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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
MR. VAN BUREN, on assuming the reins of government on the 4th of March of this year, recognised the Indian colonization plan as a settled policy of the Government. In his first annual message, he informed Congress that their transfer from the limits of the States had been steadily progressing during the year. "The decrease in numbers, of the tribes within the limits of the States and Territories, has been most rapid. If they be removed, they can be protected from those associations and evil practices which exert so pernicious and destructive an influence over their destinies. They can be induced to labor, and to acquire property; and its acquisition will inspire them with a feeling of independence. Their minds can be cultivated, and they can be taught the value of salutary and uniform laws, and be made sensible of the blessings of free government, and capable of enjoying its advantages." 659
The policy of removal had been fully vindicated by its practical operation.
Mr. Monroe uttered a momentous truth, when, in 1824, he expressed his conviction that, if the tribes remained in the locations they then occupied, they must necessarily perish. The Presidential influence had been, from an early period, directed toward averting such a catastrophe; but, subsequently to 1824, this truth became more forcibly impressed upon the minds of all well-wishers of the aborigines; and the dread of being
surrounded by a dense white population, as were their co-tribes in the Southern and Middle States, also operated on the tribes in the north and north-west. The experience of thirteen years had made obvious the truth of an assertion which, in 1824, appeared more like the deductions of a philosopher than those of a statist; and experience proved that the policy was not less sound as a political than as a moral question. While the tribes lived in a condition of acknowledged dependence, within the jurisdiction of the States, in the tracts of wilderness on the frontier borders of those States, or on the reservations allotted them, their position excited the public sympathy; but when the white population expanded, and the Indians were brought more immediately into contact with influences which degraded them, it became evident that they could not permanently reside in their existing locations. When these moral considerations were strengthened by the addition of a political question, originated by some of the more advanced tribes, claiming the right of framing their own laws, and establishing their own institutions, irrespective of the State sovereignty, they sealed their own political doom, and their expulsion became imperatively necessary. Interference with State rights could not be permitted by the General Government; and its toleration in aboriginal tribes, however advanced in the scale of civilization, would have been subversive of every maxim of government, and contrary to all historical precedents.
The entire mass of the tribes, and remnants of tribes, still residing east of the Mississippi, was still much disturbed by the discussion of the question of their removal; and the hope of improving their social condition by the acceptance of lands in the West, induced them to make frequent treaties. A retrospect of the succession of these is essential to the proper understanding of their history.
The important treaty and cessions made at Washington, March 28, 1836, by the Ottowas and Chippewas, and the beneficial effects of it on the affairs of those tribes, caused their more westerly brethren and kinsfolk, on the Upper Mississippi, to meditate seriously on pursuing the same course. The Odjibwas 660 comprise an infinity of bands, scattered over an immense surface of territory. A treaty with the western and northern bands of these people was concluded by General Henry Dodge, at St. Peters, July 29, 1837. By this treaty, in which the Pillager tribe of Leech lake is first introduced to notice, the Chippewa nation ceded the country from a point opposite the junction of the Crow Wing river with the Mississippi, to the head of Lake St. Croix, and thence along the ridge dividing the Ochasawa river from a northern tributary of Chippewa river, to a point on the latter, twenty miles below the outlet of Lac de Flambeau. From this point, the cession absorbed the whole Chippewa boundary to the lines of the Menomonees, on the Wisconsin and the Sioux rivers.
This important compact ceded a large part of the present area of Southern Minnesota,
with its valuable pineries, fertile prairies, beautiful lakes, and flowing rivers. By this cession they secured an annuity of $38,000 for twenty years, payable in money, goods, and provisions, beside obtaining the services of mechanics and farmers, and a supply of agricultural implements. The sum of $70,000 was appropriated to the payment of their debts, and $100,000 to be divided among their half breed descendants.
This treaty collected into one group, families and bands of the same stock, who had wandered over hundreds and thousands of miles of country, comprising the far-reaching shores of Lake Superior, and the almost illimitable steppes of the Upper Mississippi.
The Chippewas of Saganaw, in Michigan, by a treaty concluded December 20, 1837, ceded their lands in the region of the Flint, the Shiawassa, the Titabawassa, and the Saganaw rivers. By this treaty, the United States granted them the entire proceeds of the sales of their lands in the public land office, together with an amount of fertile lands in the West equal to those ceded, and an annual appropriation for schools and agricultural purposes, while resident during a limited period in the country. The Saganaws had previously been regarded as refugees from various bands of the Algonquin stock. Their central location had been occupied in former times by the warlike tribe of the Sauks; hence the term Sauk-i-nong, from which originated the name Saganaw. About the year 1712, the Sacs united with the Foxes, and made an attack on the French at Detroit. The failure of the attempt of these two restless and warlike tribes, drove them at first to the banks of the stream, since known as the Fox river of Wisconsin, whence they afterwards migrated to the west of the Mississippi.
On the 17th of January, 1837, the co-tribes of the Chickasaws and Choctaws entered into a treaty, 661 under the auspices of the United States, which provided that the Chickasaws should be located in a separate district of the Choctaw territory, west of the Mississippi, and should enjoy equal political rights and privileges with them, excepting only in questions relative to their fiscal affairs. In consideration of this location, and of the rights and privileges granted them, the Chickasaws agreed to pay the Choctaws $530,000; $30,000 of this sum to be paid down, and the remainder to be invested by the United States in stocks for their benefit, under prescribed regulations. This initial step toward the reunion of tribes speaking dialects of the same language, is important, as foreshadowing a further and final tribal reunion.
The tendency of affiliated tribes to coalesce, after long periods of separation, weary wanderings, and disastrous adventures, was first demonstrated in the history of the Iroquois, who, we are informed, in ancient times warred furiously against each other. 662 By the confederation, in the fifteenth century, of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, a native power was created, which made itself feared and respected by the other tribes; and, at the period when the colonies were sent west, they held a position
among the other savage tribes which fully verified the axiom, that in union there is strength. Nothing analogous to this organization existed among the Algonquins, the New England tribes, or the Illinois. These had no public council, or general convocation, where important questions relative to their political affairs were discussed. The Dakotah tribe is also composed of discordant materials; there being no controlling organization for the public welfare, each tribe being the sole and independent judge of what it considers right and politic.
The Sacs and Foxes coalesced on a firmer basis, social, it is true, but so closely united by the ties of language, intermarriage, customs, and by local influences, that they have preserved the co-tribal relation.
Very similar, and only weakened by their dispersion over the wide country they occupy, is the coalescence, or social league, existing between the Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies.
Chapter II. Prevalence of the Small-pox Amongst the Western Indians.
THE summer of 1837 is rendered memorable in Indian history by the visitation of one of those calamities which have so much reduced the Indian population, viz: the ravages of the small-pox, which then swept through the Missouri valley. The disease was introduced among them from a steamboat, which ascended that river from, the city of St. Louis, in July. On the 15th of that month the disease made its appearance in the village of the Mandans, great numbers of whom, fell victims to it. Thence it spread rapidly over the entire country, and tribe after tribe was decimated by it.
The Mandans, among whom the pestilence commenced, are stated to have been reduced from an estimated population of 1600 souls to 125. 663 The Minnetarees, or Gros Ventres, out of a population of 1000 persons, lost one-half their number. The Arickarees, numbering 3000, were reduced by this pestilence to 1500. The Crows, or Upsarokas, lost great numbers, and the survivors saved themselves by a rapid retreat to the mountains. The Assinaboins, a people roughly estimated at 9000, were swept off by hundreds. The Crees, living in the same region, and numbering 3000 souls, suffered in an equal degree. The disease appears at length to have exhausted its virulence on the Blackfeet and Bloods, a numerous and powerful genus of tribes. One thousand lodges are reported to have been desolated, and left standing, without a solitary inhabitant, on the tracts and prairies, once the residence of this proud and warlike race: a sad memorial of this dreadful scourge.
Visitors to these regions, during the year when this dread pestilence was raging there, represent the Indian country as being truly desolate. Women and children were met wandering about without protection, or seated near the graves of their husbands and parents, uttering pitiable lamentations. Howling dogs roamed about, seeking their
masters. It is reported that some of the Indians, after recovering from the disease, when they saw how it had disfigured their faces, threw themselves into the Missouri river.
Language, however forcible, fails to give an idea of the reality. On every side was desolation, and wrecks of mortality everywhere presented themselves to the view. Prominent among these was the tenantless wigwam: no longer did the curling smoke from its roof betoken a welcome, and its closed door gave sad evidence of the silence and darkness that reigned within. The prairie wolf sent up its dismal howl, as it preyed upon the decaying carcases; and the lonely traveller, as he rapidly passed through this scene of desolation and death, was frequently startled by the croaking of the raven, or the screams of the vulture and falcon, from trees or crags commanding a view of these funereal scenes.
Chapter III. Emigration of the Treaty Party of the Cherokees, the Creeks of Georgia, and the Chickasaws.
DURING the year 1837, the removal of the Indian tribes, and the negotiations with them for that purpose, kept pace with the progress made during previous years. It was marked by the migration of separate colonies from the Ridgeite Cherokees, the Creeks of Georgia, and the Choctaws and Chickasaws in the south. From the northern section of the Union, emigrant parties of the Pottawattamies and Ottawas departed for the West. There were still remaining, in this region, the Wyandots of Ohio; the Menomonees, Stockbridges, Munsees, and Oneidas, of Wisconsin; the Iroquois, of New York; the Miamies, of Indiana; and the Chippewas, of Lake Superior.
By the terms of the treaty negotiated by General Scott, September 15th, 1832, immediately succeeding the close of the Sac war, the Winnebagoes ceded their lands, lying east of the Mississippi, in the State of Wisconsin, and accepted a location west of that river, on a tract designated in the treaty as "the Neutral Ground;" a fine district of country, abounding in game, and possessing a very fertile soil, situated between the territory of the Sioux and that of the Sacs and Foxes. As Wisconsin filled up with a white population, and the position of the Winnebagoes, as a hunter tribe, became more and more inconvenient, they were urged by the local authorities to remove to the Neutral Ground, which they hesitated to do, from a dread of being embroiled in the fierce and sanguinary wars constantly raging between the Sacs and Foxes and the Sioux. Strenuous exertions were made by the Government to quell these hostilities, and the removal of the Winnebagoes was finally effected during the year 1837. A treaty was concluded with the Saganaw Chippewas, of Michigan, on the 20th of December of this year, by which the tribe ceded their reservations in that State, and agreed, after a residence of five years on a tract designated, to remove to the west of the Mississippi.
In 1834, the Miamies had ceded their lands on the Wabash, for a heavy consideration, and agreed to remove west; but this treaty, which was communicated by the President to the Senate, for their approval, was not, owing to certain modifications requiring the
concurrence of the Indians, finally confirmed by the Senate until the close of the session of 1837.
In order to protect the emigrant tribes on the south and west, treaties were concluded on the 25th of May, with the barbarous tribes of the Kiowas, Katakas, and Takawaros, of the prairies; and friendly relations were established with the Comanches, or Niunas, of Texas, a powerful and dominant tribe in that quarter.
But the most arduous field of operations for the administration of Indian affairs, was that in the south. The increasing population of the Southern States pressed rapidly on the territories ceded by the Indians, and made it more and more objectionable to have, residing in their midst, a people with whom they could not coalesce, and who were rapidly perishing under the adverse influence of their general habits and indulgences, stimulated by the receipt of large annuities. To complicate these difficulties, and add to the delay, the Seminoles and the Cherokees assumed an attitude of defiance, which appeared tantamount to a repudiation of their treaty obligations.
Chapter IV. Crisis of the Cherokee Difficulties. The Army is Marched into that Quarter.
EVERY year's delay in the removal of the Cherokees, and other malcontent tribes, only increased the difficulties interposed, and allowed the opponents of the measure time to originate new causes for procrastination.
To overawe the malcontents, and give support to the Government authorities, 4000 men, nearly the entire disposable force of the army at that time, were kept in the field. Not only was the war with the Seminoles of Florida protracted in an extraordinary manner, but the difficulties with the Cherokees, arising out of the treaty of New Echota, at this time reached their culminating point. The Rossites refused to remove under the provisions of that treaty; and this party, being a majority of the nation, assumed a position of defiance to the Government. The Senate had originally assessed the value of their lands at $5,000,000, and, after great deliberation, and the allowance of $600,000 more, to cover claims for improvements, and for expenses of removal, ratified the instrument. It then became the imperative duty of the Executive to see that these treaty engagements were complied with, and not suffer them to be overslaughed by a system of factious delays and wily subterfuges. No attempt was made to show that the compensation was not adequate or liberal. A territory of greater extent and equal fertility, situated in a fine climate, and abounding in all necessary facilities for an affluent agricultural community, was granted to them, in addition to the award of $5,600,000. This new territory west, being under no state or territorial jurisdiction, their own institutions and laws could be established and enforced, and the Indian mind and character have ample scope for development. No new system of policy was introduced by Government, it was merely desired to enforce the old. The course of the preceding administration had been marked by foresight, comprehension, justice, decision, and a due regard for the advancement and permanent prosperity of the nation. The people of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi having earnestly demanded the removal of the Cherokees, General Scott was
ordered to the Cherokee country, to enforce the treaty stipulations, and preserve order during their transportation; a delicate and difficult duty, which the excellent judgment of that officer enabled him to perform with decided success.
On reaching the scene of operations, he issued the following proclamation to the Cherokees, dated at the Cherokee agency, May 10th, 1838:
"Cherokees! The President of the United States has sent me, with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the treaty of 1835, to join that part of your people who are already established in prosperity on the other side of the Mississippi. Unhappily, the two years which were allowed for that purpose you have suffered to pass away without following, and without making any preparation to follow; and now, by the time that this solemn address shall reach your distant settlements, the emigration must be commenced in haste, but, I hope, without disorder. I have no power, by granting a farther delay, to correct the error that you have committed. The full moon of May is already on the wane, and before another shall have passed away, every Cherokee man, woman, and child, in those States, must be in motion to join their brethren in the far West.
"My friends, this is no sudden determination on the part of the President, whom you and I must now obey. By the treaty, the emigration was to have been completed on or before the 23d of this month; and the President has constantly kept you warned, during the two years allowed, through all his officers and agents in this country, that the treaty would be enforced.
"I have come to carry out that determination. My troops already occupy many positions in the country that you are to abandon, and thousands and thousands are approaching, from every quarter, to render resistance and escape alike hopeless. All those troops, regulars and militia, are your friends. Receive them and confide in them as such. Obey them when they tell you that you can remain no longer in this country. Soldiers are as kind-hearted as brave, and the desire of every one of us is to execute our painful duty in mercy. We are commanded by the President to act towards you in that spirit, and such is also the wish of the whole population of America.
"Chiefs, head men, and warriors! Will you, then, by resistance, compel us to resort to arms? God forbid! Or will you, by flight, seek to hide yourselves in mountains and forests, and thus oblige us to hunt you down? Remember that, in pursuit, it may be impossible to avoid conflicts. The blood of the white man or the blood of the red man may be spilt; and if spilt, however accidentally, it may be impossible for the discreet and humane among you, or among us, to prevent a general war and carnage. Think of this, my Cherokee brethren! I am an old warrior, and have been present at many a scene of slaughter; but spare me, I beseech you, the horror of witnessing the destruction of the Cherokees.
'Do not, I implore you, even wait for the close approach of the troops; but make such preparations for emigration as you can, and hasten to this place, to Ross' Landing,
or to Gunter's Landing, where you will be received in kindness by officers selected for the purpose. You will find food for all, and clothing for the destitute, at either of those places, and thence, at your ease and in comfort, be transported to your new homes according to the terms of the treaty.
"This is the address of a warrior to warriors. May his entreaties be kindly received, and may the God of both prosper the Americans and the Cherokees, and preserve them long in peace and friendship with each other!"
By the treaty ratified May 23, 1836, the Cherokees had stipulated to remove within two years. Early in the year 1837, several parties of the Ridgeites had successfully emigrated to their new location, and been received in the most friendly spirit by the Western Cherokees. These parties, in the aggregate, were estimated to number 6000; but the mass of the nation still remained. After the arrival of General Scott, and the disposition of his forces at suitable points of observation, it was no longer doubted that the day for decision had arrived.
On the 23d of July, in a general council of the nation, it was resolved to propose to the commanding general that they be allowed to conduct their own migration, and delegates were appointed to communicate this request. 664 To this the general replied approvingly, if certain conditions, necessary to ensure it, were agreed to; the migration to begin on the 1st of September, and the parties to succeed each other at intervals, not exceeding three days. These terms being assented to, and the stipulation being repeated, that the migration must commence on the 1st of September, and be terminated by the 20th of October, reservations being made for the sick and superannuated, General Scott demanded estimates of the expenses attending these removals. The Cherokees furnished details, estimating the removal of each 1000 persons at $65,880, 665 and proposed that the Indians employ physicians. To this he assented, although he criticised some of the items, adding that the entire expense of their migration would be paid out of an appropriation of Congress, the surplus of which was directed to be paid over to the Cherokees, thus furnishing them an incentive for their economical expenditure of the sum. On announcing the conclusion of this business to Mr. Poinsett, the Secretary of War, General Scott remarks,
"The Cherokee agents do not think a military escort necessary for the protection of the emigrants on the route, nor do I. We are equally of the opinion that sympathy and kind offices will be very generally shown by the citizens throughout the movement; and the Indians are desirous to exhibit, in return, the orderly habits which their acquired civilization has conferred. The parties (of about 100 each) will march without arms, under Indian conductors and sub-officers, of intelligence and discretion, who are ready to promise to repress and to punish all disorders among their own
people, and, if they commit outrages on the citizens, or depredations on their property, instantly to deliver the offenders over to the nearest civil officers of the States." 666
This arrangement being entered into, the removal was made, under the personal superintendence of Mr. Ross. On reaching the Mississippi, the parties ascended it to the junction of the Arkansas, and, following the latter, in due time arrived at their new homes in the Indian territory. No disturbance occurred at any point on the route, and they conducted this exodus of the tribe with order and propriety. In this manner, 12,000 Cherokees were removed; which, added to the 6000 who had migrated during the previous year, coincides with the former estimate of their population at 18,000.
Thus was a measure finally and peaceably accomplished, to the satisfaction of all parties, which had kept the country in turmoil for several years, and threatened serious results. The conduct of General Scott was entitled to commendation; but the initiative of this final movement was due to a higher quarter. A delegation of the Cherokees visited Washington in the month of May, and called on the Secretary of War. Mr. Poinsett told them that the most strenuous efforts of the administration would be exerted, to prevail on the Southern States interested in their removal to refrain from pressing them inconveniently, and from interfering with their migration; that this migration should, if they desired, be conducted by their own agents; that he thought the entire expenses of it should be borne by the United States; and that a military escort should be provided for them while on the route. Mr. Van Buren sanctioned these terms, and received the delegation with great courtesy. He recommended to Congress that an adequate provision should be made to meet the expenses of their removal, in such a spirit of liberality and good-will as should justly mark all the national dealings with that people. The result was, an appropriation of $1,147,067. This was the foundation of success. General Scott did not therefore go to the Cherokee country with his hands tied, but was enabled to dispense the liberality of the Government in a manner at once just and munificent. The Rossites were conciliated, and, instead of being sour and discontented, as they would have been had they been rudely driven from their country (albeit they had sold it, and been paid for it, beside receiving a gratuity of an equal territory), they emigrated to the West, completely pacified, and entertaining friendly feelings toward the United States.
In a letter of December 18th, to Governor Gilmer, of Georgia, General Scott sums up a narration of his exertions, and of his success in removing the Indians, in the following words:
"The Cherokees, as it is known, were divided into two political parties; friends and opponents of the treaty of New Echota. Of the former, there were remaining east,
in May last, about 500 souls; of the latter, including 376 Creeks, 667 a little more than 15,000. About 2500 of the anti-treaty party emigrated in June last, when (on the 19th) the movement was suspended by my order, until the 1st of September, on account of the heat and the sickliness of the season. The suspension was approved by the War Department, in anticipation, by an order to that effect, received a few days later. The Indians had already, with but very few exceptions, been collected by the troops, and I was further instructed to enter into the arrangement with the delegation (Mr. John Ross and his colleagues), which placed the removal of the 12,500 immediately in their own hands.
"The drought, which commenced in July and continued till the end of September, caused the loss of a month in the execution of the new arrangement. Four detachments are, however, now in march for the West; three or four others will follow this week, and as many more the next all by land, 900 miles for the rivers are yet very low. The other party, making a small detachment, is also on the road, after being treated by the United States, in common with their opponents, with the utmost kindness and liberality. Recent reports from these five detachments, represent, as I am happy to say, the whole as advancing with alacrity in the most perfect order. The remainder of the tribe are already organized into detachments, and each is eager for precedence in the march except the sick and decrepit, with a few of their friends as attendants, who will constitute the last detachment, and which must wait for the renewal of steam navigation.
"By the new arrangement, not an additional dollar is to be paid by the United States to, or on account of, the Cherokees. The whole expense of the removal, as before, is to be deducted from the moneys previously set apart by the treaty and the late act of Congress in aid thereof.
"Among the party of 12,500, there has prevailed an almost universal cheerfulness since the date of the new arrangement. The only exceptions were among the North Carolinians, a few of whom, tampered with by designing white men, and under the auspices alluded to above, were induced to run back, in the hope of buying lands and remaining in their native mountains. A part of these deluded Indians have already been brought in by the troops, aided by Indian runners sent by Mr. Ross and his colleagues, and the others are daily expected down by the same means.
"In your State, I am confident there are not left a dozen Indian families, and at the head of each is a citizen of the United States.
"For the aid and courtesies I have received from Georgia, throughout this most critical and painful service, I am truly thankful; and I have the honor to remain, with high consideration, your Excellency's most obedient servant."
Chapter V. Pawnee Cruelty. The Sacrifice of Haxta.
THE Pawnees have, from the earliest times, possessed the reputation of being one of the wildest and most barbarous tribes. De Soto, who encountered them in 1541, on reaching the grasslands, or prairies, west of the broad Ozark chain, calls them Apani. Three centuries appear to have produced no improvement in their manners. Living in discord with the tribes around them, they seem to have no regard for the remote affinities, which once linked the majority of the prairie tribes together, if they even have the slightest notion of such distant connection, but pursue the savage career of glory, wielding the tomahawk and the scalping knife with unrestrained fury. Their wars with the Sioux tribes have, it is asserted, continued 200 years. Their greatest ambition has ever been to scalp a Sioux, and shake the gory trophy in defiant triumph, shouting at the same time the horrid Sa-aa-quon. [
In the month of February, 1838, they captured a Sioux girl, only fourteen years of age, named Haxta. She was placed in one of their lodges, on the same terms as other members of it, and treated with even more kindness; attention being paid that she should not lack the best food, which was supplied abundantly. Offers to purchase her were made by two of the traders on the Missouri, but they were declined. After being detained as a prisoner about two months, a council of the Pawnee chiefs and war captains was convened, to deliberate on her fate. Their decision was known only to themselves, being kept secret from every person who might communicate it to her.
On the breaking up of this council, the prisoner was formally brought forth, and led from lodge to lodge, accompanied by all the Indian warriors and their leaders. The inmates of each lodge gave her a small billet of wood and some paint, which she handed to the war chief who conducted her. This course was pursued until the entire village circle had been visited, and every household had contributed its quota of tiny billets and paint.
On the 22d of April, there was a grand assemblage of all the inhabitants of the villages, to which Haxta was invited, she being ignorant of the purport of it. She was conducted by two stout Indians to a post between two trees, which grew within five
feet of each other. Three small bars of wood were fastened from tree to tree, at a moderate height above the ground, so as to construct a scaffolding. A small fire was then kindled beneath, the flames of which were barely sufficient to reach, with their highest flickerings, to the feet of the victim placed on it. Not until she was conducted to this place, did she conjecture the object of her tormentors. The two savages, having lifted her on to the bars, stood beside her, holding her firmly. The little fire beneath was then increased, and, at the same time, the men held splinters of burning pine under her arm-pits. Meanwhile, the warriors and chiefs stood in a circle around her, armed with bows and arrows, and all the inhabitants of the village were spectators. When the lighted splinters were placed under her arms, a signal was given, and, in an instant, her flesh was pierced with innumerable arrows, shot with such unerring aim, that there was scarcely an inch of her body untouched: it was literally riddled with sharp arrows.
These arrows being quickly withdrawn from her still quivering frame, the flesh was all cut off in small pieces, down to the bones, and put in little wicker-baskets, which were quickly carried to an adjacent field, just planted with corn. The leader of the ceremonies then took one of these pieces of flesh, and squeezed the blood from it on a newly-planted hill of corn. His example was followed by others, until the little baskets were all emptied. Indian cruelty presents no parallel.
Was this a sacrifice to Ceres, or to Moloch?
Chapter VI. Transactions During the Year, with the Minor Tribes.
THE removal of the Cherokees in a peaceful and conciliatory manner produced a favorable effect, although the other events of the year were of equal interest to the public mind. Positions requiring energy of action were taken by several tribes. The Pottawattamies of Indiana ceded their lands in 1833, and agreed to remove west; Indiana and the adjoining State of Illinois having filled up very rapidly with settlers on their northern borders; the rich prairies, and fine commercial marts and outlets, presenting great attractions to an enterprising people. This tribe, being the recipient of large annuities, was counselled by the traders and other interested persons 668 to remain where they were, that the distribution of these sums might be made in the country. The emigrant agent, finding his operations impeded, and fearing an outbreak, and consequent bloodshed, called on the Governor of Indiana for aid, who authorized General John Tipton to raise 100 volunteers, to assist the agent in the removal of the Indians. This duty was promptly performed, and, from the report of that officer, 669 859 Pottawattamies were delivered to the emigrant agent on the Illinois, on the 18th of September; these were sent west, escorted by dragoons to preserve order, and safely conveyed to their location; every attention being paid to their health, comfort, and convenience. Such as were over-fatigued with the rapidity of the inarches, and were sickly, or invalids, were allowed to ride the horses of the dragoons, while the men walked. 670
There were removed, during this year, 4106 Creeks, chiefly comprising the families of the warriors of this tribe who had been engaged in the Florida war; 177 Choctaws, 4600 Chickasaws, 151 Chippewas, and 1651 Appalachicolas and Florida Indians, making an aggregate of 29,459. The Winnebago Indians, of Wisconsin, evinced great tardiness and unwillingness to leave the country. The isolated tribes in the settlements became entangled with associations which it is difficult for a people of so little decision of character to abandon. This tribe, by a treaty made at Washington, on the 28th
of October, renewed the engagements entered into and endorsed by the treaty concluded at Rock Island, in 1832, after the close of the Sac war, and agreed to remove to the Neutral Ground in eight months. As this limitation expired in the winter, they solicited permission, and were allowed to remain in Wisconsin until Spring. A treaty was concluded with the Saganaws by the acting superintendent of Michigan, guaranteeing them the minimum prices for their lands ceded by the treaty of 20th December, 1837; a measure necessary to prevent combinations to control the sales, which were designed to be exclusively for their benefit.
The Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Michigan, in his annual report 671 for this year, makes the following allusions to the Saganaws:
"This isolated tribe has lived down to the present time with all the essential traits common to the darkest period of their history. They are heady, bad tempered, fond of drink, and savage when under its influence. Yet they are a people of strong mental traits, of independent and generous feelings, and warmly attached to their ancient mode of living and superstitions. They speak a well characterized dialect of the Chippewa language, holding nearly the same relation to the great Algic family of the North that the Seminoles do to the Creeks of the South. Their country appears to have been a place of refuge to the other tribes. They succeeded to the possessions of the Sauks, who were driven from the banks of the Saganaw about the close of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century. They have been observed for at least a century to have had a ruling chief, who exercised more of the powers of a dictator than is usual with the other tribes. They are known to have indulged their predatory and warlike propensities, by participating in the scenes of attack and plunder which marked the early settlements of western Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.
"The country occupied by the Saganaws is fertile, densely wooded, and abounds in streams affording valuable water-power. It is still but sparsely settled, but in proportion as the lands are taken up, the natural means of subsistence of the Indians must diminish, although it is stated that portions of the public lands west and north of the Tittahawassa will afford a theatre for hunting for many years. The recent ratification by the Senate of the treaty of January 14th, 1837, with this tribe, extinguishes their title to all their possessions in Michigan, saving the right to live for five years on two of the ceded reservations on Saganaw bay. In 1837 this tribe lost 354 persons by the small-pox; of whom 106 were men, 107 women, and 141 children. Their present population, by a census just completed, is 993; 221 of whom are males, 298 females, and 474 youths and infants. In 1837 their corn-fields were either damaged or wholly destroyed by high water in the Saganaw and its tributaries. The present year they have raised, collectively, 760 bushels of corn, besides potatoes and vegetables. Two
traders purchased of them, within the year, 40 bears, 65 deer, 35 otters, 33 pounds beaver, 570 muskrats, 140 minks, 55 fishers, 40 foxes, 17 elk, 4 moose, 890 raccoons, and 19 cats. How many they sold to others, is not known.
"The Department maintains for them a sub-agent, an interpreter, a blacksmith and assistant, and one principal and several subordinate farmers. They appear to have been overlooked by philanthropists, having, up to this date, neither schools nor teachers of any description."
On the 6th November, a treaty was entered into with the Miamies at the forks of the Wabash, by which this tribe ceded 170,000 acres of reservations in that quarter, for which they received $335,000. They were compensated for all buildings and improvements, and furnished by the United States with a location in the Indian territory west of the Mississippi, "sufficient in extent, suited to their wants and wishes," and contiguous to that occupied by the tribes which emigrated from the States of Ohio and Indiana. They agreed to send a delegation to explore the country proposed to be given them; their expenses to be defrayed by the Government. This treaty and exploration led to the eventual removal of this tribe, once the terror of the West, and so numerous and warlike that, during Washington's administration, they defeated successive armies under Harmer and St. Clair, and for years prevented the settlement of the Anglo-Saxon race in the West. This tribe finally migrated to the Indian territory, diminished in numbers, degraded in morals and habits, wanting in industry, and lacking education, but affluent in Government funds and annuities. After their final defeat by Wayne, in 1793, they submitted to the authority of the United States, and located their residence in one of the richest valleys of the West, abounding in game and all the requisites for Indian subsistence. They pursued the usual course of hunters, being satisfied if the exertions of the year afforded them the means of living; little heeding that they would soon be surrounded by an industrious population, and finally supplanted by them. In this thoughtless, careless, idle manner, they lived in the Wabash valley until their lands became valuable. They began to cede their territory in 1809, and continued that course in 1814, 1818, 1826, and down to the date of their removal. But the large sums they received through this channel had the effect to destroy their self-reliance and native independence of character, to degrade them in habits and morals, to introduce disease, and lead in every way to a rapid depopulation. This tribe, which, in 1764, was estimated in its divisions at 5000 souls, or 1000 warriors, 672 and at the commencement of the American Revolution at 350 warriors, or 1750 souls, 673 was reduced at the time of their removal to about 700 persons; and, when a census of them was taken in 1850, they had dwindled to 500 souls, 674 who were in receipt of an annuity of $44,000. 675
Chapter VII. Discords Between the Eastern and Western Cherokees. Boudinot and the Ridges are Assassinated.
THE dissensions between the antagonistic parties of the Cherokees, called the Rossites and Ridgeites, originated by the treaty of New Echota, reached their crisis during this year. The smothered dislikes and hatred of four years burst forth with a fierceness which threatened to drench the territories with blood. The brutal murder of the Ridges, father and son, and of Elias Boudinot, will long remain as foul blots on their tribal escutcheon, for, however ignorant the Eastern Cherokees may have been of moral law and the theory of government, such pleas cannot shield them from deserved censure for the assassination of their fellow-men on account of political dissensions, or independent differences of opinion. The example of civilization and liberality set them by the United States, prior to their migration west, should have caused them to forget all former causes of animosity, produced good-will and friendliness of feeling, and induced in them a lofty spirit of mutual forbearance.
To comprehend the subject, it is necessary to premise that the Western Cherokees, who had emigrated with the sanction of Mr. Jefferson's administration, and located their residence in Arkansas as early as 1817, had established a form of government and adopted written laws. When the treaty party migrated, under the supervision of Messrs. Ridge and Boudinot, they united with the old settlers, and lived contentedly under the established order of things. But the malcontent party, who migrated with Mr. Ross, in 1838, went thither with embittered and revengeful feelings against the treaty party and the old settlers, and refused to submit to the existing government and laws of the Western Cherokees. On reaching the country, the Rossites, finding that they outnumbered the Ridgeites in the proportion of about two to one, at once became sticklers for the democratic doctrine that majorities should rule. It would have been well if, in grasping at power, they had not forgotten right. But it soon became evident that they were determined not only to ignore the old form of government and laws, but to establish new ones, and to compel the minority to submit to them, right or
wrong. The Western Cherokees, however, so stoutly contested the ground, that within an incredibly short time a most desperate feud was enkindled, and the entire country plunged into discord. Neither party were as conciliatory in their views and opinions, or in their deportment and manners, as men of twenty years' experience in self-government ought to have been, and neither appeared to have duly estimated the importance of compromise and union. The words, though spoken, had no place in their hearts: one party was unyielding, the other was furious and aggressive.
A convention for the adjustment of their difficulties was summoned to meet at Tukatokah on the 20th of June, 1839, which remained in session for eight or nine days. Its discussions were exciting, discordant, and bitter. The Rossites, who were in the majority, resolved to hold their power, and the Ridgeites determined not to succumb. When it became evident that a compromise could not be effected, threats were used, whereupon some of the Ridgeite chiefs withdrew to their homes, and the council adjourned without effecting anything, except the manifestation of a deep and settled prejudice on both sides, and of the irreconcilable character of the feud. It appears, from a document before us, 676 that, on the evening when this council was dissolved, a secret conclave of the leaders of the Rossites was held, who selected forty men, to whom was assigned the duty of assassinating the leaders of the Ridgeites, that hateful party who had signed the treaty of New Echota, of the 28th of December, 1825. For fourteen years had this grudge been nourished in the hearts of the malcontent party, until it at last resulted in the commission of a cowardly murder. However true may be the assertion regarding the session of this dark conclave, it is certain that on the following day the inhuman and cruel murders of Boudinot, and of the Ridges, both father and son, were perpetrated. Boudinot was in the act of superintending the erection of a building, when he was accosted by four Indians, who solicited him to visit a house some hundreds of yards distant, and administer some medicines; he being a physician. With his usual promptness he complied, and had proceeded about half the distance, when he was suddenly assassinated. The fiends were not satisfied with killing, but they cut him into pieces in the most shocking manner. The younger Ridge was the next victim of this secret band of executioners. He was dragged from his bed, in the midst of his family, and dispatched. The elder Ridge, who was absent on a visit into the adjoining limits of Arkansas, was waylaid and shot by persons who occupied an eminence beside the road; and his body, when discovered by his friends, was found to have been pierced with five rifle-balls.
This violence excited great commotion in the nation, and, so far from checking the zeal of the Ridge party, it only inflamed it. Discord reigned everywhere, and Mr. John Ross, who was accused of concerting the plot of the assassination, surrounded his house with a guard of 500 of his adherents. Several chiefs of the opposite party took
shelter within the walls of Fort Gibson, where they were protected by General Arbuckle, who also offered a refuge to Mr. Ross, which he declined. In the correspondence which ensued between the commandant of the fort and Mr. Ross, the latter disclosed a subtle, cautious, illogical, evasive policy. Extreme positions were taken by both parties, evincing a bitterly discordant and hostile spirit. The darkest of the ensuing transactions, on the part of the Rossites, was the calling of a convention, or general council, almost exclusively composed of their own party, which passed a resolution granting an amnesty to the murderers! They also, subsequently, declared some of the leading Ridgeites outlaws. These proceedings were disapproved by the local military and officers of the department, whose suggestions for effecting a reunion were unheeded. The Government at Washington instructed its officers to demand the surrender of the murderers, that they might be brought to trial; and directed them to withhold the Cherokee annuities while this discordant state of society existed.
Mr. Ross, having evaded any direct issue in the correspondence, sought to procure an investigation of the matter at a distant point, where witnesses could not be so readily summoned, and, for this purpose, sent his brother, Lewis Ross, and two other Cherokees to Washington. A personal interview with the Secretary of War was obtained, and an appeal made by Lewis Ross in favor of his brother, in which he spoke of the murders as private acts, and of the decree of their general party council, extending pardon to the actors therein, as being conclusive of the matter. He urged that an investigation should be instituted at the seat of Government. This Mr. Poinsett denied, remarking that, if John Ross were innocent, he would not oppose the arrest of the murderers, or attempt to shield them; that, with his known influence over the nation, he might have prevented the commission of the savage deeds; but he could now contribute to the ends of justice by surrendering the criminals, whose barbarities had been countenanced, and themselves exonerated by the national council. The Secretary said that the council had no legal right to sanction a violation of all laws, human and divine; and that no investigation was required, so long as John Ross, the chief magistrate, refused to deliver up the murderers to justice. He was not charged, it was conceded, with having ordered the murderers to perform the criminal act, but with permitting it to be done, when a word from him would have spared the effusion of innocent blood. He might justify himself by withdrawing his protection from the murderers, and giving them up; but the Government would continue to regard him as the instigator and abettor of these foul deeds until that was done. Mr. Poinsett concluded by saying that the majority ought to rule, while guided by law and principle; but that they had, by their cruel, savage, and lawless course, forfeited all right to govern the old settlers, who were in a minority; that they had proved themselves tyrants in the worst sense of the term; and the Government would not for a moment uphold or sanction tyranny; least of all, brutal, savage tyranny. 677
Chapter VIII. Close of the First Decade of the Colonization Plan.
THE transactions of this year were resultant from the final performance of the remaining treaty stipulations with the minor tribes, which evidenced the complete removal of all the tribes, and parts of tribes, from the limits of the States and Territories, to a land where they could themselves exercise the sovereign power, and where they could not fail to, and did, annually prosper. But few allusions to the details of this period will be necessary.
The Cherokees, whose discordant relations had reached their acme in 1839, developing themselves in the internal discords and crimes which have been described, were convulsed by political turmoils for some years, during which unmistakeable tokens gave evidence that, however much dissensions prevailed, the ultimate result would be a union of all the jarring elements, and the institution of a permanent government. Strong wills and clear minds were to be found in their councils. The rivalries and jealousies of the chiefs had been fearfully excited by the transaction of New Echota, which, it was hoped, the conciliatory measures of the Government would have soothed; but, like a violent and stubborn disease, it could not be cured by palliatives, and required stronger applications, which, while they relieved, at the same, infuriated the patient. It required time to quell discords which had distracted the Cherokee nation to the centre; and the result has proved that time was the true remedy. No tribe of the same aggregate population had emigrated, and no other tribe which removed to the territory had been so long and so successfully the subject of instruction. A people who had invented a new alphabet, who had long participated in the school system; who had learned the arts of the loom and spindle, and had reached a condition of domestic society and manners, the refinement, tastes, and elegance of which may be judged of by the bright example of Catherine Brown, 678 could not lack clearness of conception, or the power of distinguishing between the principles of right and wrong. To deny this, as there was a Scottish element in the nation, would be as absurd as to aver
that the mental calibre of the Scottish people, at a distinct era of Caledonian history, should be judged by the examples of Rob Roy, or the actors in the brutal atrocities of Glencoe.
The smaller tribes, who yet lingered in the States, may be regarded as occupying the relative position of boulders in the geological system. They had been removed from their natal positions, and located in questionable situations. The flood that swept them forward before its resistless waves was the European race, and it seemed doubtful whether they would ever again find a permanent foothold on the soil. Mr. Monroe uttered a truth, in 1824, when he said that such a resting place was only to be found west of the Mississippi; and in 1830, Congress, by clothing it in the language of a legal enactment, gave vitality to the suggestion.
One of these boulder tribes, who, of their own accord, sought refuge in the colonized territory, was the so-called Stockbridges, comprising the remnants of the ancient Mohicans. At the period of the discovery of the rivers Hudson, Chatemuc, the Mohigan, 679 of their own vocabulary, and the Cohahatatea of the Iroquois, this people resided on its western banks, opposite to, and south of Albany. When the population of the colonies pressed upon them, they crossed the Taconic range, and concentrated their people in the valley of the Housatonic, in Massachusetts, where for years they received tuition from the eminent theologian, Edwards. They espoused the cause of the colonies during the Revolutionary war, their services as runners, flankers, and gun-men, having been highly appreciated. After the close of that contest, they removed to the upper waters of the Oneida creek valley, by virtue of an arrangement with the Oneida canton then under the government of the benevolent Skenandoah. 680 About the year 1822 they entered into negotiations with the Menomonees of Wisconsin, and subsequently removed to, and settled on Fox river, of Green Bay; but ten or twelve years' residence in this quarter was sufficient to satisfy them, that the white population would soon hem them in as closely there as they had done in New York. They entered into frequent negotiations with the Government, first accepting a tract on the banks of Lake Winnebago; but subsequently selling this, they stipulated for a location on the banks of the Mississippi. In 1840 a considerable number of the tribe, located on Lake Winnebago, in Wisconsin, withdrew from the others, and emigrated to the
The oft-tried temporizing and erroneous policy of removing Indians from one location,
within the States, to another, however remote, also within their limits, has uniformly proved to be a failure. The experience of the Stockbridges, Munsees, and segregated Delawares was now added, to prove the evil results arising from this policy. Such removed tribes and bands were speedily surrounded by a white population, with whom they did not coalesce, and naturally wasted away under the influence of adverse manners and customs.
The same attempt to remove a tribe from one State to another was made with the Winnebagoes. Having been implicated in the Sauk war, they agreed in 1832, at Rock island, where the American army was then encamped, to leave the east banks of the Mississippi, abandoning their favorite Rock river, Wisconsin, and Fox river valleys, and remove to a position west of the Mississippi, denominated the Neutral Ground. For them, however, it was not "neutral ground." It was, in fact, the war ground of the Sacs and Foxes and Sioux; and they had, under the influence of the presence of a military force, agreed to a proposition, which they had not the ability, and were unwilling, to perform. Though ethnologically of the Sioux stock, their affinity was not to be relied on; they possessed a nationality of their own, and could not, after ages of separation, take shelter under the Sioux flag. The plan of the neutral ground was a benevolent theory, which it was hoped and believed would work well, but it eventually proved to be an utter fallacy. It had, however, strong advocates, being favored by many persons who did not wish to see the Winnebagoes removed, with their large means and annuities, beyond the reach of a peripatetic pedlar's footsteps, or to lose sight of the distribution of their annual per capita dollars.
In 1837 the Winnebagoes renewed by treaty their engagement to remove to the Neutral Ground, in Iowa, within eight months after the ratification of that instrument. The treaty was not ratified until June, 1838, which would limit the period for their removal to February, 1839. They still lingered in the valleys of their ancient home, until the matter of their removal was placed in the hands of General Atkinson. When they discovered that the United States were in earnest, the mass of them removed across the Mississippi without causing much difficulty; but, though still urged to proceed to the Neutral Ground, they encamped on the western margin of the river, where they were allowed to remain until the following year. Meantime they were afflicted by considerable sickness, and surrounded by whiskey shops, together with every temptation that Indians, possessing heavy annuities, are sure to encounter. Their agent established his buildings and shops on the Neutral Ground, where the tribe was eventually induced to settle, by the announcement that there only would they be paid their annuities. It will be seen in the sequel, that in a few years it became necessary to remove the Winnebagoes from the limits of Iowa.
A mistake of a similar kind was made with the united Chippewas, Ottowas, and Pottawattamies, who ceded their lands in Illinois by the treaty concluded at Chicago in 1833. A part of the consideration named in it was the grant of 5,000,000 acres
of land in the West; in accordance with which they were placed on a tongue of land situate between the western boundary of the State of Missouri and the Missouri river. The progress of the settlements in Missouri made this tract of land so essentially a geographical part of that State, and so necessary to its agricultural and commercial development, that Congress annexed it thereto; which act rendered it imperative for the Government to provide these Indians with the stipulated 5,000,000 acres west of the Missouri river.
Other bands of Pottawattamies, residing in Indiana, who had ceded their possessions in that quarter, were removed during this year, under the immediate surveillance of General Brady. There were also some accessions of the Seminoles from Florida, and of fragments of the segregated bands of the Black river and Swan creek Chippewas, of Michigan. The whole number of Indians removed in 1840 was 5671. 682 The Cherokee difficulties had, this year, been so far compromised between the two contending parties, that Mr. Poinsett, the Secretary of War, directed the annuities to be paid. 683
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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