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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
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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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.

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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.

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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
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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