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Lewis and Clark, when exploring the waters of the Columbia River in 1805, under the auspices of the United Sates Government, found the Indians in the valley of the Columbia living in villages in which there were many large houses. They mention some capable of “furnishing habitations for five hundred people.” The Iroquois, whose territories lay along the southern borders of the Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario, when visited by the Jesuit priests and French traders in 1771, were found dwelling in large towns and villages some of which are described as having “120 houses, many of them from 50 to 60 feet in length, and affording ample room and shelter for twelve or fifteen families.” The Indians of the Atlantic Stages were settled in permanent towns and villages. The Pokanokets, Narragansets, Pequods, and others, as stated by early writers, lived in towns and, villages. The missionaries, when they established, Christian missions among the Cherokees in 1815, the Choctaws in 1818, and Chickasaws in 1821, found them living in prosperous towns and villages scattered from two to six miles apart all over their then vast territories, and to which I testify from actual, personal knowledge; and. no people with whom I was ever acquainted, or of whom I ever read, exhibited more real social virtues, true contentment and genuine social happiness than they; yet Rid paths doleful and stereotyped edition of misrepresentation and ignorance says: “But the Red Man was, at his best estate, an unsocial, solitary, and gloomy spirit. He communed only with himself and the genius of solitude. He sat apart; the forest was better than the village.”
The six nations, to whom the French gave the name Iroquois (Longhouses) were composed of the Senecas, Cayugas, Onondagas, Oneidas, Mohawks and Tuscaroras, inhabiting the northern part of the continent, and the Choctaws; Chickasaws, Cherokees, Muscogees, Seminoles, Natchez and Yamasas, living in the southern part and known at an early day as the Mobela Nations, presented, no doubt, the highest type of the North American Indians, and were unsurpassed in, point of native eloquence, unalloyed patriotism, and heroic bravery, by any ancient or modern race of people, civilized or uncivilized; in friendship faithful and true, in war not safe or comfortable to encounter; and whose highest bliss was found in national independence and absolute personal freedom from all restraint whatever; and of whose ancient history, if only known, it might truthfully be said, would be stranger and more interesting than the “most thrilling fiction; abounding with hidden romances of which the civilized world never conjectured or even dreamed, if we may judge from the little that has escaped oblivion. The Iroquois, and the six Nations of the North have long since disappeared be fore the White Race as autumnal leaves before the wintry winds, except with here and there a few lonely wanderers who, like ghosts, still hover around the graves of their ancestors, feeble sparks yet lingering in the ashes of an exterminated race. The Natchez and Yamases of the Mobela Nations have also long since passed through the same ordeal, and Ichabod is written upon their urns with thousands of others, of their unhappy race: while a few still linger to justly rebuke our cruelty and avarice.
They know that they only can learn the; present through the memory of the blood stained past; that temple from which posterity draws its lessons of human life; yet they are not ashamed of their past; or do they undervalue it, but advocate, as they have many, long years before, the great brotherhood of man; and still hope and expect, as in the years of the long past, great things from Christianity and intellectual culture; though oft have been doomed to that bitter disappointment which so loudly and justly rebukes and condemns that prejudice still cherished so bitterly but unjustly against them by the White Race, ,and so difficult to be reconciled to its published professions of Christian attainments, too deep for them or any other people, to understand or even: rightly conjecture. But the question naturally arises, why are they still distrusted by us? Is it because they still honor their past, which they can never renounce nor forget as a brave and patriotic people? Must we forever hate them and eternally make them the subjects of our ridicule and contempt because, forsooth, they will not repudiate the memory of their ancient line of ancestry to them as honor able as to us is our own? And though self respect is all that we have left to them, except a few acres of begrudged land, do we now demand and expect them to so far forget them selves and to stoop so low in the scale of humanity as to adopt voluntarily, the impious and degrading estimate put upon them by the unprincipled of our own race, who through ignorance and prejudice have misjudged them? Then know we not the North American Indian; nor will our demand or expectation ever be realized.
We may exterminate them as we have millions of their race, for we have the power to do so; but we never can coerce them to voluntarily place a degrading estimate upon them. Never. I have heard the charge over and over again made against them, that they would stop the progress of the white mans civilization and the religion of Jesus Christ among them if they could. Without fear or favor, I here denounce the charge as a falsehood, begat by the devil, born in the regions of eternal night, thence escaped to find lodgment in the hearts of its miserably degraded author, and his congenial spirits, the foul mouthed promulgators; and into their teeth I fearlessly hurl it back. But I freely admit, if the “white mans civilization and the white man Christianity” is meant the grim visage of infidelity with its abominable train of liberalism, socialism, secularism, nihilism, spiritualism, and whiskeys with their legitimate children, saloonism and baudy houseism, and all other devilfishes presented in the white mans Christian civilization (so-called), they want none of it; and in proof of which they have warred, and still war and will ever continue to war against the foul brood, be they ever so protective to the white mans “Personal Liberty;” or ever so dearly cherished by him, as among the brightest lights along the horizon of his modern and advanced civilization. But let Christ s glorious Christianity and civilization, as it was presented to them eighty years ago in their ancient domains east of the Mississippi river by the pure minded, devoted, self-sacrificing, God approved missionaries, whose God-like teaching’s, both by precept arid example, have been handed down by that generation to this, (of whom many old Choctaws of that day have frequently spoken to me during my sojourn among them, during the last five or six years, and as often drew the contrast between the white mail’s religion of those days and the white man’s religion of today, the genuine fruits of which are so manifest) be rudely assailed or imperiled, and every warrior, old and young, would at once rise as one man in its defense, and freely give their lives as sacrificial offerings upon the altar of its protection. They had long walked in darkness, but they have seen the light as it shone in the daily life, conversation, and actions, of those old heralds of the Cross, who came to them in their ancient domains, four score years ago, as messengers of the Son of God, proclaiming Peace Good and Will to them. But they would see greater light and know more of that light; therefore, they who charge them with a hankering to still return to the customs of their ancestors, though in many respects more to be de sired than the isms and degrading vices of the white mans modern civilization as presented to them, can lay no just claim to the right of judging or estimating the merits, or demerits of any one, as they measure every thing by the standard of their own imbecility so manifest to all.
There is today, and has ever been, as much talent found among the true Native Americans as among the Americans or ever was found in any race of uneducated people; and the Indian is naturally as much of a religious being as the white man, yea, to a greater degree, which is fully sustained by his more faithful adherence and un-assumed devotion to his newly adapted religion, as taught him by the missionary of the Gospel, than are we with all of our fine churches and noisy professions. The Sabbath day is regarded with much more reverence, and observed with greater emotions of unfeigned devotion, yet we call him a savage. Long before the light of the Gospel illuminated the mind of the Indian, and the knowledge of his own dignity and destiny had dawned upon his understanding, his reason taught him a belief in the existence of a Superior Being whose wisdom and goodness he saw, acknowledged and reverenced in every leaf and flower that adorned the earth; in the rising and setting of the sun; in the storm of night and the calm of day. But the missionary came, and the Gospel of the Son of God then erected his alter among them and shed the benign influences of her oracles over them, leading their understanding from the intellectual darkness of that long starless night that had, brooded over them during ages untold. Great indeed must be the reward in heaven for those men and women of God who carried the Bread of Eternal Life to the southern Indians of this continent, over three quarters of a century ago; when civilization and Christianity had never before found lodgment, and Nature was presented in all her seemingly newness of life, unchanged by the handiwork of man. The pride of ancestry may be just; to rehearse the deeds of illustrious predecessors may by laudable; but they, who devote life to the Glory of God and the benefit of their fellow men are truly the ones that make life illustrious and the grave glorious; for when time had silvered their heads with gray, and the summons came that bade them go hence; then it was their good deeds lighted up the gloom of the grave and soothed and softened the pangs of dissolution; and when they have long slumbered in the city of the silent, yea, when every trace of the unhappy Indian shall have been wiped out and forgotten in the oblivion of the past, still will the memory of their labors of love live, and their monuments be in scribed with characters of imperishable fame. Years hence, when the inquisitive shall ask what manner of people were the fallen and exterminated race of North American continent, and inquire concerning those who enlightened the minds that only here and there have left a monument of their independence, will some venerable patriarch point to the catalogue of renowned names, who disseminated the Gospel and the light of learning among the primitive inhabitants of the North American continent. But the question naturally arises here; will the mighty tide of humanity, now flowing like a great river into and over our country, bear to future posterity our virtues or our vices, our glory or our shame? Will the moth of immorality and the vampire of luxury transmit, as an inheritance, their natural results to our future posterity, and ultimately prove the overthrow of our Government, or shall our knowledge and virtue, as pillars of rock, support them against the whirlwind of ambition and corruption now overspreading the land? The little insect intruding” upon our path is despised and wantonly crushed; yet united; they have destroyed nations and depopulated cities. “Coming events” cease not to “cast their shadows before.