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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 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

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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,

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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.

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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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