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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
A FURTHER and more detailed review of the present condition of the expatriated tribes, their numbers, advance, characteristics, and condition will enable the reader to judge of their present state and future prospects. At the period of the inauguration of the policy of emigration, many of the tribes who had sustained the shock of the colonial period, had dwindled away to mere remnants; others had been entirely annihilated. Such of the original littoral tribes as had not fallen victims to indulgence, idleness, and excess, had removed into the interior, retreating, from time to time, farther and farther into the wilderness, as civilization advanced.
The entire number of Indians remaining in the States and Territories, east of the Mississippi and of the Missouri, at the period of the official commencement of their removal, in 1825, was 110,000, exclusive of some 19,000, resident within the limits of the State of Missouri and the Territory of Arkansas. 695 The latest returns of the colonial population, in the Indian territories west of the Mississippi, give an aggregate of 95,657, exclusive of 7,355 persons of the indigenous tribes within the same territory, comprising principally the Osages, Kanzas, and Quappas.
Analyzing the return of the transferred tribes at that date, we find that the aggregate of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Creeks, with the affiliated Seminoles, is 82,176 persons, who occupy the principal locations south of the Territory of Kanzas. No census returns having been received from this quarter for several years, and the tribes having, meanwhile, been reported by the agents as increasing and prosperous, it may be estimated that the gross population of these four important tribes, together with the semi-segregated Seminoles, reaches, at the present time, if it does not exceed, 100,000. On these four native tribes, transferred from the Ausonian, or Appalachian range, the attention and expectations of the country have been principally centered during many years, as constituting the probable nucleus of a future independent Indian
government, west of the Mississippi. Having attained the ratio of Congressional representation, 696 it would appear due to their advance and character, that they should be received as a member of the commonwealth, or, at least, that the first steps toward their recognition as such should be taken.
Desire for applause has induced the wild hunter, for centuries, to concentrate his attention on the two only objects by which he could obtain it while in that state, namely, feats in hunting and bravery in war. The prospects are now reversed; the strongest incentives to the educated Indians in their present condition are mental and social distinction. If industry, arts, and education have not qualified them for these, then the efforts made for their elevation have been in vain. The great obstacle to the advancement of the Indian communities has been their innately suspicious character and the over-estimate they attached to independence. These have made them refuse to confederate. Perhaps, if we examine this tribal independence more closely, it may be found to resemble, in some measure, the cherished non-interference in communal rights. Tribal rights were strenuously maintained and supported by all the barbarous tribes; and it is conceded that these rights are more strongly cherished as they advance in knowledge, and pique themselves on their greater capacity for the enjoyment of them. Certain it is, that they have, thus far, opposed every project for political union. Legislative plans of this nature have been submitted to them, and urged upon them, without effect. It is a matter worthy of grave consideration, whether sufficiently minute attention has been bestowed upon the objects desired by the Indians, or such a discrimination made between tribal and general powers, as the case demands. Local and police laws properly belong where our own system leaves them, to the integral members of the compact; and it is found, as the system is developed, that the greatest importance is attached to these reserved rights. If the Indian communities could agree on the formation of a general Territorial or State assembly, on a basis similar to the Congressional ratio of representation, leaving to each division its own tribal council, and tribal reserved rights, it is apprehended the objections of the tribes would be obviated. The laws, imposing a tribal tax for the construction of roads, the erection of bridges, council-houses, schools, or churches, to establish public offices, and to award the punishment for offences, constitute so many items for separate action, on which every tribe, as with us every State, retains the invaluable right to determine for itself. The adjustment of a fiscal system, the designation of the powers and compensation of officers, the management of the general funds, and the regulation of federal officers, could be appropriately conceded to a general Indian government. To this government would also be confided the duty of making the laws by which the representatives in the Congress of the United States should be elected; and to it would justly appertain the supervision of the moral, social, and intellectual codes of the country, and the true development of Indian
nationality. Each tribe, or tribal district, would thus assimilate in power to one of the States of the Union. The Cherokee would no longer distrust the Choctaw, nor the Choctaw the Chickasaw; or a Chickasaw regard with jealousy a Creek or Seminole, or other member of the league.
A single territory, organized on these principles, would thus become the nucleus of a State. The plan of separate territories for each of the four tribes, reported to the Senate, is manifestly impracticable, even were not its provisions expensive in a four-fold degree, and some of its other features objectionable.
The industrial condition and means of these tribes are shown in detail, in the statistical tables, together with a digested exhibit of their moral condition. In an address delivered before an ecclesiastical board during the present year, by the Rev. C. Kingsbury, who has been a missionary among the Choctaws during forty years, that gentleman gave a very vivid account of the improved state of morals in this tribe. "My mission," said the speaker, who had grown grey in this benevolent service, "is among the Choctaws, west of the State of Arkansas. This mission was planted there thirty-nine years ago; then there was no gospel there not a church nor a school-house; no Sabbath, no written language. All the Indians were addicted to intemperance. Infanticide was common; witchcraft was practised, and every form of superstition and vice was abundant. Now there are fifteen churches, of the Old School Presbyterians, with 1660 members, all full Choctaws, twelve ministers, four licentiates, and one candidate. Two of the ministers are full Choctaws devoted and useful men. We have six boarding-schools, with 320 pupils, and pious teachers, where all the branches of good education are taught; habits of industry and principles of piety are inculcated. The native government is interested in this work, and has contributed $30,000 to the support of schools, having six besides those under the control of the missionaries. Then there are a large number of Saturday and Sabbath-schools; thousands of books have been printed and distributed, tracts and bound volumes, diffusing knowledge and religion among the people.
"The Choctaws give the best evidence of being a civilized people. In no part of this country is the Sabbath better observed nowhere is there a more temperate community. Thirty years ago they adopted a law excluding ardent spirits, and it is enforced. I have seen large assemblies of Indians on occasion of the annuity being paid to them, and, though liquor could be easily procured across the line, there was not a single Indian drunk.
"Though we have but fifteen churches, we have sixty places of preaching, and the elders hold divine service in them every Sabbath-day. At our last meeting of presbytery, 400 Choctaws attended, camped out in the cold, and remained interested to the close. The collection made among them for Foreign Missions was $125.25; one of the Indians giving $20, and two others $10 apiece. One of them said, ‘I remember when we gave only $3 at such a collection. Then we were poor, and carried our wood
on our backs; now we are better off, and can give more, and we must increase our gifts as our means increase.’
"Fathers and brethren, you have a noble band of missionaries there I do not speak of myself, for I am in the service of another Board and you must hold up their hands; some of them are ready to faint, and need help. Send them more men. We are told that many would go who are detained by their friends' opposition. Let them come. Your missions there are standing fair in the nation, and, with the confidence of the people, and enjoying the favor of God, they ought to be sustained with vigor, and will be crowned with still greater success." 697
Similar details could be furnished respecting the other three Ausonian tribes. The plantations and farms are well cultivated, according to our latest information, and the farms are well stocked and well fenced. Courts of justice and legislative councils are established, schools and academies cherished, churches built, and funds provided for orphans, mutes, and the indigent and unfortunate. A diurnal press is adequately sustained, and libraries encouraged. With these cheering indicia, it is not perceived why these rescued and instructed tribes should not attain a high state of prosperity and happiness. A tribe which has constructed an alphabet for the expression of its sounds, 698 and, in The Daughter of Tsaluh, has presented a brilliant evidence of proficiency in letters, grace, and manners, may well be expected to excel in learning and politeness. 699 Fifty-one schools, two academies, and 156 advanced pupils and students, at a single academy, denote an intellectual and moral vigor, and give evidence of high attainment. 700 Be it remembered that there are at this time sixty places of preaching, fifteen churches, and 1660 church-members in the Choctaw nation alone.
If thought and genius could animate a Pict, a Scot, a Celt, a Frank, and a Teuton, we are acquainted with no theory of philosophy which forbids their vital embodiment in the sonorous and graphic languages of these sons of the forest. Prometheus, it is asserted in mythological fable, invested with life a bull's hide, stuffed with bones; which so provoked Jupiter, that he deprived the earth of the use of fire. The vital spark was restored by the son of Japetus, who for this purpose visited the chariot of the sun. But, with the actual and practical power possessed by the United States, no Prometheus is required to say to the morally defunct Indian tribes. ARISE, AND STAND ON THY FEET; CONGRESS WILLS IT!
In closing this account of the present condition of the four tribes who occupy the most advanced position in the progress in civilization and refinement, the following summary of facts, derived from official sources, is submitted:
"The Choctaws," observes Mr. Armstrong, the western superintendent of Indian affairs, "have long since justly acquired for themselves, not only from the Government of the United States, but from the citizens with whom they have intercourse, a name for honesty and fidelity, at least not surpassed by any of our Indian tribes. They have, by a steady attention to their own business, since they emigrated to their present homes, greatly increased in wealth; they have not been unmindful, at the same time, of educating the rising generation, and they have, by these means, added to the general intelligence and standing of the nation. This favorable change is indicated more clearly on Red river than with that portion of the nation on the Arkansas. The wealth and intelligence of the nation are confined mainly to the two districts on Red river.
"The Choctaws may be considered as an agricultural and stock-raising people farms on Red river will compare with any in the States. They have great advantages over other tribes, as a portion of their country is located in the cotton region. The past year they cultivated this valuable staple to a considerable extent; they have eight or ten cotton gins, and shipped between 700 and 800 bales of cotton. This year some wealthy Choctaws and Chickasaws, who reside in the immediate vicinity of Fort Towson, have turned their attention more to planting corn. This change took place in consequence of the low price of cotton, and an additional market for corn at Fort Towson, by the arrival of a portion of the dragoons on the Red river frontier. The corn required by contract is about 20,000 bushels, which will be supplied within fifteen or twenty miles of the post, by Choctaws and Chickasaws. Many of the Choctaws live in comfortable houses, and, with very few exceptions, even the poorer class have good, substantial log cabins. They own large stocks of horses, cattle, hogs, and sheep: this constitutes the wealth of those who may be termed the poorer class. It is rare indeed to find a family that has not a good supply of stock. The richer class, in addition to stock, own, many of them, a number of slaves: these are engaged generally in cultivating cotton. Heretofore the Choctaws have been able to find a market for their surplus stock and grain among other emigrants; this they will not be able to do longer, as the emigration of Indians is over; the consequence must be, that the price of stock of all kinds, as well as grain, must be very low. The manufacture of salt is carried on at two points in the Choctaw nation. The works owned by Col. David Folsom, a Choctaw of respectability and energy, are perhaps the most extensive; about twenty bushels a day are manufactured, a supply equal to the demand, which no doubt will be increased as the article is wanted.
"The Choctaws have mechanics in the nation, in addition to those furnished by the United States. These consist of four blacksmiths, two of whom are native Choctaws, and all the strikers or assistants are youths selected from the nation, who, in a short time, will be able to render essential service. It is important that the nation should have mechanics of their own, as in a few years the treaty stipulations will expire, by
which they are furnished. It is expected, however, that the new school, which is soon to go into operation, will be able to furnish the nation with different mechanics, as it is proposed to introduce this system in addition to teaching letters. This, however, will be more fully explained in a report specially on schools. There is also a millwright, who has been engaged in erecting mills for the Choctaws. Trade is carried on at suitable and convenient places in the nation. The most extensive trading is at Doaksville, within a mile of Fort Towson. There are five stores at this place, three of which are owned, in part, by Choctaws; the other two are exclusively owned by citizens of the United States. The stocks of goods are large, and the assortments such as are usual in stores sugar and coffee are used by all classes in the nation, to an extent at least equal to the whites. It may not be uninteresting to state, that the village of Doaksville is one of the most orderly and quiet towns that you will find in the West. In addition to the five stores, there are a resident physician, a good tavern, blacksmith's shop, wagon-maker, and wheelwright; a church has also been erected, in which there is preaching usually once or twice every Sabbath, by the missionaries who reside in the neighborhood; a temperance society is also organized, which numbers a large portion of the most respectable Choctaws and Chickasaws, as well as our own population. I have been at this village a week at a time, without seeing anything like ardent spirits or a drunken Indian. These things certainly indicate an improvement in this section of country, highly creditable to the people, and will be pleasing intelligence to many of our own citizens.
"The Choctaws and Chickasaws, to a great extent, may be regarded as one people; they speak the same language, and have intermarried with each other, even before the emigration of the Chickasaws. By an arrangement between the tribes, the Chickasaws obtained what is now called the Chickasaw district of the Choctaw nation, making a fourth district, entitling them to an equal representation in the general council, which passes all laws for the government of the people. They enjoy equal privileges according to the treaty to settle in whatever district they may choose, and each to vote and be eligible to any office within the gift of the people. The only difference is, that each manages their own annuities or public moneys without any interference from the other. The country owned by the Choctaws, according to the treaty and the patent lately received from the Department, commences near Fort Smith, running up the Arkansas to the mouth of the Canadian, up the same to the limits of the United States, and with those limits to Red river, down the same to where a due south line, from the beginning near Fort Smith, will strike the Red river, which is the dividing line between the State of Arkansas and the Choctaws. The line from the Canadian to the Red river has not been run; it is important that this should be done, as that would show where the Texas line crosses Red river; this the Choctaws, who are more immediately interested, are particularly anxious to know. The limits thus set forth, embrace a country beyond even the imaginary wants of an Indian. It is doubted by
many whether the Choctaws would not have prospered more if they had been circumscribed by smaller limits.
"The Choctaws, as stated in my former reports, are governed by written laws and a constitution; elections are held annually for members to the general council. The nation is divided into four districts (one being the Chickasaw). Each district elects, by the qualified voters, a chief, who holds his office for four years, and is eligible for two terms. These chiefs receive a salary from the United States of $250 each, per annum, by treaty stipulation. The general council convenes on the first Monday in October, consisting of forty members; a speaker and a clerk is elected; the speaker is addressed as is customary in legislative bodies, and the whole business of the council is conducted with the utmost decorum. Each chief delivers a message in person to the council, recommending such laws as he may deem conducive to the interest of the people. As there is but one representative body, all laws that are passed by the council are submitted to the chiefs; if approved, the same becomes a law; if not, the bill is returned to the council, and if passed by two-thirds, becomes a law. The council-house is a large and commodious building, with committee-rooms, also seats for spectators. This building was erected under treaty stipulation. Much interest is manifested by the people in electing councillors, and also when they meet together; they usually remain in session from ten to fifteen days, and are paid a per-diem pay of $2. Judges are nominated by the chief of the district, and receive a small compensation; trial by jury is guarantied in all capital offences. There is no law enforcing the collection of debts. In their present situation, it is questionable whether or not payment should not be left optional with the debtor; this is understood to be the condition by every one who chooses to credit, and to a great extent these debts are paid.
"From this sketch, it will be seen that the Choctaws have materially bettered their condition by an exchange of country. They are fast approximating to our own laws and institutions. They feel a deep interest in the success and prosperity of our own people, as well as the perpetuity of our Government. They have school funds sufficient to educate a large portion of the people, beside annuities from the United States, and also an investment of $500,000, at five per cent., in bonds of the State of Alabama, for the benefit of the whole people. They have also other sources of wealth. Their laws are generally respected, and when violated, punishment is inflicted. It is very rare that acts of violence take place between themselves; every individual feels safe in his own property. Travellers pass through the nation with as much safety as they do in any country. I consider the location of the Choctaws as one of the greatest safeguards and protection to our own citizens against the wild or less friendly tribes.
"The Chickasaws, as I have stated, obtained from the Choctaws a participation in their country. The conditions upon which these privileges are granted seem to unite them as one people, except that each manages their own public funds. The Chickasaws number about 5000. They have settled promiscuously among the Choctaws;
lately they are beginning to move up to the district assigned them. This they did not do at first, owing to the scarcity of provisions and the exposed situation of the frontier. Many horses have been stolen by the tribes who reside near, and some of them in the Chickasaw district. This will now be remedied by the military post lately selected on the Washita, and at present occupied by a company of dragoons. This will give protection and encouragement to the Chickasaws to extend their settlements, and tend greatly to preserve order between the Texans and our Indians. The Chickasaws have obtained greater pecuniary advantages by the exchange of their country than any of the tribes. Their lands were surveyed and sold at a time when speculation was at its highest, and when the most enormous prices were paid for lands. The funds thus arising were invested for the benefit of the nation, after each head of a family had obtained a reservation. Some have profited by receiving large amounts; but in most cases, the money having been easily obtained, was as freely spent. It is, however, the home the Chickasaws obtained from the Choctaws that compensates them. They are now fairly settled in a country at least as fertile as the one they left, and removed, to a great extent, from the evils that were fast destroying them as a people. Their wealth, suddenly gained, gave them the means of gratifying their wishes by purchasing articles that could have been dispensed with. The consequence is, comparatively speaking, but few individuals have much to show of the wealth thus easily obtained. There are, however, some intelligent and highly respectable Chickasaws, men of wealth. As a people, they are friendly and well-disposed to our Government. They unite with the Choctaws in forming the fourth district, and come into the general council of the nation with a representation corresponding to their population. The Chickasaws have ample national funds to extend the mechanic arts, as well as education, among their people. This can best be done by concentrating them in the district assigned them. The importance of this is felt by the intelligent of the nation. Lately a house has been erected for their agent in the district assigned them. This will be the means of bringing around him many Chickasaws who otherwise would have remained away. That the Chickasaws have had many difficulties to contend with in a new country, is certainly true. They suffered much at first from the small-pox, which unfortunately got among them while emigrating. They have now become acclimated to the country, and are this year making good crops of corn. Some of the more wealthy are planting cotton, and, with few exceptions, the Chickasaws are getting around them small stocks of horses, cattle, and hogs, which, with care and attention, in a country so well adapted to stock-raising, will soon greatly increase.
"The Cherokees combine more intelligence as a people than any of our tribes. They have intermarried more with the whites, have had advantages of education, and, by their location, have had an opportunity of observing more immediately the customs and manners of a civilized people than any of the Indian tribes. There are many intelligent and well-educated Cherokees.
"The nation consists of about 18,000 souls, spread over an extent of country sixty miles square, comprising several varieties of soil. Estimating one warrior to every five souls, would give 3600. They are improving in intellectual condition: they have executive, legislative, and judicial departments; an organized government; a principal and assistant chief, elective every four years; a council and committee, organized somewhat upon the principle of the House of Representatives and Senate of the United States; the former consisting of twenty-four members, and the latter of sixteen, elective every two years. They sit annually, and are usually in session from three to four weeks. The judiciary consists of a supreme bench, a circuit court, and a district court; the first consisting of five members, the second of four, and the latter of eight. They have written laws, and a criminal code. The circuit court sits spring and fall; the supreme court once a year; the district court whenever an emergency arises. They have juries, and hear pleadings. The judges of the circuit and district benches are appointed more for their probity and personal worth than their legal attainments, and will compare, in point of moral worth, to any similar body in the United States. They are rigid in the execution of their laws; generally impartial in the administration of justice, as yet necessarily in a rude state. As many as four executions have taken place in one year.
"As a people, they are very tenacious of the management and regulation of their internal affairs.
"There are believed to be about 2000 professors of the Christian religion, consisting of Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians: the former, comprising much the largest class, may be considered the first class of Cherokees for intelligence and general integrity; there are about 4000 others, who might be classed among the first. Much the largest class of the Cherokee people are half-breeds, or what are known to be the middle class, who are ardent and enterprising, and passionately fond of gaming. When not under the influence of ardent spirits, they are hospitable and well disposed; but, when under such influence, their worst passions seem to be roused. The evil of introducing spirits among them, invariably carried in by the lowest class of whites, I do not hesitate to say, is the cause of all their troubles with the citizens of the United States.
"There are three missionary establishments located among them, of which a detailed report has been called for, and will be supplied. They have a school fund of their own, which they are wisely appropriating to the diffusion of knowledge throughout the nation, by appointing trustees to superintend the disbursements.
"The Cherokees, as a people, are not disposed to labor; but, within the last two years, there is a manifest change in this particular, both from necessity and inclination. They are now engaged in agricultural pursuits. There is no game within 150 or 200 miles of their limits. Their country is well watered, and supplies abundantly all the products known to that latitude, such as corn, wheat, rye, oats, tobacco, and hemp.
Within the limits of the nation, there are two abundant and valuable salt springs; one of them is leased to a Cherokee for an inconsiderable sum, but is not worked to much advantage, either to the proprietor or the nation. Stone coal of the finest quality abounds in two sections, adjacent to each other, in the nation.
"There is a small class, termed mountain Indians, who are ignorant, and but slightly progressed in moral and intellectual improvement; have few comforts, and plant barely sufficient for subsistence. Many of the Cherokees own slaves, and many may be called comfortable livers; all of them own stock cattle, yet raise little beyond their own consumption.
"The Cherokees have received from the Government of the United States large sums of money; some have profited by the money received, while others have lavished theirs away, leaving only a desire to be supplied, without any disposition of doing so by their own labor. These are evils which have nearly cured themselves, and, henceforth, each individual will be left to depend mainly upon himself for support. Their country is well adapted to raising corn, wheat, oats, &c., with the usual varieties of garden vegetables. Farms and neat houses are found in many parts of the nation, exhibiting signs of wealth and intelligence unusual in an Indian country. A large portion of the country is well watered. The country is divided into woodland and prairie. The lands are rich and very productive. Large stocks of cattle, horses, hogs, and sheep, are owned by the natives. Many have also paid attention to planting orchards, which are very unusual in an Indian country. Salt water is found in great abundance in the Cherokee nation. The Grand Saline, if judiciously managed, is capable of supplying a large portion of our own population with salt. Preparations are making to enlarge the manufacture of this necessary article. Lead ore is also represented to be found in the nation. Stone coal is to be found in several places. If the country was examined, it would, no doubt, exhibit great resources of wealth in minerals and salt water.
"The Cherokees are furnished by the United States with four blacksmiths and assistants, iron, and steel; also, a wheelwright and wagon-maker. Independent of these, they have mechanics of different kinds in the nation. They have also a large fund for education purposes, placed by treaty under the control of the national council. This, if properly applied, will go far to educate a large portion of these people.
"The Cherokees are governed by a constitution and laws adopted and passed by the people. Debts are collected in the usual way, by issuing executions; letters of administration are also granted on estates of deceased persons in the nation, and, indeed, all the forms and regulations usually observed in our own States. The Cherokees, in their government as a people, are in advance of any of their red brethren.
"Among the greatest evils that the Cherokees have to complain of, is the present mode of their trial and punishment for minor offences, committed (or alleged to be committed) on the persons of United States citizens, while in their nation, and upon their own soil; which broils are, eight times out of ten, provoked on the part of
itinerant citizens from all parts of the United States, tempted or induced there by gain. It is too much the habit abroad to cry out ‘Indian outrage,’ without a just knowledge of facts.
"All persons familiar with that portion of the Cherokees bordering on Crawford and Washington counties, in Arkansas, know they are industrious, intelligent, and neighborly disposed. The inhabitants of those two populous counties are distinguished as a laboring, intelligent, high-minded, and judicious people. It is not from them the difficulties occur, or complaints are made; but from a plundering, predatory class, upon whose oath, before a magistrate, the Cherokees are hunted down by the military, taken a distance of 200 miles to Little Rock for trial, and there lodged in jail to await slow justice. These are evils of no small import, and of every-day occurrence, and which produce angry and embittered feelings.
"The Creeks are more numerous than any of the tribes, numbering at least 20,000. The census of the nation has not been taken since the emigration, the annuity not being paid to the heads of families. As a people, they have less education and intelligence than either the Choctaws or Cherokees. Lately, they have given better evidences of a disposition to encourage education than at any previous time; and it is by these means that the Creeks are to be elevated. They possess as much natural capacity as any of their red brethren, and have given as strong evidences, since their removal, of their attachment and fidelity to the United States, as any of the tribes. They are a working people in crop time, making more corn by their own labor than is required for their use. In many cases, they work for their red neighbors. Many of the Creeks have separate fields; but their ancient custom of making a town field is still, to a great extent, observed. They raise large quantities of corn, melons, pumpkins, beans, and, lately, are cultivating the rice to some extent. It is said to grow well, and will be looked upon by the Creeks as a great accession to their living. They were accustomed to the cultivation of rice previous to their emigration. It is stated, by those who have the means of obtaining correct information, that the Creeks will make a surplus of from 30,000 to 40,000 bushels of corn the present year. They have a number of cattle, horses, and hogs, though not so large stocks as either the Choctaws or Cherokees. The Creeks reside generally in small cabins have paid but little attention to building. There are, however, a few wealthy and intelligent men in the Creek nation. It may be objected to the Creek country, that it contains an over portion of prairie; a considerable portion of this, however, is fertile. The bottoms are generally very rich, being heavily timbered, and the upland is very productive; altogether, the Creeks own a fine country. They complained that the country was sickly for several years after their emigration. They have, however, become acclimated, and now enjoy general good health. Water is scarce in the Creek nation. In the latter part of the summer and fall, the streams cease to run, at which time the only water, with few exceptions, is
found in large standing holes. Wells have been dug, and water obtained; but, to a common Indian, this is an undertaking of too much magnitude.
"The Creeks have four blacksmiths and assistants, with iron and steel furnished by treaty stipulations, and also a wheelwright and wagon maker. They have but few, if any, native mechanics, and rely mainly for their work upon mechanics furnished by the Government. The Creeks have quite a large annuity, which is paid to the chiefs, and by them divided among the different towns. This is done in accordance with existing laws, and their own request, which at least makes it satisfactory to the chiefs. It may, however, be observed that, although the whole annuity system, as such, is objectionable, the only equitable way of dividing it is to pay to the heads of families. The Creeks have commenced passing regular laws, which are recorded by the clerks appointed for that purpose. They do not elect representatives, their chiefs being the law-makers generally. This will be changed when the elective principle will prevail. So far as a change of government has been effected, it is decidedly favorable. I look upon the Creeks as the most powerful tribe of red people on this frontier. They were removed to their present homes, many of them against their own consent. From a series of wars in which they were engaged with our own Government, it may be expected that there are still some who entertain unfriendly feelings. These feelings, however, are gradually subsiding. The principal chief, Rolly M'Intosh, is a man of undoubted attachment to our Government. The same may be said of most of the chiefs. The certainty that the country they own is really theirs, does much to reconcile old feelings. Game has disappeared, and each has to depend on his own exertions, aided by the annuities afforded through treaty stipulations, for a support. Aside from this, the Creeks, with a moderate share of industry, have a country that will afford all the substantial of life, to enable them to raise their families. They have also limited means of commencing a system of education, which they desire to do in their own country.
"The late emigrants, or what are termed the upper Creeks, although much dissatisfied for a length of time after their removal to their new homes, owing mainly to their sufferings from sickness, and the great mortality that prevailed among them, are now a happy, healthy, and contented people, and are much in advance of the lower Creeks (or early emigrants) in the variety, quality, and quantity of their agricultural products, as well as in the management of their farms. They have larger and better stocks of domestic animals. They are likewise much in advance of the lower Creeks in domestic or household manufactures. They make quantities of cotton cloth from the raw material, planted and cultivated upon their own farms. They have also several useful native mechanics among them, such as carpenters, wheelwrights, loom-makers, smiths, &c., and all reside in good comfortable houses of their own construction. In short, I know of no people on this continent who are more happy and contented, or who enjoy
a greater plenty, than these people do, of all the necessaries of life; and I do not hesitate to say, that the present growing crop, if it meets with no disaster until it arrives at maturity, will equal three times the amount that may be required for home consumption.
"I have just returned from a tour of visitation and inspection, embracing all the upper towns; and I have derived great satisfaction in being an eye-witness to the improvements making by these people, and the many domestic comforts they have accumulated, and are accumulating, around them.
"The Seminoles have from time to time removed, until it is now understood the tribe have generally emigrated. The few remaining will doubtless continue the war with the same unsubdued spirit as heretofore, until the whole are removed. This is the opinion of those that are now west. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the chief of each party, as they land at or near Fort Gibson, endeavor to settle away from the others. This is done by the chiefs, with the hope of keeping around them a party of which they are the head, fearing that if they become united, some other more favored leader will supersede them. By this means they are scattered not only in the Creek but Cherokee country. Micanopy, and other leading Seminoles, have settled on the Deep Fork of the Canadian, the country assigned them. Efforts have been made to concentrate the Seminoles at this point. This is difficult to do, and does not meet with much favor from the Creeks. They are willing for them to settle in any part of the Creek nation promiscuously. They give as a reason that the Seminoles themselves are not suited, from their present feelings, to settle in a body, and become quiet and orderly neighbors. They have many negroes that participated in the Florida war, who will endeavor to exercise an improper influence over the Seminoles. These objections are certainly entitled to great consideration; but, on the other hand, there is danger of the Creeks oppressing the Seminoles whenever difficulty about the right of property arises, and unfortunately there are too many fruitful sources of disputed property, especially about negroes. In many cases the Creeks claim negroes who are in the possession of the Seminoles. These negroes, the Creeks allege, ran away from them before and during the Florida war, and were either captured with the Seminoles, or came in under a proclamation from some of the commanders in Florida. These negroes are now with the Seminoles, having accompanied different emigrating parties. The question as to the right to these negroes should be adjudged as early as possible, as it is one now calculated to produce and keep up a bad state of feeling. That portion of the Seminoles who have settled on the Deep Fork of the Canadian have raised a surplus of corn, beans, pumpkins, and melons, all of which grow to great perfection, and a few have raised small patches of
entitled to the same as they arrive. To give a gun to a Seminole who so lately either came in, or was captured in Florida, appears all wrong; it is, however, a treaty stipulation, and is complied with without apprehension of danger.
"Whatever may have been the importance or distinction of the Seminole chiefs in Florida, they seem to lose their greatness in the crowd of other Indians who are engaged in the cultivation of the soil.
"They have a school fund sufficient to keep up a school. By this means the rising generation may be improved. But little can be done for those of maturer years, except to turn their attention as far as possible to the raising of corn and stock to support their families." 701
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