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The Claims of the Indians on the Government and People of the United States

In the existing state of the Indians, and of our connections with them, what do we owe them? What are the duties, in reference to them, of the civil, and of the religious community ? The duties of each are different, but connected. Neither, alone, can do all that seems necessary to be done. There is enough for both to do; and a necessity that there should be mutual cooperation. The Government, according to the law of nations, having jurisdiction over the Indian Territory, and the exclusive right to dispose of its soil, the whole Indian population is reduced, of necessary consequence, to a dependent situation. They are without the privileges of self government, except in a limited degree; and without any transferable property. They are ignorant of nearly all the useful branches of human knowledge, of the Bible, and of the only Savior of men, therein revealed. They are weak, and ready to perish; we are strong, and with the help of God, able to support, to comfort and to save them. In these circumstances, the Indians have claims on us of high importance to them, and to our own character and reputation, as an enlightened, just and Christian nation. In return for what they virtually yield, they are undoubtedly entitled to expect from our honor and justice, protection in all the rights which they are permitted to retain. They are entitled, as “children” of the* government, for so we call them, peculiarly related to it, to kind, paternal treatment, to justice in all our dealings with them, to education in the useful arts and sciences, and in...

Civilization of the Indians

When we look back in the pages of history four or five hundred years, and see what then was the state of our own Ancestors, and whence sprang the most polished and scientific nations of Europe, we should scarcely have supposed, that any man, acquainted with history, or making any pretensions to candor, would be found among the objectors to attempts to civilize our Indians, and thus to save them from perishing. Yet, painful as is the fact, objections have been made to the present course of procedure with Indians, and from men too, whose standing and office in society are such, as it would be deemed disrespectful to pass unnoticed. “The project,” it has been said, “is visionary and impracticable. Indians can never be tamed; they are incapable of receiving, or of enjoying, the blessings proposed to be offered to them.” Some, I will hope, for the honor of our country, that the number is small, have proceeded farther, and said, “Indians are not worth saving. They are perishing – let them perish. The sooner they are gone, the better.” And to hasten such a catastrophe, a formal project has been actually devised and put on paper, and the projector has had the effrontery to offer his infernal project for the adoption of the government!!!1 A sufficient answer to such of these objections, as require notice (for truly some of them are so shocking, that one can hardly think of them, much less undertake to answer them) will be found, conceive, in the facts collected into the Appendix of this work.2 It is too late to say that...

Education Families

I give this name to those bodies which have been commonly denominated Mission Families, because it seems better to describe their character, and may less offend the opposers of Missions. By an Education Family I mean, an association of individual families, formed of one or more men regularly qualified to preach the Gospel, to be at the head of such a family; of schoolmasters and mistresses; of farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, cabinetmakers, millwrights, and other mechanics-of women capable of teaching the use of the needle, the spinning wheel, the loom, and all kinds of domestic manufactures, cookery, &c. common in civilized families. This family to consist of men and women in a married state, with their children, all possessing talents for their respective offices, with a missionary spirit, devoted to their work; contented to labor without salary, receiving simply support. The size of these families to be proportioned to the importance of their respective stations, and to the number of Indians around them, who are to be educated. Such families have been established, and may be seen in actual operation, and accompanied with their fruits, among the Cherokee, Choctaw and Osage Indians. These bodies are to be the great instruments in the hands of the government, for educating and civilizing the Indians.1 Improvements in Education Families and New Establishments Recommended My instructions are “to report my opinion as to the improvements which may be made, and the new establishments, to pro” mote the object of the Government in civilizing the Indians, which can be advantageously formed.” The number and location of the Education Families already established, the dates of these...

Indian College

As an important aid to the Government in their project in regard to the Indians, I would suggest the expediency of establishing. In some suitable situation, a College, for the education of such Indian youth, as shall have passed through the primary Indian schools with reputation and promise. Here, under competent instructors let them be prepared to teach their brethren of the wilderness, all, even the higher, branches of useful knowledge. Let this College be liberally endowed out of the avails of those public lands, which have been purchased of the Indians. To what better purpose can a portion of them be applied? Of these lands there is enough, and to spare, at the disposal of the Government. Let able and skilful Professors be appointed for this Institution, and whenever any of the educated Indian youth shall become qualified for teachers, let them be rewarded, and encouraged, by promoting them to such offices in the instruction and government of the College, as they are capable of filling with reputation and respectability. Let them thus feel their own strength and importance, and have the full benefit of all the motives to exertion, which we enjoy. Such an Institution, as has now been recommended, was early established, and nobly endowed, in India, for the benefit of that populous region; and its good fruits have far exceeded the high expectations of its friends.1 We might reasonably expect the like good effects from a similar Institution in our own country. The Indians, within a very few years, might, and probably will be, extensively taught by their own civilized and educated brethren; numbers of...

Society for Promoting the General Welfare of the Indian Tribes

I would suggest the expediency of forming a Society, with the above or a similar title to be composed of members from each of the States and Territories, and of all denominations of Christians within the U. States. This Society to be placed under the patronage of the principal officers of the national Government. The object of this Society is summarily stated in its title. It should embrace everything which such a Society could do, that has a bearing on the improvement of the whole Indian population of our country, in all branches of useful knowledge. For these purposes it should be made their business to investigate the history, and to examine into the ancient memorials, government, religion, customs and manners of the former, but more especially of the existing tribes; to ascertain their capacity for literary, moral, and intellectual improvements – to enquire into the efforts which have hitherto been made for imparting to them the blessings of civilization and Christianity, and to bring into view the results of these efforts, whether successful or otherwise; and where they have failed, to state the probable causes of failure, and to suggest the proper remedies; to ascertain the places of residence, the numbers, dispositions, and, generally, the present actual state of these tribes, and of the improvements which have been introduced among them, and to suggest, from time to time, to the Government, and to the religious Associations, who possess the authority, the means, and the disposition to act directly upon the Indians, such plans and measures, as may assist them in conducting this wide spread, complex, and difficult service....

The Education of Indian Females and Intermarriages Between Indian and White People

I connect these subjects, because, in contemplating the latter, the former should be kept in view. While Indians remain in their present state, the minds of civilized people must revolt at the idea of intermarrying with them. It is natural, and decent, that it should be so. Intermarriages, however, in the present state of the Indians, or, that which amounts to the same thing, have taken place to a great extent, and this too by many men of respectable talents and standing in society.1 More than half the Cherokee nation, a large part of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and I may add indeed, of all other tribes with whom the whites have had intercourse, are of mixed blood. The offspring of this intercourse, a numerous body, are of promising talents and appearance. Their complexion is nearly that of the white population. They require only education, and the enjoyment of our privileges, to make them a valuable portion of our citizens. Let this education then be given them, particularly to the female Indians. It is essential to the success of the project of the Government, that the female character among our native tribes be raised from its present degraded state, to its proper rank and influence. This should be a primary object with the instructors of Indians. By educating female children, they will become prepared, in tun, to educate their own children, to manage their domestic concerns with intelligence and propriety, and, in this way, they will gradually attain their proper standing and influence in society. Many examples exist, to show that all this is practicable.2 Thus educated, and the...

Persons and Character of Indians

Indians, generally, are about the size of the white people. The Osage, and some other tribes, who are of remarkable height, and fine figure, are exceptions to this remark. In these respects they exceed any equally large body of white people known among us. In the shape of their limbs, and their erect form, Indians have evidently the advantage over the whites. Some, whom I have seen, would be perfect models for the sculptor. Instances of deformity are rare. In bodily strength they are inferior to the whites; as b true of all savages; civilized man being always superior in strength to savage man.1 They are fleet in their movements. Indian runners are prodigies in respect to their long continued rapidity in conveying messages to distant tribes. Their journeys far exceed in length, what white man could perform in the same time, and with less weariness. With wonderful quickness interesting information is circulated among the tribes friendly to each other.2 Indians talk but little. Their knowledge is limited, and their ideas few; and they have the wisdom not to talk when they have nothing to say – a trait of character worthy the imitation of many, who claim to be wiser than Indians. In conversation they do not interrupt each other, but wait respectfully till the speaker has finished. Except when intoxicated, they are not vociferous, noisy, or quarrelsome, in their common intercourse, but mild and obliging. Backbiting, whispering, cursing and swearing, to our shame it must be said, are vices, not of savage, but of civilized man!! The Indians who have been conversant with white men, like the...

The Nature of the Indian Titles to Their Lands

The relation which the Indians sustain to the government of the United States is peculiar in its nature. Their independence, their rights, their title to the soil which they occupy, are all imperfect in their kind. Each tribe possesses many of the attributes of independence and sovereignty. They have their own forms of government, appoint their own rulers, in their own way, make their own laws, have their own customs and religion, and, without control, declare war and make peace, and regulate all other of their civil, religious and social affairs. The disposal of their lands is always done by formal Treaties between the government of the United States, and the tribe, or tribes, of whom the lands are purchased. They have no voice, no representation in our government; none of the rights of freemen, and participate with us in none of the privileges and blessings of civilized society. In all these respects Indians are strictly independent of the government and people of the United States. Yet the jurisdiction of the whole country which they inhabit, according to the established law of nations, appertains to the government of the United States; and the right of disposing of the soil, attaches to the power that holds the jurisdiction. Indians, therefore, have no other property in the soil of their respective territories, than that of mere occupancy. This is a common, undivided, property in each tribe. When a tribe, by Treaty, sell their territory, they sell only what they possess, which is, the right to occupy their territory, from which they agree to remove. The complete title to their lands rests...

Increase of Indians within the Extended Limits of the United States

By the treaty with Spain, of 1819, the Territory of the United States is extended from the Atlantic, to the Pacific Ocean j and a host of Indian tribes, in consequence, has been brought within our national limits. Many of these tribes, in point of numbers, rank among the largest in our country. These tribes are shut up within their present continually narrowing limits. They can migrate neither to the north, nor to the south; neither to the east, nor to the west. The cold and barren region, spreading from our northern boundary, in lat. 49 north, to the Frozen Ocean, has already a population, as large as its scanty productions can support. Other tribes possess the narrow strip of territory, between our southern borders, west of the Mississippi, and the Spanish settlements. The rapid advance of the white population presses them on the east; and the great Pacific Ocean hems them in on the west. “Where the white man puts down his foot, he never takes it up again,” is a shrewd and correct remark of an Indian Chief. The hunting grounds of the Indians on our frontiers are explored in all directions, by enterprising white people. Their best lands are selected, settled, and at length, by treaty purchased. Their game is either wholly destroyed, or so diminished, as not to yield an adequate support. The poor Indians, thus deprived of their accustomed means of subsistence, and of what, in their own view, can alone render them respectable, as well as comfortable, are constrained to leave their homes, their goodly lands, and the sepulchers of their fathers, and...

Stephen Morse’s 1822 Tour into Canada

Conceiving that it was within the spirit and meaning of my commission, and that it might, in various ways, aid essentially the accomplishment of the grand object of the Government in respect to the Indians, I left home on the 4th of July 1821, with a view to visit both the Canadas, and to ascertain the feelings and views of the Governors and principal men in those provinces, on the subject of the civilization and moral and religious improvement of the Indians, within their respective jurisdictions, and whether their cooperation, in such manner as they should deem proper, might be expected.1 I proceeded by way of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Town, to York, the seat of the government of Upper Canada, where I arrived the 3d of August; and the same day had a very full and satisfactory conversation with His Excellency, Sir Peregrine Maitland, on the subject of my visit, the result of which will be found in the following letter, which I had the honor to address to you from Niagara. Niagara, August 5th, 1821. Dear Sir, I have just returned to this place from a visit to His Excellency Peregrine Maitland, Governor of Upper Canada, at York. He received me with much civility, in a manner respectful to the Government under whose commission I had been acting; heard my communications with an attention, which indicated deep interest in them; communicated, in turn, what had been done, and was now doing, for the Indians in this Province; expressed in strong terms his approbation of what was doing in the U. States, for the benefit of our Indians;...
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