Old News Stories
Chiefs Send Messages to Legislature, 1828
From Delaware Advertiser & Farmers Journal
Nov. 20, 1828
Below our readers will find a great literary curiosity,—not only a literary but a political curiosity–no less than an extract from a Message of the principal chiefs of the Cherokee Nation of Indians to the Legislature of that nation. The Message is the first, we believe of the kind ever written and treats of the affairs of the government and its internal and external relations, in a style, both for intelligence and elegance of diction, by no means inferior to that of tbe Governors of the United States. Indeed there are many of our Governors far inferior in style, and even in matter, to this Indian message. We have selected that part of the message which relates to the claims of Georgia on the Cherokee lands—if the rulers of Georgia can refute the arguments of this message we should be glad to see the refutation. Georgia will probably not undertake this task; but resort to the more summary mode, of protesting against the constitution and government of the Cherokees out of which this message has grown, and to the force of power, for the establishment of its claims. The Message is published in the New Echota Gazette, in the Cherokee nation:—Balt. Pat.
Extract from the MESSAGE of the Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation to the General Council.To the Members of the Committee and Council, in General Council convened.
The circumstances of our Government assuming a new character under a constitutional form, and on the principles of republicanism, has, in some degree, excited the sensation of the public characters of Georgia, and it is sincerely to be regretted that this excitement should have been manifested by such glaring expression of hostility to our true interests. By the adoption of the Constitution, our relation to the United States, as recognized by existing Treaties, is not in the least degree affected; but, on the contrary, this improvement in our government ia strictly in accordance with the recommendation, views, and wishes of the great Washington, under whose auspicious administration our Treaties of peace, friendship, and protection, were made, and whose policy in regard to Indian civilization, has been strictly pursued by the subsequent administrations.
The pretended claim of Georgia to a portion of our lands, is alledged on the following principles. First, by discovery; secondly, by conquest; thirdly, by compact.
We shall endeavor briefly to elucidate the character of this claim. In the first place, the Europeans, by the skill and enterprise of their navigators, discovered this vast continent, and found it inhabited exclusively by Indians of various tribes, and by a pacific courtesy and designing stratagems, the aboriginal proprietors were induced to permit a people from a foreign clime to plant colonies, and without consent or knowledge of the native lords, a potentate of England whose eyes never saw, whose purse never purchased.aod whose sword never conquered the soil we inhabit, presumed to issue a parchment called a "Charter," to the colony of Georgia, in which its boundary was set forth, including a great extent of country inhabited by the Cherokecs and other Indian Nations.
Secondly, after a lapse of many years, when the population of their colonies had become strong, they revolted against their sovereign, and by success of arms, established an independent government, under the name of "the United States." It is further alleged that the Cherokee Nation prosecuted a war at the same time against the Colonies.
Thirdly, several years after the treaties of peace and friendship, and protection which took place between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, and by which the faith of the United States was solemnly pledged to guarantee to the Cherokee Nation forever, a title to their lands, a compact was entered into between the United States and the state of Georgia, by which the United States promised to purchase for the use of Georgia certain lands belonging to the Cherokee Nation, so soon as it could be done on reasonable and peaceable terms.
Thus stands the naked claim of Georgia, to a portion of our lands. The claim advanced under the plea of discovery, is preposterous. Our ancestors from time immorial possessed the country, not by a "Charter" from the hand of a mortal King, who had no right to grant it, but by the Will of the King of Kings, who created all things and liveth for ever and ever.
The claim advanced under the second head, on the ground of conquest, is no less futile than the first, even admitting that the Cherokees waged a war with the colonies, at the time they fought for their independence. The Cherokees took a part in the war only as the allied of Great Britain, and not as her subjects, being an Independent Nation, over whose lands, she exercised no rights of jurisdiction; therefore, nothing could be claimed from them, in regard to their lands, by the conqueror over the rights of Great Britain. At the termination of the war, the United States negotiated with the Cherokees on the terms of peace as an Independent Nation, and since the close of that war, other wars took place, and at their terminations other treaties were made, and in no one stipulation can there be found a single idea that our title to the soil has been forfeited or claimed as the terms of peace, but, to the contrary, we discover that the United States solemnly pledged their faith that our title should be guaranteed to our nation forever.
The third pretension is extremely lame. The United States enters into a compact with Georgia that will purchase certain lands, which belong to us, for Georgia, so soon as they can do it on peaceable and reasonable terms. The promise was made on the part of the United States without knowing whether this Nation would even consent to dispose of those lands on any terms. Being a party in the compact their title cannot be affected in the slightest degree. It appears astonishingly unreasonable that all those hard denunciations which have been unsparingly lavished against our sacred rights and interest, by interested politicians, have arose from no other circumstance than our honest refusal to sell to the United States lands for the fulfilment of their compact with Georgia. Although our views and condition may be misrepresented–although we may be misrepresented–although we may be estimated with the appellation of "Nabobs," and should be presented as ruling with an "Iron rod," and "grinding down into dust, the wretched and abject mass" of our citizens; and although we may be called avaricious for refusing to sell our lands, we could not be diverted from the path of rectitude. In all our intercourse with our neighboring white brethren, we would endeavor to cultivate the utmost harmony and good understanding; by strictly observing the relations which we sustain to the United States.
Owing to the various misrepresentations respecting us, we have been frequently called upon to make a treaty of cession; and under the hope of succeeding with us, a treaty has been entered into by the United States, with that portion of the Cherokees who have absolved themselves from all connection with us, by removing west of the Mississippi, and establishing themselves there as a distant community, stipulating that all those Cherokees residing east of the Mississippi, who will consent to emigrate west of that river, shall receive a bounty consisting of a rifle gun, a blanket, a steel trap, a brass kettle and five pounds of tobacco. Such are the temptations offered to induce us to leave our friends, our relatives, our houses, our cultivated farms, our country, and every thing endeared t us by the progress of civilization–for what?–To tread the barren wild and dreary waste on the confines of the Rocky Mountains, with these necessary accouterments and appendages of the hunter on our backs, in pursuit of the Buffalo and other wild animals. With the view of carrying this burlesque on our happiness into effect, the United States Agent for this Nation has been instructed by the Secretary of War to visit us at our fire-sides, accompanied by James Rogers and Thomas Maw, two of the Cherokees residing west of the Mississippi, and who composed a part of the Chiefs that negotiated the late Treaty. This extraordinary movement has been made, though without any effect; and we are happy to state, that our citizens generally have treated the Agent and his associates with civility, and have with great propriety restrained their indignant feelings from committing any violence on the persons of the two Arkansas Chiefs, for the indignity offered by the design of their visit. We would recommend you and the immediate representative of the people, to submit a respectful memorial to the Congress of the United States, expressive of the true sentiments of the people, respecting their situation, and praying that measures may be adopted on the part of the United States for the adjustment of their compact with the state of Georgia, otherwise than to anticipate any further cession of land from this nation.
New Echota, C. N., Oct. 12, 1828.
Old News Stories
| || || |