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The Education of Indian Females and Intermarriages Between Indian and White People
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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 marriage institution, in its parity, introduced, the principal obstacles to intermarriage with them would be removed. Let the Indians, therefore, be taught all branches of knowledge pertaining to civilized man; then let intermarriage with them become general, and the end which the Government has in view will be completely attained. They would then be literally of one blood with us, be merged in the nation, and saved from extinction.
Mons. Peniere, an exile from France during her revolution, a man of genius and information, who resided four yean among the Indians, a careful and intelligent observer of their character, speaks thus on the subject of intermarriages. “Encourage marriages between the whites and Indians. The second generation resulting from those alliances would be totally white and beautiful. The Indians, in general, are better shaped, and more robust, than the whites; and their birth is as pure and as noble as ours.”
MS, Memoir on the civilization of the Indian ↩
The following extract from Capt Bell’s Journal of his tour to the Rocky Mountains, furnishes one example out of many others, to our purpose.
“On the 22d Sept 1820, we halted at the house of a Cherokee Chief; by the name of Watt Webber, a half breed. His place is beautifully situated on a high bluff upon the bank of the Arkansas River, secure from inundation, and if the great thoroughfare of travelers from the Missouri, to the country south of the Arkansaw, above the Cadrons. Webber is tall, well formed, dresses in the costume of the whites, is affable, and of polite manners. Though he understands English, he would converse only in the Cherokee language. His wife is a large, fleshy woman, a full blooded Indian, dressed in every particular like genteel, well dressed white women. She attends diligently herself to all her domestic concerns, which are conducted with the strictest order and neatness. She also spins, and weaves, and has taught that arts to her domestic. Her black servant acted as ‘our interpreter, in convening with her husband. We dined with this family. Their table was handsomely prepared, with China plates, and corresponding furniture. The food was cooked and served up after the manner of well bred white people; and Mrs. W. did the honors of the table in a lady like manner, with ease, and grace and dignity.
“These Cherokees lately removed from the rest of their tribe, on the east of the Mississippi, near the white settlements, where they became thus civilized; and here, the civilized part of them, are an example which will not be without good effects, to the interior Indians.” ↩
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