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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter II. — Geographical Area, Relative Location, and Advantages of the Tribes.

THE geographical position of the colonized tribes is shown by the accompanying map. 691 Located on a territory bounded by the Red River and the Nemaha, or the Nebraska, of Missouri, west of the limits of Arkansas and Missouri, they occupy an area between the 34th and 40th degrees of north latitude, and the 94th and 100th degrees of west longitude. First in the order of location, commencing on the south, are the Choctaws and Chickasaws, who own, together, 15,000,000 acres. Next, the Creeks and Seminoles, who possess 13,140,000 acres; then the Cherokees, who have 15,000,000 acres along the north banks of the main channel of the Arkansas river, with an adjacent tract of 300,000 acres, making an aggregate of 43,440,000 acres. These comprise the family of the Ausonian and southern tribes. Adjacent to them, on the east, are the Quappas and Senecas, and mixed Senecas, who possess, respectively, 96,000, 67,000, and 100,000 acres. The Indian colony is located on the great geographical slope of the Rocky Mountains, within the limits of the forest range; embracing, in some positions on its western borders, a portion of the great buffalo plains. Major Long, who, in 1820-21, conducted an exploring expedition across it from north to south, commencing about north latitude, 42°, and west longitude, 96°, passed through these vast grassy steppes and plains, where the bison feeds on the short sweet grass growing amid boundless solitudes. 692 Colonel Fremont, who crossed the north section of this slope, in 1842, from the mouth of the Kanzas to the foot and summit of the Rocky Mountains, gives the altitude of this plain, at the mouth of the Kanzas, at 1000 feet, and states that it has such a gradual rise, that he reached the first range of the Rocky Mountains without impediment to his teams; the barometer denoting an altitude of 8000 feet above the Atlantic. 693 Schoolcraft, who had, in 1819, passed the broad Ozark

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range, tracing the Gasconade, Merrimac, White, and Osage rivers to their sources, and entered the level and fertile plains on the west, found it to be a tract of country characterized by exuberant fertility and sylvan beauty. 694

Geologically viewed, its surface consists of a drift deposit of sand, loam, clay, marl, and comminuted gravel, arising from the broken down silurian series, in which the leading strata of sandstone, limestone, and slate, are the parent elements. Over this, deposits of leaves, of the decayed forms of organic life, and of carbonaceous matter from the forests, have formed a rich mould, making the soil mellow and easy to cultivate. Much of it is level, or lying in gentle slopes, unencumbered with a heavy forest, difficult to be removed by the axe. It is, nevertheless, well watered, and there is a full supply of timber for building fences, and for firewood.

Among the advantages of the country may be mentioned the saline formation. Salt springs exist in many localities, and this geological trait is attended with the usual accompaniment of this formation, namely gypsum and coal. The discovery of efflorescent bodies of salt on the prairies, originated the once prevalent opinion that masses of rock-salt were deposited beneath the soil. Through these beds, which lie on gently sloping hills and in valleys, the Red river, the Washitaw, the Arkansas, and the Kanzas, flow out of, or from the direction of, the Rocky mountains, and, with their numerous affluents, water the entire country; the Missouri washes its borders for several hundred miles; the Red river bounds its southern line to the distance of six degrees of longitude; and the States of Missouri and Arkansas lie between its eastern limits and the Mississippi.

Geographically, this great tract of arable land is bounded by the Ozark hills, or mountains, a very broad midland range, resting on azoic rocks, extending from the Hot Springs of Arkansas, to the head waters of the River St. Francis, of Missouri. At both terminal points there arises a series of these rocks; that at the south, consisting of slate, schist, and quartz; and at the north, of granite, sienite, trap, and porphyry. Superimposed upon these, and frequently concealed altogether for a considerable distance, are the characteristic sandstone and limestone formations of the region. Through these the Red river, Washitaw, Arkansas, White river, and St. Francis, pursue their way to the Mississippi, producing rapids, but no striking falls. Connected with this central upheaval of the old rocky strata, are developments of mineral wealth, which it is not designed to notice particularly in this place.

Of the climatic phenomena of the Indian territories, thus bounded, we cannot speak from instrumental observations. It may suffice to observe that travellers, official agents, and missionary teachers, all concur in describing the climate as mild, genial, and favorable to the growth of all the varieties of cereals and esculents. The cotton plant thrives, and is cultivated in the southern portion. Wheat and Indian corn are

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its staples; and grazing is nowhere more profitably pursued. Its water-power is sufficient for the purposes of mills and manufactories. That this region, possessing such a soil and climate, and abounding in natural resources, is destined to sustain a large industrial Indian population, can admit of little doubt; and, if the tribes are but true to the moral, political, and industrial principles they have embraced, their future history may be written in glowing language.

Regarding the numerous tribes of Indians who rove over the interior of the continent, between the Missouri river and the Pacific Ocean, and who are yet fascinated with the pursuit of the chase — who yet reject the principles of civilization, and still delight to rob and murder — it requires no spirit of prophecy to predict their progress, or their end.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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