Saturday, August 6, 2016

Missions to the Western Indians by "Melville" - No. 3 of 6

In 1838 the U. S. Secreatry of War was Joel Roberts Poinsett. Before that, Lewis Cass.

From the Christian Watchman [Boston, Massachusetts] Wednesday, April 4, 1838; found in the online Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank.

For the Watchman.
Missions to the Western Indians.—No. 3.

The first settlements founded in this country by our emigrant ancestors were naturally formed near the original points of landing, upon the north eastern or Atlantic coast. The tide of population thence proceeded to the South and West. In consequence of this fact, the Indians are principally found inhabiting the vast territorial tract on the western border of the United States, included under the names of the North West and Missouri Territories. In 1836, a portion of the former was erected into a separate territory, under the name of Wisconsin, a fact of which it may be desirable to retain a remembrance in considering the localities of some of the Indian tribes.

It is understood to be the settled policy of the national government to remove the principal part of the Indians within the limits of the States to a territory allotted for the purpose West of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Experience has shown this measure to be, under present circumstances, essential to the welfare, if not to the existence, of the Indians. This plan has already been executed, to a considerable extent. By a return made to the appropriate department on the first of December, 1837, it appears that more than fifty-one thousand Indians had been removed from their former grounds to the new territory. At the same date, thirty-seven thousand were under treaty stipulations to remove; and a few more than twelve thousand, including the small tribes in New York, and some others in the vicinity of the lakes, were not under such stipulations. The document also contains a list of twenty-eight tribes, with an aggregate population of two hundred and thirty-two thousand, who are native in the above mentioned territory west of the Mississippi, or near the western frontier.

It may possibly be unknown to some of my readers that the business of our Indian relations devolves primarily upon the Secretary of War. In 1832, provision was made by an act of Congress for the appointment of an officer with the title of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who was to take the special charge of this branch of the public service. This person resides at Washington, and acts under the direction of the Secretary of War. The intercourse with the Indians is effected by the aid of Superintendents, Agents, Sub-agents and Interpreters. The office of Commissioner is at present filled by the Hon. C. A. Harris.

I shall conclude this article with some account of the principal tribes still resident East of the Mississippi river.

The Chippeways occupy an extensive country in the northern part of the North West Territory, to the South and West of Lake Superior. They probably number about three thousand. Several bands of their brethren have removed to the Indian country. Of those who remain a portion residing near the Lakes are not under treaty stipulations to remove. The Menominies, in the central part of the Territory, and, I believe, mostly within the bounds of Wisconsin, number about four thousand. This tribe, like the Wyandots and Miamies, are not under treaty stipulations to remove beyond the Mississippi.

The Winnebagoes inhabit a tract to the South of the Menominies. The tribe comprises about four thousand and five hundred persons. By the stipulations of a treaty concluded in August, 1829, they ceded the territory occupied by them to the United States, and consented to remove to the neighborhood of their brethren in the West.

The Sacs and Foxes inhabit the country adjacent to the northern border of Illinois. They remain mostly in a savage state. By two treaties concluded with them in 1830 and 1832, respectively, they ceded their lands, comprising some twenty millions of acres to the United States. They are of a martial disposition, and frequently engaged in war.

The Putawattimies occupy a portion of country in the northern part of Indiana. They have become partially civilized; and chiefly subsist upon the productions of agriculture. The number of this tribe still living in Indiana is about three thousand. Several bands consisting together of fifteen thousand souls, have exchanged their former lands for others West of the Mississippi.

The Chickasaws are a small tribe dwelling in the northern part of Mississippi. This nation has been amalgamated, to some extent, with the white settlers in their neighborhood. One thousand of their number have removed westward, leaving but about six hundred on their former lands. The national government has appropriated one million three hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars to furnish them with the advantages of education. More than a million and a half has also been paid to them in land, money, clothing, and provisions.

The Choctaws dwell near the middle of the common boundary line between Mississippi and Alabama. They are a powerful tribe about fifteen thousand in number. They are far advanced in civilization.

The Cherokees dwell in the northern parts of Alabama and Georgia. They are the foremost of the Indian tribes in civilization, cultivating all the more important arts of life. Many of them are professors of religion; and their conduct as members of a civil community and as Christians will probably compare, without disadvantage, with that of any nation on the globe. They number twenty-two thousand, of whom about one third have removed to the Indian country.

The Seminoles, five thousand in number, occupy the southern part of Florida. They are under treaty stipulations to remove West of the Mississippi; but a disastrous war, said to have been induced by excesses committed by the Seminoles, and by the fact of their having afforded a refuge to the fugitive slaves of the Florida planters, has been raging, for several years, between this nation and the United States.

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