smithy, and an armorer's shop, the supply of food to them in their necessity, and the bestowal of presents, were important means. The display of so considerable a force on the frontier, as the garrison of Fort Brady, enabled the agent to act efficiently. By acting in concurrence with the military, an effective controlling power was established. Murderers of white men were demanded from the Indians; the country was cleared of freed men, or discharged boatmen, who had taken up a permanent residence among the Indians; and none but licensed traders, with their boatmen, were permitted to pass into the country. Ardent spirits were excluded. The remote chiefs soon began to visit the agency. The Indians are very fond of making visits to distant parts of the country, and are always gratified with the comity and ceremony of diplomatic attention. The pacific results of this intercourse soon began to appear.
The agent rendered himself acceptable to the Indians by other means, which were merely incidental. He came to the country with a strong predilection for the studies of a naturalist; and, as the natives are close observers of the species of animals, birds, and organic forms, existing in their country, by requesting them to bring him any specimens of this kind which impressed them as being new, he aroused their interest, and afforded them a pleasurable, and not wholly unprofitable, method of making their visits agreeable. Another cause of sympathy existed. Commencing, immediately, an ardent study of the language, it furnished a theme for inquiry in intervals when the details of official business had ceased to interest; and researches into their customs, traditions, and antiquities, were made.
The principal chief at Sault Ste. Marie, was a tall and dignified man, called Shingabawassin, a term (vide Plate herewith) used to designate a species of abraded stones found on the lake shores, which assume various imitative forms, and are connected, in their minds, with superstitious or mythological influences. His armorial badge was the Crane totem, the distinguishing mark of the reigning clan. Shingabawassin had, in his youth, been on the war-path; but he was at this period principally respected for his prudence and wisdom in council. He was about six feet three inches in height, straight in form, having a Roman cast of countenance, and mild manners; he was a good speaker, but prone to repetition. He had three brothers, likewise chiefs, and a large retinue of cousins-german, and other relatives, who generally followed him. The attainment of his good will ensured the friendship of the tribe, through whom an extensive influence was established with the interior bands.
One measure was found to be efficacious in establishing a systematic mode of doing
business; this was to exclude from an interview, and to refuse to transact any business at all with drunken Indians, and not to allow any one in a state of intoxication to enter the office, or the dwelling of the agent. As whiskey was freely sold in the village, intoxication was a very prevalent vice; and, when excited, the Indian is noisy, and will endeavor to force his way into any part of the private dwelling in which he may chance to be. The agent told the Indians in a quiet way, that the President had not sent him to transact business with drunken Indians, and that such persons must never enter his office or house. He enforced this precept, soon after, by taking Shingabawassin by the shoulders, when he was in liquor, as well as very noisy, leading him to the door, and giving him a sudden push forward, which prostrated him on the ground at a little distance. If the king of the Chippewas could be so treated, it was naturally inferred that the subject might meet with harsher usage. The resulting effect was that no further trouble ever arose from this cause.
Chapter III. Political and Social Movements Among the Cherokees, and Other Southern Tribes.
A GENERAL peace was concluded with the Cherokee nation on the 14th of September, 1816. 554
As early as the year 1808, the project of drawing a dividing line between the upper and lower bands of the Cherokees was broached in this nation. The idea promulged was, to erect lines of demarcation between the hunter bands and those who wished to pursue agriculture, and adopt a more regular form of government. A deputation of both parties was sent to Washington, to obtain an interview with the President, and, as they clearly foresaw the impracticability of effecting their object while they remained in their existing location, to procure his sanction to a proposal on the part of the hunter portion to emigrate to some part of the territory of the United States west of the Mississippi, where they would be able to find game in greater abundance.
On the 9th of January, 1809, Mr. Jefferson, who was then in the presidential chair, returned the deputation an answer, and gave his sanction to this plan, in these words:
"The United States, my children, are the friends of both parties, and, as far as can be reasonably asked, they are willing to satisfy the wishes of both. Those who remain, may be assured of our patronage, our aid, and good neighborhood; those who wish to remove, are permitted to send an exploring party to reconnoitre the country on the waters of the Arkansas and White rivers; and the higher up the better, as they will be the longer unapproached by our settlements, which will begin at the mouths of those rivers. The regular districts of the government of St. Louis are already laid off to the St. Francis.
"When this party shall have found a tract of country suiting the emigrants, and not claimed by other Indians, we will arrange with them and you for an exchange of that for a just portion of the country they leave, and to a part of which, proportioned to their numbers, they have a right. Every aid towards their removal, and what will
be necessary for them there, will then be freely administered to them; and, when established in their new settlements, we shall still consider them as our children, give them the benefit of exchanging their peltries for what they will want at our factories, 555 and always hold them firmly by the hand." 556
This sanction to the emigration of a part of the Cherokees, may be considered as the initiatory step in the plan of a general removal of the tribes from the old States to the westward of the Mississippi; one, however, which required the national experience of sixteen years to guarantee and fully adopt.
At the Cherokee agency, on the 8th of July, 1817, this measure received the sanction of the commissioners 557 appointed to treat with the nation. 558 This treaty made provision for the proper distribution of the annuities of the tribes between the East and West Cherokees, and also for taking a full and perfect census of the whole nation, during the following year. Other stipulations and agreements were entered into, discords of opinion respecting the faithful and prompt execution of which, have been the occasion of the internal dissensions which have distracted that nation. From the treaty concluded by Mr. Calhoun with the nation, at Washington, on the 27th of February, 1819, 559 we learn that the census prescribed for the year 1818 was not taken. New boundary-lines were designated for the Cherokee territories lying east of the Mississippi; a fund was set apart for the use of schools; and a division of the national annuities made; it being agreed that one-third of the amount should be paid to the Cherokees west of the Mississippi, and the other two-thirds to those residing east of that river. The stipulation that white emigrants should be prevented from settling on the lands situate along the Arkansas and White rivers, was renewed. 560
The Creeks had been, after a hard struggle, subdued, rather than conquered in the war of 1814; but their disastrous defeat on the Tallapoosa, at the battle of the Horse-Shoe, March 27, was so discouraging, that they did not again venture to assume a warlike attitude. On the 9th of August, 1814, 561 they signed a treaty of peace, with a feeling of humiliation and disappointment. This treaty was, in the first instance, subscribed by Tustannuggee Thlucco, and thirty-six of the leading miccos and chiefs of both the upper and lower division of the nation. During the entire continuance of the war, considerable feeling had existed among the Americans against the Spanish and British authorities in Florida, and particularly against the traders who had furnished the Creeks with supplies of arms and ammunition. Those individuals of the nation who fled to Pensacola, after their final defeat on the Tallapoosa, did not present themselves in the council which formed this treaty, nor signify their submission by sending
delegates to it. On the 6th of the following November, the southern coasts being then strictly blockaded by the enemy, the American army, as previously stated, appeared before the gates of Pensacola, and succeeded in storming that fortress. No further aid being furnished to the tribes from foreign sources, a general peace resulted. The stipulations of this treaty were subsequently carried out, and extended by another, formed March 28th, 1818, 562 and by that concluded January 8th, 1821. 563
The Chickasaws and Choctaws had maintained a position of neutrality during the war, but a few individuals of each tribe were present in the American camp during the Creek war; which circumstance furnishes a reason for the recital of the names of these two tribes, in the treaty of pacification with the Creek nation, signed August 8th, 1814. These tribes, as mentioned in preceding pages, lay claim to antiquity in the country; to which they migrated from the West at an early period, symbolizing the principal events of their history under the figures of a dog and a pole, or a prophet's rod. 564 The Chickasaw nation possess a tradition, which evidently refers to the landing of De Soto on the Chickasaw bluffs. 565
The treaty entered into October 10th, 1821, with the Choctaws, may be said to have inaugurated a new and important feature in the policy of the Indian removals. Heretofore, treaties had been made for temporary purposes only; the Indians consuming the principal of their annuities, and establishing no fund, which would be beyond the reach of agrarian distribution; paying also but little regard to their permanent welfare, or their intellectual advancement. This treaty would seem to indicate their apprehension that the pressure of the surrounding white population would render it impossible for them to reside permanently east of the Mississippi river. They stipulated that the same quantity of land which they held east of that river, should be given to them west of it, and its possession guarantied. This was exclusive of a tract in the east, to be temporarily retained by them, and divided into farms, on which they were to remain until they had attained a state of civilization and advancement in industrial arts, which would qualify them for beginning their western emigration. They were also to receive temporary aid while in their present location, and after removing to the West. The most striking feature in this treaty was the appropriation of the proceeds of fifty-four sections, each one mile square, of the ceded lands, to constitute a school fund. In the same treaty, provision was made for the support of the deaf, dumb, blind, and distressed of the tribe, and for the payment of an annuity to a superannuated chief of their nation, called Mushulatubbee. Power was granted to the United States agents, to seize and destroy all ardent spirits introduced into their country; and a police force, under the name of light-horse, was authorized to act as a posse cornitatus in maintaining order, and enforcing obedience to the laws.
Chapter IV. Organization of an Indian Bureau.
THE increase in the number of treaties, and of the Indian business generally, began to press so heavily on the Secretary of War, that he resolved to place this department under the charge of a person competent to manage its details, referring to him such topics as required his decision. Mr. Calhoun conferred this appointment on Thomas L. M'Kenney, Esq., as chief of the clerical staff, an office for the establishment of which Congress subsequently passed an act. Mr. M'Kenney was characterized by great amenity of manners, as well as ready business tact, and was influenced by a benevolent feeling for the Indians, whose advancement in the scale of civilization he sought to promote by every means at his command. A regular system of accountability was established in all departments of the Bureau, from the lowest to the highest officer.
From early times, a close connection had existed between the civil and military departments of Indian Affairs; and, while the tribes stood in their normal hunter state, it was difficult to manage the one, without reference to the other. Sir William Johnson, as early as 1757, only two years subsequent to his appointment as General Superintendent, had endeavored to relieve himself from the onerous duties of his office by the employment of a secretary, a man of talents and learning, who was in the habit of preparing the generic reports transmitted to the Lords of Plantations. During the war of the Revolution, and subsequent thereto, Congress managed the government of Indian affairs by entrusting it to commissioners for the North and South, who were always men of sound practical experience and judgment. The Executive documents abound in details of their acts. On the organization of the present government, in 1789, General Knox negotiated one or more treaties himself, and continued the office of commissioners. The same system prevailed from Washington's administration, through those of Adams, the elder, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe; and when the Bureau was organized by Congress, it was continued under the administrations of Adams, the younger, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, and Polk, at the close of whose administration, by an act of Congress, the duty was transferred from the War Department to that of the Interior.
Among the men who have rendered long and valuable services in this department, General Harrison and General William Clark deserve especial mention. As ex-officio Superintendents of Indian Affairs, while performing the duties appertaining to the office of Governor of the Indian Territories, they negotiated a very large proportion of the treaties made, between the years 1804 and 1812, with the tribes residing east and west of the Mississippi. After the close of the war, in 1815, their tact and talent in this department appear to have been inherited by, or fallen to the lot of, General Lewis Cass.
These men took the most prominent part in the negotiations with the Indians, and to them we are indebted for the permanency of our Indian relations, and for making the aborigines acquainted with the peculiar features, practices, and institutions of our government. From the time of the return of General Clark from the exploration of the Columbia river, in 1806, to the day of his death, in 1838, he was the Maecenas of the tribes west of the Mississippi. The Indians located on the Missouri, Platte, Kansas, Osage, and Arkansas rivers, as well as those residing among the distant peaks of the Rocky mountains, were frequent and welcome visitors at the Government Council-House in St. Louis. The official records of his proceedings with the Indians have been carefully examined, 566 and are found to contain a mass of speeches and traditions, constituting a valuable collection, whence the historian may derive much information regarding the sons of the forest.
Chapter V. Plan of Colonization West of the Mississippi.
Two diverse states of society, it is observed, cannot prosperously exist together; the stronger type must inevitably absorb or destroy the weaker. As the States increased in population, and emigration progressed westward, it became evident that the Indians could not sustain themselves amid a society whose every custom, maxim, and opinion, directly controverted their preconceived ideas. The Indians, in their tribal character, did not respect the principles of labor, temperance, or thrift, far less the teachings of Christianity; on the contrary, they not only contemned them, but they also regarded them as being adverse to their best interests. They believed, and maintained with great pertinacity, at all times and in all ages of their history, that the Great Spirit had created them a peculiar people, and bestowed upon them means of sustenance, manners, and customs, peculiarly adapted to their condition. They believed themselves to be the especial objects of his care; and they regarded their jossakeeds and prophets as a class of persons who were favored by divine revelations, and, as such, the medium through which the Deity announced his unalterable decrees. Where, as in this instance, there was no admission of error, or acknowledgment of ignorance, in arts, customs, pursuits, or opinions, secular or divine, there could be no progress in society, no aspiration after knowledge. Individual instances had occurred of Indians adopting the customs of civilized society, and embracing the truths of revelation, subsequent to the era of Manteo and Pocahontas; but the mass of the aborigines continued to live on, through centuries, without deriving any profit from contact with their civilized neighbors. Whatever may have been the sentiments and views of humanitarians, who sought to impress upon their minds the great truths set forth in the Bible, which constitutes the moral panacea for all classes and races of men, wherever dispersed over the surface of the globe, no practicable prospect of their reclamation and restoration to society was presented, after the lapse of centuries, except in their total separation from the evils surrounding them, and a concentration of the tribes, and fragments of tribes, as colonial communities, on territory specially appropriated for
their use, where, under the operation of their own laws and institutions, their better qualities might develop themselves.
This plan was first suggested by Mr. Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, who, in a message communicated by him to Congress, on the 27th of January, 1825, thus invites the attention of that body to the topic:
"Being deeply impressed with the opinion, that the removal of the Indian tribes from the lands which they now occupy within the limits of the several States and Territories, to the country lying westward and northward thereof, within our acknowledged boundaries, is of very high importance to our Union, and may be accomplished, on conditions, and in a manner, to promote the interest and happiness of those tribes, the attention of the Government has been long drawn, with great solicitude, to the object. For the removal of the tribes within the limits of the State of Georgia, the motive has been peculiarly strong, arising from the compact with that State, whereby the United States are bound to extinguish the Indian title to the lands within it, whenever it may be done peaceably and on reasonable conditions. In the fulfilment of this compact I have thought that the United States should act with a generous spirit, that they should omit nothing which should comport with a liberal construction of the instrument, and likewise be in accordance with the just rights of those tribes. From the view which I have taken of the subject, I am satisfied, that, in the discharge of those important duties, in regard to both the parties alluded to, the United States will have to encounter no conflicting interests with either: on the contrary, that the removal of the tribes, from the territory which they now inhabit, to that which was designated in the message at the commencement of the session, which would accomplish the object for Georgia, under a well digested plan for their government and civilization, which should be agreeable to themselves, would not only shield them from impending ruin, but promote their welfare and happiness. Experience has clearly demonstrated, that, in their present state, it is impossible to incorporate them, in such masses, in any form whatever, into our system. It has also demonstrated, with equal certainty, that, without a timely anticipation of, and provision against, the dangers to which they are exposed, under causes which it will be difficult, if not impossible, to control, their degradation and extermination will be inevitable.
"The great object to be accomplished is, the removal of those tribes to the Territory designated, on conditions which shall be satisfactory to themselves, and honorable to the United States. This can be done only by conveying to each tribe a good title to an adequate portion of land, to which it may consent to remove, and by providing for it there a system of internal government, which shall protect their property from invasion, and, by the regular progress of improvement and civilization, prevent that degeneracy which has generally marked the transition from the one to the other state.
"I transmit, herewith, a report from the Secretary of War, which presents the best estimate which can be formed from the documents in that Department, of the number
of Indians within our States and Territories, and of the amount of lands held by the several tribes within each; of the state of the country lying northward and westward thereof, within our acknowledged boundaries; of the parts to which the Indian title has already been extinguished; and of the conditions on which other parts, in an amount which may be adequate to the object contemplated, may be obtained. By this report, it appears that the Indian title has already been extinguished to extensive tracts in that quarter, and that other portions may be acquired, to the extent desired, on very moderate conditions. Satisfied, I also am, that the removal proposed is not only practicable, but that the advantages attending it, to the Indians, may be made so apparent to them, that all the tribes, even those most opposed, may be induced to accede to it at no very distant day.
"The digest of such a government, with the consent of the Indians, which should be endowed with sufficient power to meet all the objects contemplated, to connect the several tribes together in a bond of amity, and preserve order in each; to prevent intrusions on their property; to teach them, by regular instructions, the arts of civilized life, and make them a civilized people, is an object of very high importance. It is the powerful consideration which we have to offer to these tribes, as an inducement to relinquish the lands on which they now reside, and to remove to those which are designated. It is not doubted that this arrangement will present considerations of sufficient force to surmount all their prejudices in favor of the soil of their nativity, however strong they may be. Their elders have sufficient intelligence to discern the certain progress of events, in the present train, and sufficient virtue, by yielding to momentary sacrifices, to protect their families and posterity from inevitable destruction. They will also perceive that they may thus attain an elevation, to which, as communities, they could not otherwise aspire.
"To the United States, the proposed arrangement offers many important advantages in addition to those which have been already enumerated. By the establishment of such a government over these tribes, with their consent, we become, in reality, their benefactors. The relation of conflicting interests, which has heretofore existed between them and our frontier settlements, will cease. There will be no more wars between them and the United States. Adopting such a government, their movement will be in harmony with us, and its good effect be felt throughout the whole extent of our Territory, to the Pacific. It may fairly be presumed, that, through the agency of such a government, the condition of all the tribes inhabiting that vast region may be essentially improved; that permanent peace may be preserved with them, and our commerce be much extended.
"With a view to this important object, I recommend it to Congress to adopt, by solemn declaration, certain fundamental principles, in accord with those above suggested, as the basis of such arrangements as may be entered into with the several tribes, to the strict observance of which the faith of the nation shall be pledged. I recommend
it, also, to Congress, to provide, by law, for the appointment of a suitable number of Commissioners, who shall, under the direction of the President, be authorized to visit, and explain to the several tribes, the objects of the Government, and to make with them, according to their instructions, such arrangements as shall be best calculated to carry these objects into effect.
"A negotiation is now depending with the Creek nation for the cession of lands held by it within the limits of Georgia, and with a reasonable prospect of success. It is presumed, however, that the result will not be known during the present session of Congress. To give effect to this negotiation, and to the negotiations which it is proposed to hold with all the other tribes within the limits of the several states and territories, on the principles and for the purposes stated, it is recommended that an adequate appropriation be now made by Congress." 567
One of the first measures necessary in carrying this plan into effect, was to ascertain the names, positions, and numbers of the Indian tribes to be removed. Mr. Calhoun, Secretary of War, in communicating the subjoined information from the newly-organized Bureau of Indian Affairs, thus expresses his views of the entire feasibility of the plan:
"It appears, by the report enclosed, that there are, in the several States and Territories, not including a portion of Michigan Territory, west of Lake Michigan, and north of the State of Illinois, about 7000 Indians, and that they occupy about 77,000,000 acres of land.
"The arrangement for the removal, it is presumed, is not intended to comprehend the small remnants of tribes in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, and South Carolina, amounting to 3023. To these, also, may be added the remnants of tribes remaining in Louisiana, amounting to 1313, as they are each of them so few in number, that, it is believed, very little expense or difficulty will be found in their removal, making, together, 4336, which, subtracted from the 97,000, the entire number in the States and Territories, will leave 92,664 to be removed. Of these, there are residing in the northern part of the States of Indiana, Illinois, in the peninsula of Michigan, and New York, including the Ottowas in Ohio, about 13,150; which, I would respectfully suggest, might be removed, with advantage, to the country west of Lake Michigan, and north of the State of Illinois. The climate and nature of the country are much more favorable to their habits than that west of the Mississippi; to which may be added, that the Indians in New York have already commenced a settlement at Green Bay, and exhibit some disposition to make it a permanent one; and that the Indians referred to in Indiana, Illinois, and in the peninsula of Michigan, will find, in the country designated, kindred tribes, with whom they may be readily associated. These considerations, with the greater facility with which they could be collected in that portion of the country, compared with that of collecting them
west of the Mississippi, form a strong inducement to give it the preference. Should the proposition be adopted, the Indians in question might be gradually collected, as it became necessary, from time to time, to extinguish the Indian title in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, without incurring any additional expense other than what is usually incidental to such extinguishment. Deducting, then, the Indians residing in the northwestern parts of Indiana, Illinois, in Michigan, and New York, with the Ottawas in Ohio, amounting to 13,150, from 92,664, will leave but 79,514. It is proper to add that a late treaty with the Quapaws stipulates and provides for their removal, and that they may also be deducted from the number for whose removal provision ought to be made. They are estimated at 700; which, deducted from 79,514, will leave 78,814 to be removed west of the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas, should the views of the Department be adopted.
"Of these, there are estimated to reside in the States of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, 53,625, consisting of Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws; and claiming about 33,573,176 acres, including the claim of the Cherokees, in North Carolina; 3082 in Ohio, and in the southern and middle parts of Indiana and Illinois, consisting of Wyandots, Shawnees, Senecas, Delawares, Kaskaskias, and Miami and Eel Rivers; 5000 in Florida, consisting of Seminoles and remnants of other tribes; and the remainder in Missouri and Arkansas, consisting of Delawares, Kickapoos, Shawnees, Weas, Iowas, Piankashaws, Cherokees, Quapaws, and Osages.
"The next subject of consideration will be, to acquire a sufficient tract of country west of the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas, in order to establish permanent settlements in that quarter, of the tribes which are proposed to be removed. The country between the Red River and the Arkansas has already been allotted to the Choctaws, under the treaty of the 18th October, 1820. The country north of the river Arkansas, and immediately west of the State of Missouri, is held almost entirely by the Osages and the Kanzas; the principal settlement of the former being on the Osage river, not far west of the western boundary of Missouri, and the latter, on the Missouri river, near Cow Island. There is a band of the Osages situated on the Verdigris, a branch of the Arkansas. Governor Clark has been already instructed to take measures to remove them from the Verdigris, to join the other bands on the Osage river. To carry this object into effect, and to extinguish the title of the Osages upon the Arkansas, and in the State of Missouri; and also to extinguish the title of the Kanzas to whatever tract of country may be necessary to effect the views of the Government, will be the first object of expenditure; and would require an appropriation, it is believed, of not less than $30,000. After this is effected, the next will be, to allot a portion of the country to each of the tribes, and to commence the work of removal. The former could be effected by vesting in the President discretionary power to make the location; and the latter, by commencing with the removal of the Cherokees,
Piankashaws, Weas, Shawnees, Kickapoos, and Delawares, who now occupy different tracts of country, lying in the north-western portion of the Arkansas Territory, and the south-western portion of the State of Missouri. It is believed that the Cherokees, to whom has been allotted a country lying between the Arkansas and White rivers, will very readily agree to removing their eastern boundary farther west, on the consideration that, for the lands thereby ceded, they may have assigned to them an equal quantity farther west, as they have evinced a strong disposition to prevent the settlement of the whites to the west of them. It is probable that this arrangement could be effected by an appropriation of a few thousand dollars, say five thousand, for the expense of holding the treaty. Nor is it believed that there will be any difficulty in inducing the Piankashaws, Weas, Shawnees, Kickapoos, and Delawares, to occupy a position that may be assigned to them west of the State of Missouri; or that the operation will be attended with any great expense. The kindred tribes in the States of Ohio and Indiana, including the Wyandots, the Senecas, and the Miamies and Eel rivers, in those States; and the Kaskaskias, in Illinois, it is believed, might be induced, without much difficulty, to join them, after those now residing in Missouri are fixed in their new position, west of that State. Of the sum that will be necessary for this purpose, it is difficult to form an estimate. These tribes amount to 3,082. The expense of extinguishing their title to the lands occupied by them, will probably be high in comparison with the price which has been usually given for lands in that quarter, as they, particularly the Indians in Ohio, have made some advances in civilization, and considerable improvements on their lands. The better course would be, to remove them gradually, commencing with those tribes which are most disposed to leave their present settlements, and, if this arrangement should be adopted, an appropriation of $20,000 would be sufficient to commence with.
"It may, however, be proper to remark, that these tribes, together with those in New York, have indicated a disposition to join the Cherokees on the Arkansas, and that a deputation from the former, with a deputation from those Cherokees, are now on their way to the seat of government, in order to make some arrangements to carry the proposed union into effect. Should it be accomplished, it would vary the arrangement which has been suggested in relation to them, but will not, probably, materially vary the expense.
"It only remains now to consider the removal of the Indians in Florida, and the four southern tribes residing in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.
"It is believed that immediate measures need not be taken with regard to the Indians in Florida. By the treaty of the 18th September, 1823, they ceded the whole of the northern portion of Florida, with the exception of a few small reservations, and have had allotted to them the southern part of the peninsula; and it is probable that no
inconvenience will be felt for many years, either by the inhabitants of Florida, or the Indians, under the present arrangement.
"Of the four southern tribes, two of them, the Cherokees and Choctaws, have already allotted to them a tract of country west of the Mississippi. That which has been allotted to the latter is believed to be sufficiently ample for the whole nation, should they emigrate; and if an arrangement, which is believed not to be impracticable, could be made between them and the Chickasaws, who are their neighbors, and of similar habits and dispositions, it would be sufficient for the accommodation of both. A sufficient country should be reserved to the west of the Cherokees, on the Arkansas, as a means of exchange with those who remain on the east. To the Creeks might be allotted a country between the Arkansas and Canadian river, which limits the northern boundary of the Choctaw possessions in that quarter. There is now pending with the Creeks a negotiation, under the appropriation of the last session, with a prospect, that the portion of that nation which resides within the limits of Georgia may be induced, with the consent of the nation, to cede the country which they occupy for a portion of the one which it is proposed to allot for the Creek nation, on the west of the Mississippi. Should the treaty prove successful, its stipulations will provide for the means of carrying it into effect, which will render any additional provision at present unnecessary. It will be proper to open new communications with the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, for the purpose of explaining to them the views of the government, and inducing them to remove beyond the Mississippi, on the principles and conditions which may be proposed to the other tribes. It is known that there are many individuals of each of the tribes who are desirous of settling west of the Mississippi; and, should it be thought advisable, there can be no doubt, that if, by an adequate appropriation, the means were afforded the Government of bearing their expense, they would emigrate. Should it be thought that the encouragement of such emigration is desirable, the sum of $40,000, at least, would be required to be appropriated for this object, to be applied under the discretion of the President of the United States. The several sums which have been recommended to be appropriated, if the proposed arrangements should be adopted, amount to $95,000. The appropriation may be made either general or specific, as may be deemed most advisable.
"I cannot, however, conclude without remarking, that no arrangement ought to be made which does not regard the interest of the Indians, as well as our own; and that, to protect the interest of the former, decisive measures ought to be adopted, to prevent the hostility which must, almost necessarily, take place if left to themselves, among tribes hastily brought together, of discordant character; and many of which are actuated by feelings far from being friendly towards each other. But the preservation of peace between them will not alone be sufficient to render their condition as eligible in their new situation as it is in their present. Almost all of the tribes proposed to be affected by the arrangement are more or less advanced in the arts of civilized life, and
there is scarcely one of them which have not benefited by the establishment of schools in the nation, affording at once the means of moral, religious, and intellectual improvement. These schools have been established, for the most part, by religious societies, with the countenance and aid of the Government; and, on every principle of humanity, the continuance of similar advantages of education ought to be extended to them in their new residence. There is another point which appears to be indispensable to be guarded, in order to render the condition of this race less afflicting. One of the greatest evils to which they are subject, is that incessant pressure of our population, which forces them from seat to seat, without allowing time for that moral and intellectual improvement for which they appear to be naturally eminently susceptible. To guard against this evil, so fatal to the race, there ought to be the strongest and the most solemn assurance that the country given them should be theirs, as a permanent home for themselves and their posterity, without being disturbed by the encroachments of our citizens. To such assurance, if there should be added a system by which the Government, without destroying their independence, would gradually unite the several tribes under a simple but enlightened system of government and laws, formed on the principles of our own, and for which, as their own people would partake in it, they would, under the influence of the contemplated improvement, at no distant day become prepared, the arrangements which have been proposed would prove, to the Indians and their posterity, a permanent blessing. It is believed that, if they could be assured that peace and friendship would be maintained among the several tribes; that the advantages of education which they now enjoy would be extended to them; that they should have a permanent and solemn guarantee for their possessions, and receive the countenance and aid of the Government for the gradual extension of its privileges to them; there would be among all the tribes a disposition to accord with the views of the Government. There are now, in most of the tribes, well educated, sober, and reflecting individuals, who are afflicted at the present condition of the Indians, and despondent at their future prospects. Under the operation of existing causes, they behold the certain degradation, misery, and even the final annihilation of their race, and, no doubt, would gladly embrace any arrangement which would promise to elevate them in the scale of civilization, and arrest the destruction which now awaits them. It is conceived that one of the most cheap, certain, and desirable modes of effecting the object in view would be, for Congress to establish fixed principles, such as have been suggested as the basis of the proposed arrangement, and to authorize the President to convene, at some suitable point, all of the well-informed, intelligent, and influential individuals of the tribes to be affected by it, in order to explain to them the views of the Government, and to pledge the faith of the nation to the arrangements that might be adopted. Should such principles be established by Congress, and the President be vested with suitable authority to convene the individuals, as proposed, and suitable provision be made to meet the expense, great confidence is felt that a basis of a system might be laid, which,
in a few years, would entirely effect the object in view, to the mutual benefit of the Government and the Indians, and which, in its operations, would effectually arrest the calamitous course of events to which they must be subject, without a radical change in the present system. Should it be thought advisable to call such a convention, as one of the means of effecting the object in view, an additional appropriation of $30,000 will be required; making, in the whole, $125,000 to be appropriated."
The following additional details were presented by the newly-created Bureau of Indian Affairs. 568
"There is no land assigned, as will be seen on reference to the table, to the Indians in Louisiana; yet, it is believed, the Caddoes have a claim, but to what extent is not known. So, also, have the Cherokees (whose numbers are not known), to a tract in the north-west corner of the State of North Carolina; which, it is believed, does not exceed 200,000 acres. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and perhaps in Maryland, a few Indians are remaining; but how many, or what quantity of land is owned by them, if any, there are no means of ascertaining.
"There are now remaining, within the limits of the different States and Territories, as is shown by the table, sixty-four tribes and remnants of tribes of Indians, whose "names" and "numbers" are given; who number, in the aggregate, 129,266 souls; and who claim 77,402,318 acres of land.
"It will be seen, by adverting to the table, that the Indians residing north of the State of Illinois, east of the Mississippi, and west of the Lakes, are comprehended in the estimate of the number in Michigan Territory; although, in estimating the quantity of land held by Indians in that territory, the portion only so held in the Peninsula of Michigan, is estimated. It was found impossible, from any documents in possession of this office, to distinguish the number of Chippewas and Ottawas residing in the peninsula of Michigan from those residing on the west side of Lake Michigan. It is, however, believed, that the whole number residing in the peninsula does not exceed 3500; and these, as has been stated, are principally of the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes.
"It may be proper also to remark that, of the 6400 Sacs and Foxes, who are included in the estimate as part of the 129,266, and who occupy lands on both sides the Mississippi, not more than one-third of that number are supposed to reside on the east side; and, of the 5200 Osages, who, by the table, are assigned to Missouri and Arkansas, it is believed not more than one-third of that number reside within the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas. If, therefore, the number assumed for the peninsula of Michigan be correct, and two-thirds of the Sacs and Foxes, as is believed to be the fact, reside on the west of the Mississippi, and two-thirds of the Osages west of Missouri, and north of Arkansas, there will remain "within the limits of the different States and Territories," confining the Michigan Territory to the peninsula 97,384 Indians,
possessing (if the 200,000 acres, which are believed to be claimed by the Cherokees in North Carolina, be added), 77,602,318 acres of land.
"In obtaining this information, resort has been had, for the "names" and "numbers" of the Indian tribes, to the reports to this office, and to other sources of information, which are deemed to be the most accurate; and, for the quantity of land claimed by them, to the files of this office; to the General Land Office; and to computations carefully made from the best maps, by Colonel Roberdeau, of the Topographical Bureau.
"The 4,000,000 of acres assumed as the quantity claimed by the Cherokees in Arkansas, although but an estimate, is believed to be nearly correct. The precise quantity, however, cannot be ascertained until it is known how much they ceded on this side the Mississippi, for which, by the treaty of 1817, they are to receive an equal number of acres on the other.
Chapter VI. Removal Policy. Creek Difficulties. Death of the Chief, General M'Intosh. Treaty for Their Final Settlement.
THE treaties concluded, respectively, with the Cherokees, July 8th, 1817, with the Choctaws, October 18th, 1820, and with the Creeks, January 8th, 1821, constituted the primary steps towards the removal of the aborigines to the lands west of the Mississippi. Under these treaties, the hunter portions of these tribes voluntarily, and of their own accord, assumed the initiative, and made preparations for their migration to the Arkansas territory. The hunter bands, as contradistinguished from the agricultural bands of the Southern or Appalachian group of tribes, were the first to perceive that this land must be their national refuge. Hence the provision in the first article of the Choctaw treaty stipulates that they should be furnished with a western tract, "where all, who live by hunting, and will not work, may be collected and settled together." 569 This proviso was the natural suggestion of the Indian mind; oxen, ploughs, and implements of handicraft, were not attractive objects to the aborigines, who delighted in the pursuits of the chase, which were hallowed in their memories by reminiscences of their fathers. The whites did not so readily perceive that the stock of wild animals must soon decline, and the chase prove unreliable in the regions east of the Mississippi; or, if they did foresee this result, they were slow to propose the scheme of a general removal. But the Executive power favored such migrations as originated with the Indians themselves; and insensibly, perhaps, the system of removal became the policy of the Government. When it was discussed on its merits, and began to be put in operation, it became evident that the West was not only an outlet to the hunter population, but that all the means necessary for their improvement in arts, and progress in education also, in order to be permanently beneficial, must be applied in that quarter. Driven from their original residences, or from the reservations in the States, their attainments in civilization were shared with those portions of the tribes resident in the West; and all the tribes were thus, in a measure, assimilated in manners and arts.
The question of removal became one of much interest, and was freely discussed in all parts of the Union; the ardent friends of the Indians maintaining that it would have a tendency to make them retrograde toward barbarism; while the advocates for removal contended that it would be accompanied by the beneficial effects referred to. Another question of a grave character arose at the same time, viz.: the claim to sovereignty, asserted by some of the most advanced tribes, over the districts they inhabited. This claim was, however, principally confined to the Creeks, who had received a powerful national impulse during the occupancy of Florida by Great Britain. Their prominent chiefs had become wealthy planters through the medium of the labors of fugitive African slaves, from the contiguous States, who cultivated for them crops of cotton and corn. The result was, that they not only amassed riches, but also attained to a correspondent mental elevation, which led to the introduction of two classes among this, and other southern tribes, and produced an aversion to transferring their lands to Georgia, and emigrating westward.
The people of Georgia, feeling the expansive force of their population, clamored for the Creek lands, the Indian title to which the United States had promised to give them, as soon as it could be obtained. The Creeks, when they began to appreciate the benefits of civilization, through their experience of the agricultural and school systems, resisted all offers to cede their territory. A law, which was eventually passed by their council, was enacted, that if any one of the chiefs or rulers should sign a treaty ceding lands, he should incur the penalty of death.
General William M'Intosh, the presiding chief of the Cowetas tribe of the Lower Creeks, subjected himself to the penalty by signing the treaty of February 12th, 1825. The penalty was enforced by the dissenting part of the tribes, in a peculiar manner. They did not arraign and try the guilty party, but a large number of armed warriors surrounded his house, and poured into it an indiscriminate fire, so that the onus of the murder might not rest on any one individual. Fifty other chiefs, warriors, and head men, had signed the same treaty, but they were not held accountable; doubtless, on the Indian principle, that a crime should be revenged on the real instigator of it, whether he or another committed the act.
The United States made no attempt to carry this treaty into effect. Mr. Monroe, in a message previously quoted, mentions the difficulty which surrounded the subject, and expresses a hope that the negotiations with the tribe, then in progress, would result favorably. Agreeably to this intimation, a treaty was concluded at Indian Springs, in the Creek nation, March 7, 1825, three days after the expiration of Mr. Monroe's presidential term. This instrument was designed to enable the Government to comply with its contract of April 24, 1802, to transfer the Indian title to Georgia, as well as to remove the existing dissatisfaction with the treaty of February 12, 1825. But neither object was attained; Mr. Monroe went out of office, leaving the Creek controversy unadjusted.
Chapter VII. Assumption of the Right of Sovereignty by the Creeks, in Opposition to Georgia.
THE Creek question attained its highest point of interest about this time. Public opinion was much divided; some siding with the Indians in their assertion of the right of sovereignty within the territorial area of Georgia, and others as decidedly opposing it, as a new and inadmissible claim. Mr. Adams, who succeeded to the Presidency, directed the attention of the War Department to the subject, and authorized Mr. Barbour, the Secretary of War, to confer with the Creek chiefs. By the treaty concluded at Hopewell, in 1785, the United States had undertaken to extinguish and transfer the Creek title to the State of Georgia, at the earliest practicable moment. But the lapse of time only made the Indians cling more closely to the land. The period for the chase had passed away, and the plow began to be appreciated. The experience of forty years had so operated as to give them a more definite and just idea of its value, and they now undertook to ignore the laws of Georgia, and to dispute her sovereignty over the country. The political aspects of the controversy had been communicated to Congress, during the last few months of Mr. Monroe's second term. He had bestowed enlarged thought on the subject, and recommended the only plan which appeared adequate, at once to meet the question of the certain decadence and extinction of the tribes in the States, and to provide for their ultimate welfare and prosperity. Such was the origin of the Creek controversy.
Mr. Adams exerted himself to bring this vexed question to an equitable close; the Creek nation, and the people of the Union being much agitated by its discussion, and the friends of the Indians apprehensive that some great injustice was about to be done them. Georgia having demanded their expulsion, the Creeks appealed to the Government, and, early in the year 1826, sent a large and respectable delegation to Washington, to represent their cause. Negotiations were renewed, and resulted in the formation of the important treaty, signed January 24, 1826, 570 the first article of which abrogates the prior treaty of February 12, 1825, and declares every clause thereof "null and void,
to every intent and purpose whatsoever." 571 By this treaty the Creeks ceded large tracts of their lands in Georgia, and agreed to remove to the West. The M'Intosh party, and all who signed the objectionable treaty, were reinstated in their just rights, and permitted to send a delegation to locate lands for their party in the West. A perpetual additional annuity of $20,000 was granted, and the Creeks agreed to remove within one year. Other stipulations were included in the treaty, which was in the highest degree liberal. The removal policy was thus sustained.
Under the authority of the treaty-making power, the President continued to receive such cessions of the exhausted and surplus tracts of all the tribes, situated east of the Mississippi, as they felt inclined to make, in view of the final relinquishment of their possessions and transfer to the West.
The treaty of January 24, 1826, 572 was the first effective step taken towards the transference of the Indian tribes to the West. This treaty, negotiated by Mr. Barbour, Secretary of War, made very extensive cessions of territory, retaining, however, important reserves for the Indians, who were confined to their particular localities. The followers of General M'Intosh, who had fallen in the contest about the land, were indemnified for the damages sustained by them, and a deputation of that part of the nation agreed to visit and examine the country, west of the Mississippi, designed for their residence. This treaty, which secured important advantages to the Eastern Creeks, was the initial movement toward a compromise.
It is impossible to conceive, unless by a perusal of the numerous public documents printed at that period, how numerous and complicated were the difficulties surrounding this subject. 573 Some of the tribes, more advanced in civilization than the rest, regarded it as an endeavor to drive them back into barbarism, and the moral tone of the community also sympathized with this view. The diurnal press, as well as the critical reviews, asserted that the Indian question had reached a point where it became necessary to pause, and ponder on the duties which the nation owed to the tribes, who, though at that time acting under delusive impulses, should be regarded with deeper sympathy, not only as our predecessors in the country, but also as individuals in whom Christianity felt a deep interest. It was then, as it still is, an unsettled question, whether these wandering, forsaken, and benighted sons of the forest, were not the probable descendants of the Abramic stock, whose history is inseparably connected with the destinies of the human race.
At this time, it appeared that nothing but the removal of the tribes from the jurisdictions of the several States to a separate territory, where they would be free from molestation, could avert their entire annihilation at no very distant period. Portions of the Cherokees seem to have realized their true condition as early as the year 1809,
when they obtained Mr. Jefferson's sanction to their proposal, which was subsequently embodied in the treaty negotiated in 1816. From a clause of the treaty with the Shawnees, negotiated by General Clark in 1825, we learn that a small fragment of that tribe had crossed the Mississippi into upper Louisiana, and there located themselves on a tract of land twenty-five miles square, granted to them by Governor Carondolet, as early as 1795. This movement which was at first merely precautionary, and intended to furnish an outlet for their restless population west of the Mississippi, was followed by several other tribes at a later date, and at various epochs it became a portion of the tribal policy of the Choctaws, the Chickasaws, the majority of the Cherokees, and finally, of the Creeks. Yet the dispersed hunter tribes, living on large reservations in the western and northern States, east of the Mississippi, regarded the measure with total aversion. They clung with tenacity to the land of their forefathers, in those latitudes, where the varying climate, and the happy alternation of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, gave a piquancy to the enjoyment of life. The chase was the poetry of their existence, war the true path to honor, and the traditions and reminiscences of their forefathers the proper intellectual food of the Indian mind. Books were for scholars, and labor for slaves. This was Indian philosophy.
But, while the Indian indulged in his day-dreams, the race which labored at the plow, the anvil, and the loom, and chained the rippling and murmuring streamlet to the revolving wheel of the saw and grist mill, were rapidly encompassing him with the bonds of civilized life. There were then no railroads, but the steady and rapid advance of civilization foreshadowed their approach. The plan of removing and concentrating the Indian population was no sooner announced, than it was warmly advocated as the proper mode of arresting their decline and averting their final extinction. The result of careful scrutiny into their condition and future prospects by the President, whom they regarded as their great political father, was a provision, while yet the means were at hand, for their future prosperity and permanent welfare. As such, the plan was detailed to the tribes by the officers charged with the care of Indian affairs; not, however, with a view of forcing it upon them, but of submitting it to their calm consideration and decision.
The Indian, ignorant alike of history and of the progress of society, required time to consider any new propositions advanced, and to realize his own true position. All the northern tribes expressed fears as to the healthfulness of the southern latitudes, being accustomed only to the bracing northern seasons, and to the customs and arts of northern hunters. Their very mythology, singular as it may seem, warned them of the seductive manners and habits of the South. 574 It was a difficult matter for them to exchange their established customs for others entirely at variance with them.
The intestine wars and feuds of the Indians had been one of the principal causes of
their decline, and, in some cases, of their utter destruction. These wars, which had no limits to their fury, and were waged without any ostensible object, began before America was discovered, and continued, at fitful intervals, throughout every period of aboriginal history. They have, in fact, exercised a more baneful influence on the prosperity of the Indian race, than any or all other causes combined, with the single exception of their passionate craving for ardent spirits. Efforts were frequently made to put a stop to these intestine wars, and as frequently defeated; but after the close of the war of 1812 they were again vigorously resumed. Mr. Monroe made strenuous efforts to enforce this policy throughout the entire eight years of his administration. The several expeditions of Long, Cass, and Schoolcraft, to the
As internal tribal wars were continually distracting the Indians, one tribe trespassing on the lands of another, and as the civilized population was, at the same time, pressing into the ceded districts, it was thought by the Government that one of the most practical methods of allaying their territorial disputes would be to establish definite boundary-lines between their possessions; a method of settling their difficulties which had never occurred to the Indians.
A series of conventions held with the Indian chiefs of the western and north-western tribes, marked the early part of Mr. Adams' administration; the first, and most important of which assembled at Prairie du Chien, on the Upper Mississippi, during the summer of 1825, under the auspices of General William Clark, the general superintendent at St. Louis, and of Governor Lewis Cass, of Michigan, ex officio superintendent of the northern Department. This convention was attended by the Mendawacanton and Yanton Dakotahs, or Sioux, of the St. Peter's and the Plains, the Chippewas and Pillagers, of the sources of the Mississippi, and the Sacs, Poxes, Iowas, Winnebagoes, Menomonees, Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies, of the Lakes and the Illinois river. Maps, drawn on birch bark, giving the outlines of their hunting-grounds, were exhibited by the several tribes, and, after a full discussion with each of their respective agents, a treaty of peace and limitation was signed by them, August
29, 1825. 576 The principles here annunciated were carried out by a similar convention of chiefs, which assembled at Fond du Lac, at the head of Lake Superior, in 1826, and was attended by the chiefs of that region.
A treaty was signed by these representatives of the northern tribes, which established peaceful relations among the Indians, and definitely settled the boundary lines of their territories up to the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude. 577 Under a treaty of a similar character, a convention was held at Butte des Morts, on Fox river, for the purpose of settling the north-eastern boundary between the Menomonees and Chippewas, and certain bands of the Oneidas and Stockbridges, better known by the designation of New York Indians, which resulted in the signing of a treaty at this place, August 11th, 1827. 578
These treaties with the hunter tribes of the North secured for them accurate boundaries, and the acknowledgment by the United States, as well as by the other tribes, of their claims to the territory. They were likewise of the greatest advantage to them in their subsequent history, and served to teach them the benefits of system, when they began to exchange their surplus lands for annuities in goods and coin.
While the treaty of Butte des Morts was under consideration, the Winnebagoes committed some hostile acts at Prairie du Chien, on the Mississippi. They there fired into a boat, plundered several individuals, and endeavored practically to enforce an obsolete idea, that they had a right to interdict merchandise from passing the portage of the Wisconsin, without receiving some acknowledgment therefor, in the nature of toll. General Cass, who, as one of the Commissioners, was then in the vicinity, immediately embarked in his light canoe, manned by skilful Canadians, crossed the portage, and, entering the Mississippi river, journeyed night and day until he reached St. Louis, whence he returned with a body of troops, whose sudden appearance prevented any further trouble from this source.
Chapter VIII. Gradual Transference of the Indian Population to the West.
ALL causes of intestine quarrels and dissensions were ultimately removed, during Mr. Adams' administration, by the negotiation of treaties defining the boundaries between the tribes; 579 and the policy of western migration was promoted by the force of convincing argument.
The primary arrangements for the expatriation of the Cherokees and Choctaws had been commenced by the Indians themselves in 1817 and 1820. Their transference to the West was, however, a tedious operation, and only undertaken after a thorough exploration of their new territory had been made. The Indian exercises great caution, and is never in a hurry in the transaction of business; he must have time to think. One after another, the tribes residing in the southern and middle, and, finally, to a considerable extent, those in the northern latitudes, adopted the plan, and accepted locations west of the Mississippi, for those surrendered on the east of that river. It was an object to preserve pacific relations with those indigenous tribes in the west, on whose territories the eastern tribes were to be concentrated, and who yet possessed the title to the soil. These stern lords of the wilderness, the Osages, the Quappas, the Kanzas and their compeers, required to be kept at peace not only with the United States, but also with each other, and with the tribes emigrating from the east of the Mississippi. Parties of the migrating Indians required, from time to time, to be directed to the places on which they were to reside; and to be furnished with the means of beginning life there. It was likewise necessary that their annuities, derived from former cessions of country, should be apportioned between the eastern and western divisions of the tribes, in accordance with their respective numbers. Sometimes, the tribes settled in positions, whence their restless spirit induced them to remove and re-locate elsewhere. Murders not unfrequently occurred, and frontier wars were only prevented by judicious negotiations, military watchfulness, and by the system of compensation, customary among the Indians. These onerous official duties were
ably performed by the veteran Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis. The most important tribes of the Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois Indians, had so far entered into arrangements for their removal, as to have sent out either pioneers or emigrant parties. Early in the month of April, 1827, Ellksattawa, the Shawnee prophet, arrived at St. Louis, from Wahpakenetta, with the Shawnee tribe, on their route to the West. This was the celebrated man, who, assuming the prophetic office, had, in 1811, incited the aborigines to wage the war against the United States, in which the Indian hosts were led to battle by Tecumseh. This war, instead of originating a new era of prosperity for the Indians, and limiting the advance of civilization, as Ellksattawa had assured them, had produced the diametrically opposite effect. After the defeat and death of Tecumseh, the prophet had himself fled to Canada, where he lived for some years, until the long continuance of peace removed all apprehension of further mischief from his oracular voice, when General Cass permitted him to return to his tribe at Wahpakenetta, where his people, having directed their attention to farming, and the raising of horses and cattle, had made considerable advance in arts, industry, and civilization. He was a man of original ideas, strong purpose, and much natural shrewdness, and was well adapted, by his easy manners, and by habits of extreme abstemiousness, as well as by his total lack of selfishness, to attract the favor of the Indians. In stature, he was considerably above the average height, his body was very spare, and his countenance always wore an austere aspect, which, with the loss of one eye, over which he constantly wore a patch or blind, tended to more deeply impress the Indians with an idea of his sanctity of character. His revelations were promulged with all that careful attention to manner, circumstance, time, and place, necessary to ensure them full credit; and but few men of his class, possessing such marked peculiarities, have figured in Indian history. Bowed down with the accumulated weight of years, he was now the leader of his tribe in their journey to a land of refuge; and, as such, was received by the Superintendent, and officials at the West, with friendship, respect, and kindness.
Assuming an oratorical attitude, he said, in effect, "that he had come, in obedience to the desire of the President, whose wishes had been communicated by the agent. His Great Father at Washington had seen that the Shawnees owned but a small piece of land, and that the whites were pressing upon them so much that they could not long remain on it in prosperity. That, to ensure their preservation, and enable them again to become a great nation, he would give them a new location in the West, where the sun shone as brightly, and the soil was as rich, on which they might live forever, under their own laws. He had advised them to send a party to view it, and judge of its fitness. He had promised to sustain them on the way, and pay them for their improvements, orchards, and agricultural implements left behind. They received this voice as the voice of wisdom and kindness. They regarded it as one with the voice of the Great Spirit, which he had himself heard. It came over the Alleghanies as the pleasing sound of many waters. The old men at first objected to the plan. At last,
the young men reviewed the subject, and said, let us go and look at the land. He had got up and came with his people. There were 200 persons with him. There were some left behind, who would also come. They did not come of their own motion. It was the great Ruler of the land who sent them. It was his promises that he came to test. He now asked that they should be carried out. They were hungry, and had worn out most of their clothes. Their horses were lean and poor. They must rest to gain strength." 580
The removal of all the Indians to the west of the Mississippi went forward, partly by their own volition, and partly under the influence of the Government officials. The movement was founded on the strength of treaty stipulations alone. The more closely the plan was examined by both white and red men, the more favor it received. Congress was much interested in the project, and several acts were presented to the consideration of both Houses, which had for their object to facilitate and give the force of legal security to the plan. February 1st, 1825, the Senate passed a bill "for the preservation and civilization of the Indian tribes within the United States;" but it failed to receive the sanction of the House of Representatives. December 27th of the same year, the House instructed their Committee on Indian Affairs, to devise a plan for allotting to each tribe a sufficiency of land, "with the sovereignty, or right of soil, in the same manner that the right of domain is secured to the respective States of the Union." In January, 1826, the bill brought forward in the House, at the previous session, was referred to the Secretary of War, with the view of obtaining such information as the subject demanded. Mr. Barbour made a very elaborate report, but no final action was taken in the matter. The principles then discussed were, however, incorporated in the treaty formed May 8th, 1828, with the Cherokees, which secured to that nation a permanent home in the West, under the most solemn guaranty of the United States, by which this territory was granted to them forever, with an appended stipulation that they should be provided with plain laws, and the individuality of the right to the land acknowledged whenever it should be desired.
Chapter IX. Geographical Phenomena. Soil, Climate, and Territorial Advantages of the Proposed Indian Colonies.
THE suitability and the amplitude of the territory selected as a refuge for the Indians, were topics often mooted, and as frequently denied. Situate on the great geological slope of the Rocky Mountains, in latitudes but seldom visited, except by the hunter and the traveller, information regarding this territory was not easily accessible. Being remote, and in a measure unknown, its condition was easily misrepresented; and there were not wanting some, who supposed that the tribes were not only to be removed west of the jurisdictions of the States and Territories, but also beyond the isothermal limits, where the absence of arable soils had effectually barred the production of forest trees. General William Clark, the veteran explorer, then Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis, disabused the public of this notion, in a report which he made to the Government in the year 1825. "The great body of the cession," he observes, "lies west of Missouri and Arkansas, and is so extensive that, after leaving the country of the Kanzas and Osages, a district sufficient for their permanent residence, and after furnishing homes for the tribes, whose accommodation was the immediate object of the Government, and locating the Creeks, it will still leave enough to enable them to furnish permanent residences for other tribes in different States, who may be willing to remove to the West, in pursuance of the system for the gradual removal and collocation of the Indians.
"I find, from information derived from persons to be relied upon, that the country embraced in these cessions, is WONDERFULLY ADAPTED TO AN INDIAN POPULATION IN THE FIRST STAGES OF CIVILIZATION. Grass is universally abundant, and the winters, in a great portion of the cession, mild enough to winter cattle, horses, and other domestic animals, to subsist themselves without care from their owners. On all creeks and rivers, there are bottoms of rich lands, easily prepared for cultivation. The country is divided into woodland and prairie but mostly prairie, and is well watered by springs and running streams, and is convenient to salt plains, and springs of salt water,
from which an inexhaustible supply of salt can be obtained. It is also convenient to the great Buffalo range, from which supplies can be obtained, until they can resort to their own flocks." 581
In 1830, during a subsequent presidency, General Eaton, Secretary of War, thus indicates his concurrence in these views: "As it regards the inquiry relative to the soil, climate, and productions of the country, all the information that has been obtained from persons who have visited this portion of our territory, leads to the conclusion that, in nothing of these is it inferior to the country proposed to be abandoned on the east of the Mississippi. It is for the most part, an open prairie country, fertile and easy to be cultivated, with timber sufficient for all agricultural purposes, and which is vigorously and freely reproduced in the prairies when they are settled and trodden by the stock. The climate is mild and agreeable, and produces cotton to advantage throughout that portion of it where it is proposed to locate the southern tribes." 582
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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