Letter from Cherokee Nation for Bounty and Back Pay
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No. 13 B.
Deep Fork, Cherokee Nation, May 14, 1867.
Sir: We learn through various sources that Mr. F. N. Nash, a merchant of Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation, has notified our people who acted as soldiers during the late war, and entitled to bounties, back pay, &c., there for, that he is authorized and ready to pay them the same, and inviting them to go to him and receive their money. Many have gone, expecting their pay, and have been informed by him (Mr. Nash) that their names were there, but unless they would trade at least one-half the amount due them out in his store, they could not be paid.
Our people, in all good faith and relying on the vehement promises made them that their pay should be forthcoming in, at the farthest, three months, placed their claims near two years ago in the hands of Mr. J. W. Wright, for collection, agreeing to pay him a specific sum therefore, but did not agree to take them or any part of their pay in goods.
These promises of speedy pay must have been renewed as often as every three months since and not one-fifth part of the amount due our soldiers, their widows and orphans, has yet been paid, while others who have placed their claims in the hands of other parties for collection have long since received their money.
Last fall Mr. J. W. Wright visited our country and made some payments, but carried back with him between $7,000 and $8,000, which should have been paid to claimants whose names he had and whose money he acknowledged it to be. Many were sick at the time and many lived far from the place where he made the payments, but no time would be allowed them, nor would he pay the money to their friends or relatives, who were duly authorized to receive and receipt for it, and gave sufficient proofs of the facts, and yon, our agent, hold yourself responsible.
Our people are destitute and actually suffering now for the actual necessities of life, with every prospect of a total failure of crops the present season, and nothing to fall back upon.
The grasshoppers are destroying every thing of the vegetable kind, and still increasing in numbers, with no prospect of emigrating, and should they have, we fear that it will be too late for crops to mature this summer. The little corn raised last year, though husbanded with the greatest care, is nearly or quite exhausted.
Many have contracted debts, relying on their bounties for payment. We have waited long and patiently, and cannot believe that it is the purpose of the Government of the United States that we should be so long and so unjustly kept out of our rightful dues, hardly and honorably earned in the support of her cause.
We ask you as our agent to look into this matter, and ascertain on what or whose authority Mr. Nash is making or proposing to make these payments, and why we are kept so long waiting for our money, and why we are requested to go to Fort Gibson, in the Cherokee Nation, at a great expense and loss of time.
Our claim agent, J. W. Wight, is amply paid for his trouble, and we claim it as our right that he pays us in our own country.
Again, in behalf of our discharged soldiers, their widows and orphans, of those who lost their lives in the service of the United States, we earnestly appeal to you who was appointed by the Government to look after its and our interests mutually, to investigate this matter, and if necessary, to go to Washington and lay the case before the proper authorities, and ask of them justice for us.
Colonel J. W. DUNN,
United States Agent for Creek, Creek Agency, Creek Nation.