Collection: 1822 Report on Indian Affairs

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...

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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!!! 1I have not seen the document here referred to, but the fact stated...

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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* See Appendix. Improvements in Education Families and New Establishments Recommended My instructions are “to report my opinion...

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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...

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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,...

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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. 1Mons. 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 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...

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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. 1M. Peron, one of the distinguished French Naturalists, has had opportunity to notice, that men in a savage state are inferior in strength to men civilized. By actual experiment, he is said to have demonstrated, in every satisfactory manner that the introduction of social order, and the sober habits of civilized life, does by no means, as some have asserted, impair, but actually strengthen our physical powers. The following has been quoted as the result of his experiments on the subject, made with the Dianometer of M. Regnier. Force. Savages. With hands. With traces Of Diemen’s Land,    50.6    — New Holland,    51.8   14.8 Timor, 58.7    16.4 Europeans. French,     69.2   22.1 English, 71.4    23.8 By civilizing the Indians we may hence calculate how much physical strength...

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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,...

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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,...

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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. 1A summary Journal of this Tour is given in the Appendix K. 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...

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Indian Trade

“The moral condition of the Indians,” my commission states, ” will necessarily be very dependent on the character of the trade with them; and a subject so important will, of course, claim your attention. You will report such facts as may come within your knowledge, as will go to show the state of the trade with them, and the character of the traders, and will suggest such improvements in the present system of Indian trade, as in your opinion will render it better calculated to secure peace between them and us, and will contribute more efficiently to advance their moral condition.” On this topic, of primary importance, I shall simply state the information received in answer to my enquiries, and at the close make such suggestions as have occurred to my own mind, in reflecting on this information. 1It is considered proper to publish this part of the Report, as it was presented to the President and Congress, previously to the abolition of the Factor system, as it exhibits some important facts on this subject, which, whatever influence they may have had in producing the above anticipated measure, go to justify it, and to show the necessity of a radical change in the system of Indian Trade. Three alternatives, only, appear to present themselves to the the choice of the Government. Whether the present mixed plan of conducting trade...

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Jedidiah Morse Remarks and Suggestions on the Indians of America in 1822

These remarks and suggestions I had prepared with much thought and labor, and at considerable length, conceiving the subject to have a very important bearing on the benevolent object of the government. But on reflection, that so many able, official reports had been made upon it by heads of Department and Committees of Congress, much more competent than myself to discuss and illustrate a subject of this complex and delicate nature, and that there are considerable diversities of opinion in respect to the plan most proper to be adopted and pursued, I have thought it would be prudent in me to lay aside what I had prepared, and to confine myself to a simple statement of my own opinion, as to the best manner of conducting the Indian Trade, and of the reasons which support this opinion. Before I make this statement, it is proper to remark, that the present mode of carrying on the Indian trade, partly by Government, on the Factory system; and partly by licensed Traders, appears to have few, if any, advocates; and I presume will certainly and readily be abandoned. The question which seems to divide those who have considered this subject, is, whether the government shall take this trade wholly into their own hands, and provide a capital competent to the purpose; or give it up wholly into the hands of licensed Traders,...

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Drummond’s Island

The name of Drummond’s Island is familiar as the place of annual resort of thousands of Indians, to receive presents from the British Government. The following description of this Island was verbally given to me, while at Mackinaw, by a very respectable inhabitant of that island. Drummond’s Island lies on the Strait which connects Lake Huron with Lake Superior, thirty-six miles north-east, in a direct course, forty-five by water, from Mackinaw. It is forty-five miles in circumference, four or five miles from the Canada shore, on the north or British side of the channel of the strait, which forms a part of the boundary line between the United States and the Canadas. A British garrison of about one hundred and forty men in barracks, is established on the south side of the island, on a spacious harbor, one of the best on the Lakes, three miles in circumference, sheltered from every wind, entered by two narrow, deep channels, about sixty yards wide. The island is rough, made up chiefly of limestone, without any buildings or inhabitants, other than the barracks, and soldiers. Here are found many singular and curious petrifications, and stones, which would gratify the geologist and mineralogist. Originally the island was covered with birch, maple and beach, which is now principally gone. The soil, though stoney, yields, plentifully, potatoes, garden roots and vegetables, and food for many...

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1822 Congressional Report on Indian Affairs

Jedediah Morse’s 1822 report to Congress of his travels through Indian Territory on behalf of the office of Secretary of War – Jedediah was tasked by a resolution of Congress to report of his travels amongst the tribes throughout the United States. Acknowledging that he did not visit all of the tribes, and that he relied on known facts and materials for the body of text he provided, Jedediah presented a large collection of tabular data and descriptive content. This data was then used by Congress to shape it’s policies as it dealt with expansion further west, and specifically tribal relations.

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