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

Chapter III. — Subsidence of the Indian Feuds.

CLOSE association in civil communities for a series of years has had a tendency to allay discords. The great principle for which all the aboriginal tribes struggled, was to prevent the hunter state of society from being overslaughed and annihilated by civilization. The happiness of the Indian was centred in forests and the chase: schools and churches were abhorred by him. There have been no contentions on this score between tribe and tribe, nor between divisions of the same tribe; internal dissensions have invariably arisen from private jealousies and ambitions. These have been the real, but secret source of tribal discords. Questions regarding the disposition of funds, and the regulation of their internal policy, have been discussed and settled in both general and tribal councils. The object for which these bodies are now convened is not, as formerly, during the hunter state of the tribes, to discuss the policy of proclaiming war or concluding peace, and to wrangle with each other respecting trespasses on tribal boundaries, but to adjust their civil affairs. Morals, education, arts, and agriculture, respectively, occupy a share of attention in these public assemblies; and the progressive improvement in the Indian character has been so easy and imperceptible, that their councils and assemblies have been completely changed, in a few years, from arenas for the display of wrangling, and disputatious and declamatory elocution, to legislative bodies, whose meetings are characterized by calm and sober discussion and dispassionate decision. Reference is had particularly to the FOUR TRIBES. The representative principle has been generally adopted for limited periods and definite objects. The beneficial effects of temperance, a virtuous life, and habits of industry, on the manners of society, and on public as well as private prosperity, have been recognised and acknowledged as the true elements of political economy. These leading tribes have, indeed, fairly embarked in their national career, which perseverance, energy, and decision will enable them to pursue triumphantly.

The Cherokee disturbance, once so threatening, has entirely subsided, and it is now evident that the prosperity of the nation was well secured by the treaty of New Echota,

-- 513 --

although the execution of that instrument by the minority gave the political and personal preponderance to the majority, and took the power from the leading, pacific, and progressive chiefs. The act was regarded by the malcontent chiefs as a usurpation of authority, and their feelings were more highly excited by the loss of personal power than by that of national wealth.

Events occurring among the Indian tribes are slow in development, and years elapse before discords are forgotten, or opinions become nationalized. This may be fully demonstrated by reference to the history of the Cherokees. Nineteen years have passed away, and the blood of Boudinot and the Ridges has not, to use an Indian metaphor, been washed from the assassins' hands. The sanguinary deeds which once harrowed up the feelings of the nation, and aroused the sympathies of the Union, have been succeeded by peace, though the atrocities are not forgotten; and the government of the Cherokees, the great bone of internal contention for so many years, remains in the hands of the Rossite party. A detail of the incidents which occurred in Cherokee history during this period, would impart but little additional interest to the narrative, and add nothing at all to the knowledge of Indian character. Notwithstanding the feelings of indignation entertained at the time against the perpetrators of these foul murders, the scene of the transactions was too remote to enable the Government to act with certainty and promptitude; and the object to be attained, however just and right, was too delicate and difficult to risk; for it involved the sacrifice of the lives of a valuable part of the nation, and, at the same time, the hazard of the possible outbreak of a general Indian war in that quarter. The true friends of the nation may feel a consolation in reflecting, that the wise forecast and decision of character which induced the Cherokees to relinquish their ancient residences east of the Mississippi, and begin a new career of industry in the West, have laid the foundation of the permanent prosperity and civilization of the tribe; and that the respected names of Elias Boudinot and John Ridge will long be remembered as the great benefactors and moral heroes of their country. Those who stained their hands in the patriotic blood of these men, failed thereby to arrest the onward progress of the Cherokees.

The present condition of the Cherokees is one of industrial and educational prosperity. They are the owners, in fee simple, of 7,000,000 acres of the most fertile and beautiful lands, diversified with prairie and forest, and watered by the clearest streams. This tract, which is amply sufficient for their growing population for many years to come, is situate on the great level, intermediate between the buffalo plains, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and the forest country on the borders of Arkansas; and is favored with a fine, equitable climate, conducive to vigorous health, and beneficial to agriculture. On its prairies, cattle, horses, and hogs are raised, without other labor than that of tending them. They cultivate the zea maize and cereal grains, and pursue agriculture profitably. Lumber and grist mills, and manufactories, are located in every advantageous position. Their style of building, and the fences which enclose their fields, are

-- 514 --

altogether equal to those of their white neighbors. They conduct their own mercantile operations, send their own products to market, and receive their annual supplies. Their government is a representative one, with presiding officers, whose terms of office are limited. They have courts for the adjudication of civil suits, and the trial of criminal offenders. The number of their schools and churches, as returned at stated periods, is found to increase regularly. Their population feels the impulses of the industry and vitality imparted by plenty and prosperity, equitable laws, general education, and habits of temperance; and all observers, official and unofficial, bear testimony to the fact, that the stability of their nascent government, the elevated tone of society, and their general improvement, become more apparent with every decade.

-- 515 --

Previous 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