NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

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


Previous section

Next section

Section Eighteenth. — The First Decade of the Colonization Plan. — 1831 to 1841. Chapter I. — Congress Authorizes the Colonizing of the Indians in the West.

EVERY year increased the pressure of civilization on the Indian tribes; the tide of white emigration rolled westward with ever-increasing volume. For the Indians, the era of the chase had passed away forever, and they had now the alternative of employing themselves manfully in the pursuits of agriculture and the arts, or of perishing from indolence and want; to remain where they then were, within the jurisdiction of the States, was impossible. In his first message to Congress, delivered at the close of the year 1829, General Jackson introduced the subject in a very forcible manner.

"The condition and ulterior destiny of the Indian tribes within the limits of some of our States, have become subjects of much interest and importance. It has long been the policy of Government, to introduce among them the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life. This policy has, however, been coupled with another, wholly incompatible with its success. Professing a desire to civilize and settle them, we have, at the same time, lost no opportunity to purchase their lands and thrust them further into the wilderness. By this means they have not only been kept in a wandering state, but been led to look upon us as unjust and indifferent to their fate. Thus, though lavish in its expenditures upon the subject, Government has constantly defeated its own policy; and the Indians, in general, receding further and further to the West, have retained their savage habits. A portion,

-- 429 --

however, of the southern tribes, having mingled much with the whites, and made some progress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama. These States, claiming to be the only sovereigns within their territories, extended their laws over the Indians; which induced the latter to call upon the United States for protection.

"Under these circumstances, the question presented was, whether the General Government had a right to sustain those people in their pretensions? The Constitution declares, that ‘no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State, without the consent of its legislature.’ If the General Government is not permitted to tolerate the erection of a confederate State within the territory of one of the members of this Union, against her consent, much less could it allow a foreign and independent government to establish itself there. Georgia became a member of the Confederacy which eventuated in our Federal Union, as a sovereign State, always asserting her claim to certain limits; which, having been originally defined in her colonial charter, and subsequently recognised in the treaty of peace, she has ever since continued to enjoy, except as they have been circumscribed by her own voluntary transfer of a portion of her territory to the United States, in the articles of cession of 1802. Alabama was admitted into the Union on the same footing with the original States, with boundaries which were prescribed by Congress. There is no constitutional, conventional, or legal provision, which allows them less power over the Indians within their borders, than is possessed by Maine or New York. Would the people of Maine permit the Penobscot tribe to erect an independent government within their State? and, unless they did, would it not be the duty of the General Government to support them in resisting such a measure? Would the people of New York permit each remnant of the Six Nations within her borders, to declare itself an independent people, under the protection of the United States? Could the Indians establish a separate republic on each of their reservations in Ohio? and if they were so disposed, would it be the duty of this Government to protect them in the attempt? If the principle involved in the obvious answer to these questions be abandoned, it will follow that the objects of this Government are reversed; and that it has become a part of its duty to aid in destroying the States which it was established to protect.

"Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama, that their attempt to establish an independent government would not be countenanced by the Executive of the United States; and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi, or submit to the laws of those States.

"Our conduct towards these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By persuasion and force, they have been made to retire from river to river, and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct,

-- 430 --

and others have left but remnants, to preserve, for a while, their once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites, with their arts of civilization, which, by destroying the resources of the savage, doom him to weakness and decay; the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware, is fast overtaking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this fate surely awaits them, if they remain within the limits of the States, does not admit of a doubt. Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new States, whose limits they could control. That step cannot be retraced; a State cannot be dismembered by Congress, or restricted in the exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those States, and of every State, actuated by feelings of justice, and a regard for our national honor, submit to you the interesting question, whether something cannot be done, consistently with the rights of the States, to preserve this much injured race?

"As a means of effecting this end, I suggest, for your consideration, the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi, and without the limits of any State or Territory, now formed, to be guarantied to the Indian tribes, as long as they shall occupy it: each tribe having a distinct control over the portion designated for its use. There they may be secured in the enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United States than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the frontier, and between the several tribes. There the benevolent may endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization; and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race, and to attest the humanity and justice of this Government.

"This emigration should be voluntary: for it would be as cruel as unjust to compel the aborigines to abandon the graves of their fathers, and seek a home in a distant land. But they should be distinctly informed that, if they remain within the limits of the States, they must be subject to their laws. In return for their obedience, as individuals, they will, without doubt, be protected in the enjoyment of those possessions which they have improved by their industry. But it seems visionary for me to suppose, that, in this state of things, claims can be allowed on tracts of country on which they have neither dwelt nor made improvements, merely because they have seen them from the mountain, or passed them in the chase. Submitting to the laws of the State, and receiving, like other citizens, protection in their persons and property, they will, ere long, become merged in the mass of our population." 583

In the month of May, 1830, Congress passed an act, authorizing the necessary exchanges and purchases of lands from the indigenous tribes west of the Mississippi. This act legalizes the removal of the Indians, guaranties them the possession of their

-- 431 --

new lands, and agrees to defend them in their sovereignty; grants compensation for improvements made on their late possessions, and appropriates $500,000, with which to commence the removal of the tribes. 584

-- 432 --

Chapter II. — Policy of the Removal of the Tribes to the West.

IN his message to Congress, sent to that body on the 4th of December, 1830, President Jackson again presented this topic to their notice, and, with an appreciative sense of its importance, solicited for it their mature consideration.

"It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements, is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress; and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes, also, to seek the same obvious advantages.

"The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments, on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north, and Louisiana on the south, to the settlement of the whites, it will incalculably strengthen the south-western frontier, and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasion without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi, and the western part of Alabama, of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way, and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government, and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits, and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community. These consequences, some of them so certain, and the rest so probable, make the complete execution of the plan sanctioned by Congress at their last session an object of much solicitude.

-- 433 --

"Toward the aborigines of the country, no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits, and to make them a happy and prosperous people. I have endeavored to impress upon them my own solemn convictions of the duties and powers of the General Government in relation to the State authorities. For the justice of the laws passed by the States within the scope of their reserved powers, they are not responsible to this Government. As individuals, we may entertain and express our opinions of their acts; but as a Government, we have as little right to control them as we have to prescribe laws to foreign nations.

"With a full understanding of the subject, the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes have, with great unanimity, determined to avail themselves of the liberal offers presented by the act of Congress, and have agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi river. Treaties have been made with them, which, in due season, will be submitted for consideration. In negotiating these treaties, they were made to understand their true condition; and they have preferred maintaining their independence in the western forests to submitting to the laws of the States in which they now reside. These treaties, being probably the last which will ever be made with them, are characterized by great liberality on the part of the Government. They give the Indians a liberal sum in consideration of their removal, and comfortable subsistence on their arrival at their new homes. If it be their real interest to maintain a separate existence, they will there be at liberty to do so without the inconveniences and vexations to which they would unavoidably have been subject in Alabama and Mississippi.

"Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it. But its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and, one by one, have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race, and to tread on the graves of extinct nations, excites melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes, as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the West, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated, or has disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes. 585 Nor is there anything in this which, upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests, and ranged by a few thousand savages, to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms; embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute; occupied by more than twelve millions of happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?

-- 434 --

"The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change, by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated, or have melted away, to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward; and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to a land where their existence may be prolonged, and perhaps made perpetual. Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did, or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land, our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children, by thousands, yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does humanity weep at these painful separations from everything, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy, that our country affords scope, where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and faculties of man in their highest perfection. These remove hundreds, and almost thousands of miles, at their own expense, purchase the lands they occupy, and support themselves at their new home from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government, when, by events which it cannot control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home, to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

"And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States, and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.

"In the consummation of a policy originating at an early period, and steadily pursued by every administration within the present century, so just to the States, and so generous to the Indians, the Executive feels it has a right to expect the co-operation of Congress, and of all good and disinterested men. The States, moreover, have a right to demand it. It was, substantially, a part of the compact which made them members of our confederacy. With Georgia there is an express contract; with the new States an implied one, of equal obligation. Why, in authorizing Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama to form constitutions, and become separate States, did Congress include within their limits extensive tracts of Indian lands, and,

-- 435 --

in some instances, powerful Indian tribes? Was it not understood, by both parties, that the power of the States was to be co-extensive with their limits, and that, with all convenient despatch, the General Government should extinguish the Indian title, and remove every obstruction to the complete jurisdiction of the State governments over the soil? Probably not one of those States would have accepted a separate existence, certainly it would never have been granted by Congress, had it been understood that they were to be confined forever to those small portions of their nominal territory, the Indian title to which had, at the time, been extinguished.

"It is, therefore, a duty which this government owes to the new States, to extinguish, as soon as possible, the Indian title to all lands which Congress themselves have included within their limits. When this is done, the duties of the General Government, in relation to the States and Indians within their limits, are at an end. The Indians may leave the State or not, as they choose. The purchase of their lands does not alter, in the least, their personal relations to the State Government. No act of the General Government has ever been deemed necessary to give the States jurisdiction over the persons of the Indians. That they possess, by virtue of their sovereign power within their own limits, in as full a manner before as after the purchase of the Indian lands; nor can this Government add to or diminish it.

"May we not hope, therefore, that all good citizens, and none more zealously than those who think the Indians oppressed by subjection to the laws of the States, will unite in attempting to open the eyes of those children of the forest to their true condition; and, by a speedy removal, to relieve them from the evils, real or imaginary, present or prospective, with which they may be supposed to be threatened." 586

Obvious as these views were, to men familiar with history, and the civil polity of nations, the Indians were slow to comprehend, and loth to admit them. Meantime, Georgia and Alabama sedulously pressed the subject on the notice of the Government, which, at length made provision for the settlement of the question, as a necessary measure for preserving the quiet, and promoting the prosperity of the States. Time was, however, required to adjust the controversy; the discussions, meantime, being continued with vigor. One year later, 587 the Executive again presented the subject to Congress, and acquainted them of the progress of the experiment, at the same time expressing his decided conviction, that colonization was the only feasible method of relieving both the States and the Indian tribes from their constantly accumulating embarrassments.

"Time and experience have proved that the abode of the native Indian within their limits is dangerous to their peace, and injurious to himself. In accordance with my recommendation at a former session of Congress, an appropriation of $500,000 was made, to aid the voluntary removal of the various tribes beyond the limits of the States. At the last session, I had the happiness to announce that the Chickasaws and

-- 436 --

Choctaws had accepted the generous offer of the Government, and agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi river, by which the whole of the State of Mississippi, and the western part of Alabama, will be freed from Indian occupancy, and opened to a civilized population. The treaties with these tribes are in a course of execution, and their removal, it is hoped, will be completed in the course of 1832.

"At the request of the authorities of Georgia, the registration of Cherokee Indians for emigration has been resumed, and it is confidently expected that one half, if not two-thirds, of that tribe, will follow the wise example of their more westerly brethren. Those who prefer remaining at their present homes, will hereafter be governed by the laws of Georgia, as all her citizens are, and cease to be the objects of peculiar care on the part of the General Government.

"During the present year, the attention of the Government has been particularly directed to those tribes in the powerful and growing State of Ohio, where considerable tracts of the finest lands were still occupied by the aboriginal proprietors. Treaties, either absolute or conditional, have been made, extinguishing the whole Indian title to the reservations in that State; and the time is not distant, it is hoped, when Ohio will be no longer embarrassed with the Indian population. The same measure will be extended to Indiana, as soon as there is reason to anticipate success.

"It is confidently believed that perseverance for a few years in the present policy of the Government will extinguish the Indian title to all lands lying within the States comprising our Federal Union, and remove beyond their limits every Indian who is not willing to submit to their laws. Thus will all conflicting claims to jurisdiction between the States and the Indian tribes be put to rest. It is pleasing to reflect that results so beneficial, not only to the States immediately concerned, but to the harmony of the Union, will have been accomplished by measures equally advantageous to the Indians. What the native savages become when surrounded by a dense population, and by mixing with the whites, may be seen in the miserable remnants of a few eastern tribes, deprived of political and civil rights, forbidden to make contracts, and subjected to guardians, dragging out a wretched existence, without excitement, without hope, and almost without thought.

"But the removal of the Indians beyond the limits and jurisdiction of the States, does not place them beyond the reach of philanthropic aid and Christian instruction. On the contrary, those whom philanthropy or religion may induce to live among them in their new abode, will be more free in the exercise of their benevolent functions, than if they had remained within the limits of the States, embarrassed by their internal regulations. Now, subject to no control but the superintending agency of the General Government, exercised with the sole view of preserving peace, they may proceed unmolested in the interesting experiment of gradually advancing a community of American Indians from barbarism to the habits and enjoyments of civilized life." 588

-- 437 --

Chapter III. — Effects of the Growth and Expansion of the States, on the Indian Tribes Who had Long Lived in Juxtaposition with Them. The Policy to be Pursued.

PETITIONS were presented to Congress in favor of the rights of the Indians, and also remonstrances against their removal, some of which were the elaborate productions of benevolent societies, while others emanated from distinguished individuals. The citizens of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania took a prominent part in these efforts. In the autumn of this year, 589 the Secretary of War, to whom was entrusted the execution of the act of March 28, 1830, presented a comprehensive report to Congress, in which the subject is viewed in all its aspects, speculative and practical, theoretical and demonstrative.

"The condition and prospects of the aboriginal tribes within the limits of the United States, are yet the subjects of anxious solicitude to the Government. Circumstances have occurred within a few years, which have produced important changes in the intercourse between them and us. In some of the States, they have been brought within the operation of the ordinary municipal laws, and their regulations have been abrogated by legislative enactments. This procedure renders most of the provisions of the various acts of Congress upon this subject inoperative; and a crisis in our Indian affairs has evidently arrived, which calls for the establishment of a system of policy adapted to the existing state of things, and calculated to fix, upon a permanent basis, the future destiny of the Indians. Whatever change may be contemplated in their condition or situation, no one will advocate the employment of force or improper influence in effecting it. It is due to the character of the Government and the feelings of the country, not less than to the moral and physical imbecility of this unhappy race, that a spirit of kindness and forbearance should mark the whole course of our intercommunication with them. The great object, after satisfying ourselves what would best ensure their permanent welfare, should be to satisfy them of the integrity of our views, and of the wisdom of the course recommended to them. There is

-- 438 --

enough in the retrospect for serious reflection on our part, and for unpleasant recollection on theirs; and it is only by a dispassionate examination of the subject, and by prudent and timely measures, that we can hope to repair the errors of the past by the exertions of the future.

"The Indians, who are placed in immediate contact with the settled portions of the United States, have now the alternative presented to them, of remaining in their present positions, or of migrating to the country west of the Mississippi. If they are induced to prefer the former, their political condition becomes a subject of serious consideration. They must either retain all those institutions, which constitute them a peculiar people, both socially and politically, or they must become a portion of that great community which is gathering around them, responsible to its laws, and looking to them for protection.

"Can they expect to maintain that quasi independence they have heretofore enjoyed? and, could they so maintain it, would the privilege be beneficial to them?

"The right to extend their laws over all persons living within their boundaries, has been claimed and exercised by many of the States. The Executive of the United States has, on full consideration, decided that there is no power in that department, to interpose any obstacle to the assumption of this authority. As upon this co-ordinate branch of the Government devolves the execution of the laws, and particularly many of the most important provisions in the various acts regulating intercourse with the Indians, it is difficult to conceive how these provisions can be enforced, after the President has determined they have been abrogated by a state of things inconsistent with their obligations. How prosecutions can be conducted, trespassers removed by military power, and other acts performed, which require the co-operation of the Executive, either in their initiation or progress.

"I do not presume to discuss this question; I find it determined, and the settled policy of the Government already in operation. Whatever diversity of opinion there may be upon the subject, those who are most opposed to these views will probably admit that the question is a doubtful one, complicated in its relations, and pregnant with serious consequences. The claim of exemption from the operation of the State laws, which is presented in favor of the Indians, must rest upon the Constitution of the United States, upon natural right, or upon conventional engagements. If upon the former, it may be doubted whether that instrument contains any grant of authority to the General Government, which necessarily divests the State Legislatures of their jurisdiction over any class of people, living within their respective limits. The two provisions which can alone bear upon the subject, seem to have far different objects in view. If the claim rest upon natural right, it may be doubted whether the condition and institutions of this rude people do not give, to the civilized communities around whom and among whom they live, the right of guardianship over them; and whether this view is not fortified by the practice of all other civilized nations, under similar

-- 439 --

circumstances, a practice which, in its extent and exercise, has varied from time to time, as the relative circumstances of the parties have varied; but of whose limitations the civilized communities have been, and must be, the judges. And, besides, if the Indian tribes are independent of the State authorities, on account of the natural and relative rights of both, these tribes are equally independent of the authorities of the United States. The claim, upon this ground, places the parties in the attitude of entire independence; for the question, then, in not how we have divided our political power between the confederated Government and its members, and to which we have entrusted the exercise of this supervisory authority, but whether the laws of nature give to either any authority upon the subject. But, if the claim rest upon alleged conventional engagements, it may then be doubted whether, in all our treaties with the Indian tribes, there is any stipulation incompatible with the exercise of the power of legislation over them. For if there were, the legislative power of Congress, as well as that of the respective States, would be annihilated, and the treaties alone would regulate the intercourse between the parties. But, on a careful investigation, it will probably be found that, in none of our treaties with the Indian tribes, is there any guaranty of political rights incompatible with the exercise of the power of legislation. These instruments are generally either treaties of peace, or of cession. The former restore and secure to the Indians interests of which they were deprived be conquest; and the latter define the boundaries of cessions or reservations, and prescribe the terms used should be expounded agreeably to the nature of the subject-matter, and to the relations previously subsisting between the parties. If general expressions are not controlled by these principles, then the term ‘their land,’ or, as it is elsewhere called, ‘their hunting grounds,’ instead of meaning what our own negotiators, and the Indians themselves, understood, that possessory right which they have heretofore enjoyed, would at once change our whole system of policy, and leave them as free to sell, as it would individuals or nations to buy, those large, unappropriated districts, which are rather visited than possessed by the Indians.

"It may be remarked, that all rights secured by treaty stipulations are wholly independent of this question of jurisdiction. If the Indians are subject to the legislative authority of the United States, that authority will no doubt be exercised so as not to contravene those rights. If they are subject to the respective States, such, too, will be the course of legislation ove them. And if, unadvisedly, any right should be impaired, the Indians have the same resort as our own citizens to the tribunals of justice for redress; for the law, while it claims their obedience, provides for their security. The supremacy of the State governments is neither inconsistent with our obligations to the Indians, nor are these necessarily impaired by it. It may be difficult to define precisely the nature of their possessory right, but on one will contend that it give them

-- 440 --

the absolute title of the land with all its attributes; and every one will probably concede that they are entitled to as much as is necessary to their comfortable subsistence. If we have entered into any stipulations with them, of which, however, I am not aware, inconsistent with the limited powers of the Government, or interfering with paramount obligations, the remedy is obvious. Let ample compensation be made to them by the United States, in a spirit of good faith and liberality. The question would be one, not of pecuniary amount, but of national character and national obligations.

"That we may neither deceive ourselves nor the Indians, it becomes us to examine the actual state of things, and to view these as they are, and as they are likely to be. Looking at the circumstances attending this claim of exemption on the one side, and of supremacy on the other, is it probable that the Indians can succeed in their pretensions? The nature of the question, doubtful, to say the least of it; the opinion of the Executive; the practice of the older States, and the claims of the younger ones; the difficulties which would attend the introduction into our system of a third government, complicated in its relations, and indefinite in its principles; public sentiment, naturally opposed to any reduction of territorial extent or political power; and the obvious difficulties inseparable from the consideration of such a great political question, with regard to the tribunal, and the trial, the judgment, and the process; present obstacles which must all be overcome before this claim can be enforced.

"But could the tribes, and the remnants of tribes, east of the Mississippi, succeed in the prosecution of this claim, would the issue be beneficial to them immediately or remotely?

"We have every reason to believe it would not; and this conclusion is founded on the condition and character of the Indians, and on the result of the efforts which have been made by them, and for them, to resist the operation of the causes that yet threaten their destruction.

"I need not stop to illustrate these positions. They are connected with the views which will be found in the sequel of this report. And it is not necessary to embarrass a subject already too comprehensive.

"A change of residence, therefore, from their present positions to the regions west of the Mississippi, presents the only hope of permanent establishment and improvement. That it will be attended with inconveniences and sacrifices, no one can doubt. The associations which bind the Indians to the land of their forefathers are strong and enduring; and these must be broken by their migration. But they are also broken by our citizens, who every day encounter all the difficulties of similar changes in the pursuit of the means of support. And the experiments which have been made satisfactorily show that, by proper precautions and liberal appropriations, the removal and establishment of the Indians can be effected with little comparative trouble to them or us. Why, then, should the policy of this measure be disputed, or its adoption opposed? The whole subject has materially changed, even within a few years; and the imposing

-- 441 --

considerations it now presents, and which are every day gaining new force, call upon the Government and the country to determine what is required on our part, and what course shall be recommended to the Indians. If they remain, they must decline, and eventually disappear. Such is the result of all experience. If they remove, they may be comfortably established, and their moral and physical condition ameliorated. It is certainly better for them to meet the difficulties of removal, with the probability of an adequate and final reward, than, yielding to their constitutional apathy, to sit still and perish.

"The great moral debt we owe to this unhappy race is universally felt and acknowledged. Diversities of opinion exist respecting the proper mode of discharging this obligation, but its validity is not denied. And there certainly are difficulties which may well call for discussion and consideration.

"For more than two centuries we have been placed in contact with the Indians; and if this long period has been fruitless in useful results, it has not been so in experiments having in view their improvement. Able men have been investigating their condition, and good men attempting to improve it. But all these labors have been as unsuccessful in their issue as many of them were laborious and expensive in their progress.

"The work has been aided by governments and communities, by public opinion, by the obligations of the law, and by the sanction of religion. But its history furnishes abundant evidence of entire failure, and everything around us upon the frontiers confirms its truth. The Indians have either receded as our settlements advanced, and united their fragments with some kindred tribe, or they have attempted to establish themselves upon reservations, in the vain hope of resisting the pressure upon them, and of preserving their peculiar institutions. Those who are nearest to us have generally suffered most severely by the debasing effects of ardent spirits, and by the loss of their own principles of restraint, few as these are, without the acquisition of ours; and almost all of them have disappeared, crushed by the onward course of events, or driven before them. Not one instance can be produced, in the whole history of the intercourse between the Indians and the white men, where the former have been able, in districts surrounded by the latter, to withstand successfully the progress of those causes which have elevated one of these races and depressed the other. Such a monument of former successful exertion does not exist.

"These remarks apply to the efforts which have been heretofore made, and whose history and failure are known to us. But the subject has been lately revived with additional interest, and is now prosecuted with great zeal and exertion; whether with equal effect, time must show. That most of those engaged in this labor are actuated by pure and disinterested motives, I do not question; and if, in their estimate of success, they place too high a value upon appearances, the error is natural to persons zealously engaged in a task calculated to enlist their sympathies and awaken their feelings, and has been common to all who have preceded them in this labor of philanthropy,

-- 442 --

and who, from time to time, have indulged in anticipations of the most signal success, only to be succeeded by disappointment and despondency.

"That these exertions have recently been productive of some advantage, may well be admitted. A few have probably been reclaimed from abandoned habits, and some, perhaps, have really appreciated the inestimable value of the doctrines which have been taught them. I can speak from personal observation only of the northern and north-western tribes. Among them, I am apprehensive the benefits will be found but few and temporary. Of the condition of the Cherokees, who are said to have made greater advances than any of their kindred race, I must judge from such information as I have been able to procure. Owing to the prevalence of slavery and other peculiar causes among them, a number of the half-breeds and their connexions, and perhaps a few others, have acquired property, and with it, some education and information. But I believe the great mass of the tribe is living in ignorance and poverty, subject to the influence of the principal men, and submitting to a state of things with which they are dissatisfied, and which offers them no rational prospect of stability and improvement.

"The failure which has attended the efforts heretofore made, and which will probably attend all conducted upon similar principles, may be attributed partly to the inherent difficulty of the undertaking, resulting from characteristics peculiar to the Indians, and partly to the mode in which the operations have been conducted.

"Without entering into a question which opens a wide field for inquiry, it is sufficient to observe that our primitive people, as well in their habits and opinions as in their customs and pursuits, offer obstacles almost insurmountable to any considerable and immediate change. Indolent in his habits, the Indian is opposed to labor; improvident in his mode of life, he has little foresight in providing or care in preserving. Taught from infancy to reverence his own traditions and institutions, he is satisfied of their value, and dreads the anger of the Great Spirit if he should depart from the customs of his fathers. Devoted to the use of ardent spirits, he abandons himself to its indulgence without restraint. War and hunting are his only occupations. He can endure without complaining the extremity of human suffering; and if he cannot overcome the evils of his situation, he submits to them without repining. He attributes all the misfortunes of his race to the white man, and looks with suspicion upon the offers of assistance that are made to him. These traits of character, though not universal, are yet general; and the practical difficulty they present, in changing the condition of such a people, is to satisfy them of our sincerity, and the value of the aid we offer; to hold out to them motives for exertion; to call into action some powerful feeling, which shall counteract the tendency of previous impressions. It is under such circumstances, and with these difficulties in view, that the Government has been called upon to determine what arrangements shall be made for the permanent establishment of the Indians. Shall they be advised to remain or remove? If the former, their fate

-- 443 --

is written in the annals of their race; if the latter, we may yet hope to see them renovated in character and condition by our example and instruction, and by their exertions.

"But, to accomplish this, they must be first placed beyond the reach of our settlements, with such checks upon their disposition to hostilities as may be found necessary, and with such aid, moral, intellectual, and pecuniary, as may teach them the value of our improvements and the reality of our friendship. With these salutary precautions, much should then be left to themselves, to follow such occupations in the forest or the field as they may choose, without too much interference. Time and prosperity must be the great agents in their melioration. Nor have we any reason to doubt but that such a condition would be attended with its full share of happiness, nor that their exertions would be stimulated by the security of their position, and by the new prospects before them. By encouraging the severalty of soil, sufficient tracts might be assigned to all disposed to cultivate them; and, by timely assistance, the younger class might be brought to seek in their farms a less precarious subsistence than is furnished by the chase. Their physical comforts being increased, and the desire of acquisition brought into action, a moral stimulus would be felt by the youthful portion of the community. New wants would appear, and new means of gratifying them; and the great work would thus commence, and, commencing, would go on.

"To its aid, the truths of religion, together with a knowledge of the simpler mechanic arts, and the rudiments of science, should then be brought; but, if our dependence be first placed upon these, we must fail, as all others have failed, who have gone before us in this field of labor. And we have already fallen into this error of adapting our efforts to a state of society, which is probably yet remote among the Indians, in withdrawing so many of the young men from their friends, and educating them at our schools. They are there taught various branches of learning, and, at some of these institutions, a partial knowledge of the mechanic arts, and of the principles of agriculture. But, after this course of instruction is completed, what are these young men to do? If they remain among the whites, they find themselves the members of a peculiar caste, and look round them in vain for employment and encouragement; if they return to their countrymen, their acquirements are useless: these are neither understood nor valued; and, with the exception of a few articles of iron, which they procure from the traders, the common work of our mechanics is useless to them. I repeat, what is a young man, who has been thus educated, to do? He has no means of support, no instruments of agriculture, no domestic animals, no improved farm. Taken in early life from his own people, he is no hunter; he cannot find in the chase the means of support or exchange; and that, under such circumstances, he should abandon himself to a life of intemperance, can scarcely excite our surprise, however it must our regret. I have been earnestly asked by these young men, how they were to live? and I have

-- 444 --

felt that a satisfactory answer was beyond my reach. To the Government, only, can they look for relief; and, if this should be furnished, though in a moderate degree, they might still become useful and respectable; their example would be encouraging to others, and they would form the best instructors for their brethren.

"The general details of a plan for the permanent establishment of the Indians west of the Mississippi, and for their proper security, would require much deliberation; but there are some fundamental principles, obviously arising out of the nature of the subject, which, when once adopted, would constitute the best foundation for our exertions, and the hopes of the Indians.

"1. A solemn declaration, similar to that already inserted in some of the treaties, that the country assigned to the Indians shall be theirs as long as they or their descendants may occupy it, and a corresponding determination that our settlements shall not spread over it; and every effort should be used to satisfy the Indians of our sincerity, and of their security. Without this indispensable preliminary, and without full confidence on their part in our intentions, and in our abilities to give these effect, their change of position would bring no change of circumstances.

"2. A determination to exclude all ardent spirits from their new country. This will, no doubt, be difficult; but a system of surveillance upon the borders, and of proper police and penalties, will do much towards the extermination of an evil which, where it exists to any considerable extent, is equally destructive of their present comfort and their future happiness.

"3. The employment of an adequate force in their immediate vicinity, and a fixed determination to suppress, at all hazards, the slightest attempt at hostilities among themselves.

"So long as a passion for war, fostered and encouraged as it is by their opinions and habits, is allowed free scope for exercise, it will prove the master spirit, controlling, if not absorbing all other considerations. And if, in checking this evil, some examples should become necessary, they would be sacrifices to humanity, and not to severity.

"4. Encouragement to the severally of property, and such provision for its security, as their own regulations do not afford, and as may be necessary for its enjoyment.

"5. Assistance to all who may require it in the opening of farms, and in procuring domestic animals and instruments of agriculture.

"6. Leaving them in the enjoyment of their peculiar institutions, as far as may be compatible with their own safety and ours, and with the great objects of their prosperity and improvement.

"7. The eventual employment of persons competent to instruct them, as far, and as fast as their progress may require, and in such manner as may be most useful to them."

-- 445 --

The Indian, although slow to investigate and decide, began to regard the plan with favor; and the better he understood it, the more did he approve of it. From this period, increased activity and efficiency was imparted to the colonization project.

April 4, 1832, 590 the Creeks entered into a treaty with the Secretary of War, by which they ceded all their lands east of the Mississippi, to the United States Government, in consideration for a grant of 7,000,000 acres in the Indian territory, west of that river, to which they agreed to remove at the earliest practicable period.

At Payne's Landing, on the Oclawaha river, May 9, 1832, the Seminoles ceded all their lands in Florida, and agreed to migrate to the country of the Creeks, west of the Mississippi, there to reunite themselves with this cognate tribe. 591 This treaty provided for the immediate payment of $15,000 in cash, and the sum of $7000 was agreed to be paid as a reimbursement to owners of fugitive slaves. This, and other features of the treaty, the Seminoles did not, on reflection, deem satisfactory; and it has been referred to as one of the original causes of the Florida war.

October 11, 1832, the Appalachicolas renewed a prior agreement to remove to the west of the Mississippi, and to surrender the tract on which they lived, at the mouth of the Appalachicola river. 592 The Chickasaws, finding themselves surrounded by adverse circumstances, followed these examples by ceding, October 20, 1832, their entire territories east of the Mississippi river. This convention, concluded at, and known as the treaty of, Pontitock Creek, is remarkable for the introduction of a stipulation of a new character. The Chickasaws direct that the lands ceded be subdivided and sold for their benefit in the Land Office of the United States, which provision manifests more reflection and forecast than the tribes have generally evinced, and, in effect, has secured their future prosperity and independence. 593

October 24, 1832, the Kickapoos, by the treaty of Castor Hill, in Missouri, 594 acceded to the plan of removal. On the 26th of October, the Pottawattamies ceded their lands in Indiana, taking in payment annuities in money, and agreed to accept a location in the Indian territory, west of the Mississippi. On the 26th of the same month, the Shawnees and Delawares, near Cape Girardeau, ceded their old Spanish location in that quarter, with the view of removing west, 595 and the same day the Piankashaws and Peorias also accepted a location in that region. 596 On the 29th, the Weas gave their assent to the project. 597 On the same day the Senecas and Shawnees, of the Neosho, relinquished the title to their lands, the more perfectly to accommodate themselves to the plan. 598

Without these details it is impossible to form an adequate idea of the class of duties which originated from this scheme of colonization. The labor was incessant, and

-- 446 --

required to be renewed year after year. It was difficult to satisfy the Indians, as they were ignorant of all the primary elements of knowledge, and very suspicious of the white man's arts. Knowing nothing of the first principles of geometry, space and quantity were estimated in gross. To reduce miles to acres, roods, chains, and links, was an art requiring arithmetical accuracy. They had, likewise, no correct or scientific standard of value for coins. They required to be located and re-located, informed and re-informed, paid and re-paid. This was more especially the case with the hunter tribes, whose standard of value had not long previously been a beaver skin, and whose land measure had been a day's or a half day's walk.

-- 447 --

Chapter IV. — The Black Hawk War.

WHILE the removal of the tribes from the south-west to their new location in the West was proceeding prosperously, a sudden and unexpected difficulty arose with some tribes residing along the banks of the Upper Mississippi.

The remote key-note of the war-song had been sounded by the Wyandot, Shawnee, and Delaware prophets in 1783, by Ellksattawa in 1812, and by the Creek prophets in 1814. The Government of the Union had, in various ways, been apprised of the dissatisfaction and threatened hostility of the Sacs, and their co-tribe, the Foxes. The Sac chief, Black Hawk, or Muccodakakake (
Plate VIII.), was born in 1767, at the Sac village, on Rock river, Wisconsin. 599 His grandfather had lived near Montreal, whence his father, Pyesa, had emigrated to the boundless and attractive field of the great West.
Black Hawk was one of those dreamers and fasters, of the aboriginal race, who mistake the impressions of dreams for revelations of the Great Spirit. In his own person he united judgment with courage, and had acquired much influence in the Indian councils. Pyesa having emigrated to the West while Great Britain exercised sway over it, his preference for that power was very decided. His son, inheriting the same views, kept up the bias by annual visits to Maiden, where presents were distributed by the British Indian Department to the tribes, whether residents of the United States, or not. Tales of British supremacy, of their Indian policy, and of the grasping and acquisitive spirit of the Americans, have been circulated for years by every foreign subordinate in the Indian territory, who has selfish aims to promote thereby, and who is, at the same time, indebted to the clemency of the American system for permission to remain in the country, the policy of which he traduces.
Black Hawk had brooded over the early history of his tribe, and, to his view, as he looked down the vista of years, the former times appeared so much better than the present, that the vision wrought upon his susceptible imagination, which pictured it to be the Indian golden age. He had some remembrance of a treaty made by General Harrison in 1804, to

-- 448 --

which his people had not given their assent; and his feelings were with difficulty controlled when he was desired to leave the Rock River valley, in compliance with a treaty made with General Scott. That valley, however, he peacefully abandoned, with his tribe, on being notified, and went to the west of the Mississippi; but he had spent his youth in that locality, and the more he thought of it the more determined he was to return thither. He readily enlisted the sympathies of the Indians, who are ever prone to ponder on their real or imaginary wrongs; and it may be readily conjectured that what Indian counsel could not accomplish, Indian prophesy would. Without doubt he was encouraged in his course by some tribes, who finally deserted him and denied their complicity, when he took up arms and began to experience reverses.
Black Hawk claimed to have such relations with the Foxes, Winnebagoes, Sioux, Kickapoos, and others. Early in 1831 he sent a symbolical miniature tomahawk, made of wood, and smeared with vermilion, to the principal war-chief of the Chippewas. This warlike invitation was received at the Chippewa agency, Sault Ste. Marie, at the lower end of Lake Superior, and a report of the effort to enlist the Chippewas in this confederacy communicated to the Government at Washington.
Mr. Schoolcraft was directed to visit the suspected district, by passing through the interior Indian country, lying between the south shore of Lake Superior and the Mississippi, in light canoes, manned by Canadian voyageurs, and under a small escort of infantry — devoting the season to that expedition. He did not discover that any of the tribes were committed to open hostility; but there appeared to be a great familiarity with Black Hawk's plans, and the tribes in league with him were named. In consequence of these disclosures, and of the existing state of affairs, the spring and summer of the following year (1832) was, by direction of the Government, devoted to a further inspection of the Sioux and Chippewa tribes towards the north. 600

The Rock river valley, and the adjacent country, was ceded to the United States, November 3, 1804, by the Sac and Fox tribes, 601 with a proviso, permitting the Indians to continue to reside and hunt on the lands until they were required for settlement. The Sac chief, Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kai-kaik, or Great Kite, called
Black Hawk, after an undisturbed occupancy of the lands for thirty-two years, subsequent to the negotiation of this treaty, affected to believe that the chiefs who ceded it, and who were then dead, had not been duly authorized to do so; or, that, after such a lapse of time, his tribe was unjustly required to comply with the terms of the treaty, by crossing the Mississippi to its opposite banks. At all events this plea furnished an excuse for giving vent to the hostility which he had long felt against the Americans.

-- 449 --


Black Hawk was one of those aborigines who dwell so long on a single idea, that it appears to be possessed of sufficient importance to engage the attention of the entire Indian race. The theme of Black Hawk's delusion was the Americans, the hated Americans, who had unjustly supplanted the English in the country, and who were treating the Indians with injustice. A native of Bock river valley, where he was born about 1767, 602 he had been a regular attendant at the annual convocations of the aboriginal tribes in Canada, which has been the source whence so much evil political counsel has been transmitted to the Indians residing on the contiguous territory of the United States. It was there that presents were distributed to them, in acknowledgment of the services they had formerly rendered to the British armies, and as a means of securing their aid in future contingencies. Hither had Tecumseh come, for the benefit of British counsels, prior to, and during the war of 1812. The Indian tribes regarded Maiden as the metropolitan centre, which Detroit had been, before the days of General Wayne. The writer may be pardoned for these remarks. He had served a long time on the frontiers, in the Indian Department, during which period he became familiar with Indian opinions, on the topic which attracted their attention at that era. The aboriginal chiefs, from Detroit to the Mississippi, as high up as the
Falls of St. Anthony, and to the head of Lake Superior, never ceased boasting of the profuse liberality, the wealth, and the power of their British Father. So far as these demonstrations were confined to the limits of the British provinces, no objection, certainly, could be made to the policy; but on the tribes from the United States, who constituted generally by far the largest part of the assemblages, the effect was to disturb and distract their minds, and fan the flames of an enmity, which, if left to itself, would have died away. Meantime, the few blankets, kettles, and guns, which the United States tribes received, were no equivalent for the time lost, in long journeys, the occasional losses suffered on the road, and the actual moral degradation to which their families were exposed.

No theme is so popular with an Indian reformer as complaints of the existing state of things, compared with the years that are past, when, it is imagined, the people were wiser and better, and even spoke their language in greater purity. 603 The past is always referred to by the Indians as a golden age, and, while indulging in reminiscences of bygone prosperity, they are prone to overlook the future and neglect the means of providing for it. This was the argument used by the great Algic leader Pontiac, when he counselled resistance to the British, at the period of their conquest of the West, from the French, in 1760. The same grounds were assumed by the Wyandot, Shawnee, and Delaware seers and powwows, when the Americans extended their sovereignty over the territory in 1783; and it constituted the theme of the harangues by which Tecumseh and his wily brother preached up the war of 1812. The olden time has ever

-- 450 --

been hallowed in Indian reminiscences. The evils of the present hour are magnified, and the future disregarded. Such were Black Hawk's teachings.

In an evil hour, the chief determined to renew the experiment of keeping the intrusive feet of emigrants from his native valley, and from the flowing line of the Mississippi.
Black Hawk was then about sixty-seven years of age. 604 His features denote great firmness of purpose, and his wisdom had acquired him great respect among the united tribes of the Sacs and Foxes, as well as the Winnebagoes, Iowas, and surrounding tribes. He had undertaken to form a confederacy of the tribes; a task much easier to propose than to effect, there being no certainty how far the tribes, who hearkened to his messengers and counsels, would fulfil their engagements when the trying hour arrived. But little alarm was excited by the details of Black Hawk's proceedings. At the St. Louis superintendency, not much importance appears to have been attached to the menaced hostilities, not only because the time was so unsuitable for the Indians to make another attempt to roll back the tide of civilization, but owing to the lack of reliable information, as to how far the other tribes had consented to act in concert with the Sac chief. The officials at the Michigan superintendency, being nearer to the Indian rendezvous at Maiden, were more intimately acquainted with the state of Indian feeling, and, consequently, as considerable uneasiness was felt, the agents on the Chicago borders were instructed to watch closely the Indian movements. Everything denoted that there was an active combination forming among the tribes of the Upper Mississippi, extending to the waters of Lake Superior. The expedition directed to that quarter, in June, 1831, proceeded through Lake Superior in canoes and boats, to Chegoimegon or La Pointe, thence entered and followed the Maskigo, or Mauvais river, ascending through difficult rapids, to a lake at its source, passing numerous and intricate portages, and rafts of drift wood; crossing a portage into the Namakagan, or south branch of the St. Croix river, and then descending the main stream to Yellow river. At the St. Croix river, he was informed that the combination of Black Hawk embraced nine tribes. From the Yellow river he proceeded to Lac Courtonélle, or Ottowa lake, at the head of Chippewa river, and by a difficult portage to the Red Cedar fork, whence he descended the latter to the mouth of the Chippewa river, at the foot of Lake Pepin, on the Mississippi. In his course, he diverted from their purpose, and arrested, a war party of Indians, under Ninaba, who were en route to the Mississippi, to attack the Sioux. The Mississippi river was finally descended to Galena. 605

Indications of immediate hostilities were apparent in the spring of 1832.
Black Hawk, at this time, crossed to the eastern side of the Mississippi with all his tribe, took possession of the Rock river valley, and announced his intention to plant corn. Troops

-- 451 --

were ordered to ascend the Mississippi, and preserve the peace of the frontiers, while the utmost excitement existed in the contiguous Illinois settlements. As soon as the troops were known to be on their way, Black Hawk's warriors proceeded to the residence of the agent, Mr. St. Vrain, at Rock island, whom they regarded as the instigator of this military movement, and immediately murdered him, scalping, and mutilating his body. All the neighboring families received like treatment. The Illinois militia were promptly ordered to the frontier, and a battle was fought in the Rock river valley, in which the Indians appear to have had the advantage, as Major Stillman withdrew his forces, after a severe conflict.
Black Hawk, in his narrative, says that they retreated before a determined fire from forty warriors. 606

In the meantime, before any overt hostile acts were committed, the agent of the Chippewas was instructed to make a reconnoissance of the Indian country, extending north and west of the parts visited in 1831, for the purpose of acquiring more perfect information as to the extent of the dissatisfaction.

The following is an extract from the instructions received: "The Secretary of War deems it important that you should proceed to the country upon the heads of the Mississippi, and visit as many of the Indians in that, and the intermediate region, as circumstances will permit.

"Reports have reached the department, from various quarters, that the Indians upon our frontiers are in an unquiet state, and that there is a prospect of extensive hostilities among themselves. It is no less the dictate of humanity, than of policy, to repress this feeling, and to establish permanent peace among these tribes. It is also important to inspect the condition of the trade in that remote country, and the conduct of the traders. To ascertain whether the regulations and the laws are complied with, and to suggest such alterations as may be required. And, finally, to inquire into the numbers, standing, disposition, and prospects of the Indians, and to report all the statistical facts you can procure, and which will be useful to the Government in its operations, or to the community in the investigation of these subjects." 607

To plunge into a vast and hostile Indian wilderness, required a confidence only derived from long experience. The agent was furnished with a small military force of but twelve men, under the command of Lieutenant J. Allen. Leaving the agency at St. Mary's early in June, he passed through Lake Superior to its extreme head, at Fond du Lac, ascended the River St. Louis to the Savanne portage, and thence entered Sandy Lake and the Mississippi. The latter was followed, through its windings, to the extreme point before visited, at Cass Lake, where an encampment was formed, and the baggage left. The height of the waters being favorable, he set forward from this point in Indian canoes, with a select party, fully resolved to discover the source of the

-- 452 --

Mississippi. The search was pursued with the aid of an Indian guide, up falls, across lakes, around precipices, through denies, over drifts, and through winding channels, for three days. The result of this toilsome journey was the arrival of the party at
Itasca lake, its true source. 608

The information obtained in this journey demonstrated that the Chippewas and Sioux, whatever sympathies they had with
Black Hawk and his scheme, were not committed to his project by any overt participation in it. The Indians were vaccinated, as directed by an act of Congress, and their numbers definitely ascertained. While on a visit to the large band at Leech Lake, their leading chief, Guelle Plat, exhibited to the agent several British medals, which were smeared with vermilion, the symbol of blood; but it appeared to be done rather in a spirit of boastful self-importance, than as a threat of alliance with
Black Hawk. Information obtained in these reconnoissances implicated the Winnebagoes, Iowas, Kickapoos, Pottawattamies, and some Missouri bands. 609 Meantime, while this expedition was pursuing its explorations, the Sac chief had commenced the war, and been driven by Generals Atkinson and Dodge to the mouth of the Bad Axe river, between the
Falls of St. Anthony and Prairie du Chien. Without being apprized of the impending peril, the expedition eluded the danger, after ascending the river to the influx of the St. Croix, by passing up that river into the waters of Lake Superior.

-- 453 --

Chapter V. — Leading Events of the Campaign Against
Black Hawk.

THE effect of an Indian war on the frontiers is always appalling; a few hundred hostile Indians having the power of alarming the inhabitants, and disturbing the settlements throughout a wide extent of country. Their apparently ubiquitous character, their subtlety, and the facility with which they thread the mazes of the forest, the horrid cruelties practised on the defenceless inhabitants of the settlements, and their wild onset and noisy outcries when driven into open conflict, always make a deep impression. The ordinary militia are not adequate to the task of repelling such inroads. A man suddenly summoned from his plow, or his work-bench, to the field, has not sufficient discipline, or knowledge of camp duty, to render him of much service in sudden emergencies. Frequently, he neither knows the position nor the number of his enemies, and rather helps to increase the existing confusion and panic, than to allay it. Such was the effect of Black Hawk's inroad into Illinois and Wisconsin; and, before a sufficient force of the regular army could be drawn from remote points, the most that the militia and volunteers could effect, was to keep him in check. For a considerable time, the headquarters of the Sac chief was located at, or about, Lake Coshkinong, near the upper end of Rock River valley, or at the intersection, or on the line of the Four Lakes, now the site of Madison, the State capital of Wisconsin.

One of the most singular and appalling incidents of this campaign, was the fact that the Asiatic cholera first made its appearance among the United States troops while on their march to the scene of conflict. On the banks of the St. Clair, at Fort Gratiot, at
Michilimackinac, at Chicago, and at every harbor for vessels and steamers, the most frightful mortality occurred. A characteristic feature of this disease was the rapidity with which it terminated in a fatal result — a few hours only intervening between the appearance of the first symptoms and death. The best medical men were at fault, and had to study the features of the disease before they could cope with it.

This calamity added to the delay in reaching the scene of action, and gave the wily chief a little breathing time. General Scott landed his army at Chicago with all practicable expedition, and instantly sent forward a detachment to reconnoitre the position

-- 454 --

of
Black Hawk, and force him to give battle. A general action is, however, one of the very last resorts of an Indian captain. It is contrary to the Indian mode of warfare, which consists of operations in detail, secret and crafty attacks, and sudden movements, which are practicable only for an army unencumbered with baggage. General Atkinson pursued the Indians up the Rock River valley, where their trail gave evidence of their suffering from want of food. In this pursuit, the knowledge of woodcraft, of the Indian mode of warfare, and of the local geography, possessed by Colonel S. Dodge, enabled the commander to conduct his movements with great precision. After some skirmishing,
Black Hawk was traced across the Wisconsin river, and hotly pursued towards the west. After a harassing march, his ill-fed, starving, and worn-down forces, were finally overtaken at the junction of the Bad Axe river with the Mississippi, where a steamer (the Warrior) opened her fire on him. While in the act of effecting a crossing, the American army arrived, and an immediate action ensued, in which the Indians were defeated. Some of the Sac warriors, and the women and children of the tribe, had, however, succeeded in crossing.
Black Hawk escaped, but soon afterwards voluntarily delivered himself up to the agent at Prairie du Chien.


Black Hawk was carried a prisoner to Washington. Private vengeance clamored for his blood, in expiation of the foul murders perpetrated by his warriors; but, to the credit of the President, General Jackson, he promptly and decidedly resisted these importunities, saying that the chief had surrendered as a prisoner of war, and was entitled to, and should be, treated as such. After his advent at the capital,
Black Hawk was taken to see the military works at Fort Monroe, by an officer of the army, who was appointed to escort him through the seaboard cities, to his own country, that he might form adequate notions of the populousness of the Union. He was safely conducted to his home, on the distant Mississippi, where he lived many years, a wiser and a better man. After his death, his tribesmen gave to his remains those rites of sepulture which are only bestowed upon their most distinguished men. They buried him in his war dress, in a sitting posture, on an eminence, and covered him with a mound of earth.

-- 455 --

Chapter VI. — Subdivision of the Indian Territory into Tribal Proprietorships. Congressional Sanction of the Plan.

THE settlement of a people ignorant of letters and figures, or of any mode of estimating quantities, in a new country, where all struggled to obtain the best locations, revealed another source of official care. The proper adjustment of boundaries between the tribes in the new territories became a subject of infinite perplexity. As the Indians acquired a better knowledge of arithmetical measures and quantities, they became astute, and strenuously demanded public action in the matter. It sometimes happened that boundaries conflicted, and, whenever an interest or right was surrendered to accommodate another tribe, the United States Government was ready to grant an equivalent in land, money, or right of occupancy. The volumes of treaties contain an amount of interesting matter on this subject, which is alike creditable to the Republic and to the activity of the Indian mind. An acre, an improvement, a salt-spring, or a stream of pure water was held at its just value.

On the 14th of February, 1833, the United States engaged to secure to the Cherokees, forever, 7,000,000 acres of land in the Indian Territory, including the smaller tract previously granted them by the Barbour treaty, signed May 6, 1828. 610 By a separate article, the Cherokees released the United States from providing "a plain set of laws, suited to their condition."

On the same day, a treaty was concluded, specifying the boundaries between the United States, the Creeks, and the Cherokees, which also provided that collisions between the tribes should be avoided, and compensation made to them by the United States for the improvements they surrendered, in order to enable the Government to furnish the Cherokees with their full quota of lands. 611 By a treaty concluded the 28th of March, 1833, a definite location was assigned to the Seminoles, who had migrated to the West, and settled down among the Creeks. 612 On the 13th of May, the Quapaws relinquished their territory to the Caddoes, a cognate tribe on Red River, in consideration

-- 456 --

of a tract of 150 sections of land granted them by the United States, on the Neosho, with liberal donations of cattle, oxen, hogs, sheep, agricultural implements, arms, ammunition, clothing, the services of a blacksmith and farmer, and other advantages. 613

On the 18th of June, 1833, the Appalachicolas, of Florida, ceded certain lands, with the exception of some reservations, and were admitted, on the principle of a reunion, to share with the Seminoles the benefits of the treaty concluded at Payne's Landing. It was stipulated that they should sell their reservations, before leaving Florida and removing west, in which case they engaged to defray the expenses of their removal. 614

On the 21st of September, the Otoes and Missourias surrendered their lands to the United States, for valuable considerations, agreeing to accept another tract in lieu thereof, and to engage in agricultural pursuits. 615

Under the provisions of the act passed July 14, 1832, three commissioners were appointed to proceed to the Indian territory, west of the States of Missouri and Arkansas, to make an examination of its character and resources, and divide it into suitable districts for the expatriated tribes. These commissioners, after an elaborate examination and survey, occupying nearly two years, made a report on the 10th of February, 1834, accompanying it with the map herewith submitted. They had set apart, and recommended to be allotted to the tribes, the entire district west of the States of Missouri and Arkansas, comprised between the latitude of Red River and that of the Platte, or Nebraska River, extending west to the line of Texas, thence north along the 100th degree of longitude to the banks of the Arkansas, and up the latter river to the Rocky Mountains.

Congress having now the requisite data, and being prepared to act definitely on the subject, the Hon. Horace Everett, Chairman of Indian Affairs in the House of Representatives, made an elaborate report, reviewing the policy and action of the Government from the beginning, and submitting for consideration and approval, separate acts, for the organization of the Indian Department; for the revision of the original act of 1802, regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes; and for the organization of the Indian territory. The former of these acts received the sanction of Congress; the plan of a mixed civil and Indian government, which was prepared, having been omitted, because it was regarded as in some respects incongruous, and, on the whole, rather in advance of their actual necessities. The act of March 28th, 1830 (p. 431), laying the legal foundation of the colonization plan, was the organic law; but these acts followed out the general features of that law, to which we may ascribe the completion of the colonization plan originally recommended to Congress by Mr. Monroe, nine years previously.

The passage of these acts forms a definite period in the administrative policy of the

-- 457 --

Government toward the Indians, and marks the absorption of the Executive power by Congress, which had been previously illimitably exercised over the affairs of the aboriginal tribes. By the organization act, no agent, superintendent, sub-agent, or other official, can be appointed for the Indian country, without a special act authorizing it, and fixing the amount of his salary. These appointments are also limited, by this act, to the presidential term of four years. All artisans or agriculturalists employed by the agents, under treaty stipulations, must be nominated by the respective agents under whom they are to be employed, and their nomination be confirmed by the Chief of the Indian Bureau. The accountability of the different officials is carefully provided for; the forms of issue of presents and provisions, prescribed; and additional safeguards imposed. Under the provisions of this act no person can hold two offices, or draw pay in two capacities; and any duties properly belonging to the department may be assigned to officers thereof, on the frontiers. These definitions had the direct tendency to impart the benefits of system to the Bureau.

-- 458 --

Chapter VII. — Prominent Treaty Stipulations With the Emigrant and Indigenous Tribes, to Promote Their Concentration West of the Mississippi.

THE year 1835 was distinguished by several treaties of an important character. Hitherto the inchoate confederacy of the Pottawattamies, Chippewas and Ottowas of northern Illinois, had retained its ancient position in the vicinity of Chicago, at the head of Lake Michigan. On the 26th of September, 1833, they ceded to the United States their lands on the western shores of that lake, in exchange for a tract comprising 5,000,000 acres in the West, in consideration of very large annuities, to be paid in coin and its equivalents. It was stipulated that $150,000 should be appropriated to the purchase of goods and provisions; $100,000 to satisfy the claims of sundry individuals to certain reservations; $150,000 to liquidate the claims of debtors against the tribes, agreeably to a schedule annexed; $280,000 to the payment of annuities of $14,000 per annum, for twenty years; $150,000 for the erection of mills, farm-houses, shops, and the supply of agricultural implements and stock, and for the support of such artisans, smiths, and other mechanics, as were necessary to the inauguration of their colonial existence in the West; and $70,000 for educational purposes. This treaty encountered numerous objections in the Senate, and was not ratified until the 21st of February, 1835, and then only with certain exceptions.

The principle of acknowledging the individual debts of the hunter tribes as national obligations, had been previously recognised in a treaty with the Quapaws, concluded May 13, 1833, but the amount appropriated for that object in the Chicago treaty, and the extensive personal schedules accompanying it, excited remark in the Senate, and induced that body to question the propriety of nationalizing the debts of the tribes. The experience of the Senate also made them averse to granting large reservations in lands to the tribes, as well as to their blood-relations, especial local friends and habitual benefactors, out of the tracts ceded; since it was found that such reservations, being, in a few years, surrounded by a civilized population, acquired such a value as to render their purchase again necessary for the purposes of agriculture. General Jackson, whose experience in Indian affairs had been acquired by personal

-- 459 --

observation, censured this policy decidedly, and deemed it preferable, for many reasons, to compensate both the tribes and their blood-relations with payments in money.

In order to accommodate the emigrating tribes, it was necessary to procure the cession of large tracts from the aboriginal nations in the West, who roved over immense plains, cultivating nothing, and living principally on the flesh of the buffalo. By the treaty of October 9, 1833, 616 the Pawnees ceded a large district lying south of the Platte, or Nebraska, which afforded locations to several of the eastern tribes. The Kanzas, by the treaty of August 16, 1825, 617 ceded all their lands lying within the boundaries of the State of Missouri, as also the wide tracts lying along the Missouri river, to the west of the western line of the State, comprising the valleys of the Kanzas, Nodowa, and Namahaw.

The tract ceded by the Kanzas tribe comprehended a large part of the present Territory of Kanzas. It is somewhat remarkable, that while a geographical exploration was being made of this territory, a respected and intelligent agent reported to the Secretary of War, May 12, 1834, 618 that not over one-half the quantity of land lying within this parallel of latitude, north of the Osage reservation, and extending to the Nebraska, was adapted to the purposes of agriculture. So far from this being the fact, it is precisely this part of Kanzas which is now being settled most rapidly, is most esteemed for its fertility, and admired for its sylvan beauty. Such, however, has always been the case in forming estimates of new and unexplored countries; the mind being continually apprehensive of "cimmerian darkness, or serbonian bog." Michigan, one of the best regions in the West for the growth of wheat and corn, was at first pronounced unfit to bestow upon the soldiers of the late war as bounty lands. In 1680, that stout old joker, and unfrocked monk, Baron La Hontan, called the area of the upper lakes, now an immense mart of commerce and agriculture, "the fag end of the world." Not only subsequent to the explorations of the several expeditions to the
sources of the Mississippi and Red rivers, in 1820 and 1823, but even as late as 1836, much of the country lying north of Green Bay, and nearly the entire area of Minnesota, at the period when the country of Superior was annexed to the State of Michigan, was considered to be unfavorable, if not wholly unsuitable for agricultural purposes. A large part of the Indian territory, located west of Arkansas, likewise, at the period of the inception of the colonization plan, was reported to be deficient, either in timber, water, or fertility.

The Chickasaw Indians evidently labored under this impression during some years; for, at the original sale of their lands at Pontitock, October 20, 1832, they expressed a determination to remain on their reservations, and there cultivate the soil. Two years' experience, however, caused them to change their views. In the preamble to a

-- 460 --

treaty negotiated at Washington, May 24, 1834, they express a regret that they "are about to abandon their homes, which they have long cherished and loved; and though hitherto unsuccessful, they still hope to find a country adequate to the wants and support of their people, somewhere west of the Mississippi, and within the territorial limits of the United States." 619 By this treaty they ceded their reservations east of the Mississippi, at the same time making some personal, beneficiary, and eleemosynary provisions. They also directed the proceeds to be added to their vested funds, and agreed to send a delegation to the West to seek a location. This delegation visited the West during the year 1835, and selected a location in connection with the Choctaws, a closely affiliated people, making their own terms, as tribe with tribe.

There now remained but one question of any importance to settle with the southern tribes; viz.: that with the Cherokees, who had been the first to suggest a western outlet for their hunter population. The nation had now become politically divided into two parties, the one being favorable to migration, and the other adverse to it. The latter numbered among its leaders the noted chief, John Ross, and comprised a majority of the nation. Their policy contemplated the retention of their lands, the continuance of the agricultural labors so successfully commenced, and the fostering of the ample educational facilities they then possessed, as well as of those arts and domestic industrial pursuits which had been developed by their location in a region eminently fruitful, healthful, beautiful to the eye, and hallowed by associations connected both with the living and the dead. The emigration party contended that these superlative advantages could not be permanently maintained; that the right of sovereignty to the country could not be wrested from the States who possessed it; that schools could be established and teachers obtained in the West; and that they were offered an ample and fertile country, beyond the limits of any State or Territory, under the solemn guaranty of Congress, over which they could extend their own laws and form of government, and where the arts, industry, and knowledge they had acquired, could not but hasten the development of their character, and make them a powerful as well as prosperous people.

A treaty ceding their lands was concluded at New Echota, December 29, 1835, with the party favorable to emigration. In consideration of the payment of $5,000,000, they ceded all their territory east of the Mississippi river, and agreed to remove to the West, and rejoin their brethren already there. Twenty chiefs of high character, and possessed of influence and intelligence, signed this treaty; Ridge, Rogers, Starr, Gunter, Belt, and Boudinot being of the number. A delegation of influential Cherokees, members of the opposing party, immediately proceeded to Washington, with the view of preventing its ratification by the Senate. The subject excited deep interest, but the validity of the treaty was finally sustained. Some supplementary articles were added

-- 461 --

to the original instrument, and the Senate, by a resolution, granted to the Cherokees an additional sum of $600,000, to liquidate claims held against them. In this form, the treaty was eventually ratified, May 23, 1836. 620

Other conventional agreements followed. A treaty was concluded with the Caddoes as early as July 1 of this year, 621 though not ratified until 1836. This tribe, in whom we recognise one of the bands descended from the indomitable Kapakas, of De Soto's era, ceded all their lands lying within the southern boundaries of the United States, and expressed their determination to remove within the boundaries of Texas.

The Comanches and Witchetaws, two important tribes residing in Texas, now first opened a political intercourse with the United States. A treaty with them was signed August 24, 1835, 622 and ratified on May 19, 1836. In order that it might effectually serve the ends sought, and be not only the evidence of peace and friendship with the United States, but also with the tribes by whom they were surrounded, and with whom they associated, it was assented to and signed by large delegations of the western Cherokees, Choctaws, Osages, Senecas of the Neosho, and Quappas. The Comanches stipulated to restrain their marauding parties from encroaching on the territory of the United States; to make restitution for injuries done; to receive friendly tribes and citizens of the United States on terms of amity; and to take the first steps toward progress in civilization.

-- 462 --

Previous section

Next section


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
Powered by PhiloLogic