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THE INDIAN QUESTION.

BY

FRANCIS A. WALKER,

LATE U. S. COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.










BOSTON:
JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY,
(LATE TICKNOR AND FIELDS, AND FIELDS, OSGOOD, & CO.)
1874.




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874 by
F. A. WALKER,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.




BOSTON
RAND, AVERY, & CO., STEREOTYPERS AND PRINTERS.




CONTENTS.

PAGE
THE INDIAN QUESTION 5

INDIAN CITIZENSHIP 101

AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRIBES 148




THE INDIAN QUESTION.[A]


On the 3d of March, 1871, Congress declared that "hereafter no Indian
nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be
acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation, tribe, or power,
with whom the United States may contract by treaty."

Brave words these would have seemed to good William Penn, treating with
the Lenni Lenape, under the elm at Kensington; or even to doughty Miles
Standish, ready as that worthy ever was to march against the heathen who
troubled his Israel. Heathen they were in the eyes of the good people of
Plymouth Colony, but nations of heathen, without question, as truly as
were the Amalekites, the Jebusites, or the Hittites to the infant colony
at Shiloh. It would have been deemed the tallest kind of "tall talk," in
the councils of Jamestown, Providence, and Annapolis, to express
disdain for the proffered hand of Indian friendship, or even to object
to payment of some small tribute, in beads or powder, to these native
lords of the continent. In 1637, when Capt. John Mason marched against
Sassacus, at the head of ninety men, he had with him half the fighting
force of the Connecticut Colony. In 1653 a wall was built across
Manhattan Island to keep out the savages; though, when we say that the
line of defence just covered the present course of Wall Street (which
derives its name from that circumstance), our readers may not fail to
wonder whether the savages were not the rather kept in by it. In 1675,
when the New-England Colonies had grown comparatively strong, they
mustered for their war against Philip one thousand men, of whom
Massachusetts furnished five hundred and twenty-seven, Plymouth one
hundred and fifty-eight, and Connecticut three hundred and fifteen.

To men peering out from block-houses, or crouching behind walls,
awaiting the terrific yell of an Indian attack, it was not likely to
occur that they might compromise their dignity by treating on equal
terms with an enemy tenfold as numerous as themselves; nor were the
statesmen of that early heroic age likely to give themselves trouble
about the character and standing among the nations of the earth, of
confederacies that could bring five thousand warriors into the field.
And so the feeble colonies struggled on through those days of gloom and
fear, deprecating the anger of the savages as they might, and
circumventing their wiles when they could; played off one chieftain
against another; made contribution of malice and powder to every
intestine feud among the natives; bought off tribes, without much
scruple as to the ultimate fulfilment of their bargains; postponed the
evil day by every expedient, knowing that time was on their side: and
when they had, in spite of all, to fight, fought as men who know that
they will not themselves be spared,--planned ambuscades and massacres;
fired Indian camps, and shot the inmates as they leaped from their
blazing wigwams; studied and mastered all the arts of forest warfare;
and beat the savages with their own weapons, as men of the higher race
will always do when forced by circumstances to such a contest.

Nor during the early part of the eighteenth century, when all danger of
a war of extermination had passed from the apprehension of the most
timid, when the Colonies had become in a degree compacted, and the line
of white occupation had been made continuous from Massachusetts to
Georgia; nor later still, when the Colonies had become States, and the
representatives of the new nation of the Western world were received in
all the courts of Europe--was the policy abandoned of treating with the
Indian tribes as parties having equal powers of initiative, and equal
rights in negotiation. In nearly four hundred treaties, confirmed by the
Senate as are treaties with foreign powers, our government recognized
Indian tribes as nations with whom the United States might contract
without derogating from its sovereignty.

The treaties made with Indian tribes have, of course, been mainly
treaties of cession. Most of our readers will be surprised to learn the
extent of lands east of the Mississippi which are embraced in sales to
the United States; being no less than the entire States of Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, with
considerable portions of Tennessee, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And these
treaties were not a mere form to amuse and quiet savages, a
half-compassionate, half-contemptuous humoring of unruly children. The
United States were not then grown so great that they could afford to
value lightly the free relinquishment of the soil by the native owners
of it. At the time most of the treaties with tribes east of the
Mississippi were concluded, not only did the right remain in the
Indians, but enough of power, to make it as much a diplomatic triumph to
obtain a cession on favorable terms, as it would be to negotiate a
successful treaty with one of the States of Central America to-day. The
United States were clearly the stronger party in every such case; but
the Indians were, in the great body of instances, still so formidable,
that to wrest their lands from them by pure, brutal violence would have
required an exertion of strength which the government was ill prepared
to make. So that, while it is true that the Indians were generally made
ready to negotiate by the use of military force and by the pressure of
white settlements, it is not true that the considerations and privileges
accorded them in these treaties were a gift out of good-nature.

So much for the power of the Indians when they made these treaties.
Their right to their lands is quite as well established historically. In
the early history of the Western world, the principle was fully
recognized, that, while sovereignty rested, not with the Indians, but
with the civilized power claiming by virtue of discovery, the Indians
were the rightful occupants, with a just and perfect claim to retain
possession and enjoy the use until they should be disposed voluntarily
to part with it. Great Britain, Holland, France, and Spain, the four
powers claiming sovereignty by virtue of discovery within the present
territory of the United States, conceded no less than this to the
natives; while France, in the cession of the province of Louisiana,
expressly reserved the rights allowed the Indians by its own treaties
and articles, "until, by mutual consent of the United States and the
said tribes or nations, other suitable articles shall have been agreed
upon."

"Such being the right of the Indians to the soil, the United
States for more than eighty-five years pursued a uniform
course of extinguishing the Indian title only with the consent
of those Indian tribes which were recognized as having claim
by reason of occupancy: such consent being expressed in
treaties, to the formation of which both parties approached,
as having equal rights of initiative, and equal rights in
negotiation. These treaties were made from time to time (not
less than 372 being embraced in the general statutes of the
United States) as the pressure of white settlements, or the
fear or the experience of Indian hostilities, made the demand
for the removal of one tribe after another urgent or
imperative. _Except only in the case of the Indians in
Minnesota, after the outbreak of 1862, the United-States
Government has never extinguished an Indian title as by right
of conquest_; and in this latter case the government provided
the Indians another reservation, besides giving them the
proceeds of the sales of the lands vacated by them in
Minnesota; so scrupulously, up to that time, had the right of
the Indians to the soil been respected, at least in form. It
is not to be denied that wrong was often done in fact to
tribes in the negotiation of treaties of cession. The Indians
were not infrequently overborne or deceived by the agents of
the government in these transactions; sometimes
unquestionably, powerful tribes were permitted to cede lands
to which weaker tribes had a better claim: but, formally at
least, the United States accepted the cession successively of
all lands, to which Indian tribes could show color of title,
which are embraced in the limits of any of the present States
of the Union except California and Nevada."--_Report on Indian
Affairs_, 1872, pp. 83, 84.

In 1871, however, the insolence of conscious strength, and the growing
jealousy of the House of Representatives towards the prerogative--arrogated
by the Senate--of determining, in connection with the executive, all
questions of Indian right and title, and of committing the United States
incidentally to pecuniary obligations limited only by its own discretion,
for which the House should be bound to make provision without inquiry, led
to the adoption, after several severe parliamentary struggles, of the
declaration which stands at the head of this paper.

In abruptly terminating thus the long series of Indian treaties, and
forever closing the only course of procedure known for the adjustment of
difficulties, and even for the administration of ordinary business, with
Indian tribes, Congress provided no substitute, and up to the present
time has neglected to prescribe the methods by which, after the
abrogation of the national character of the Indians, either their
internal matters or their relations with the general government are to
be regulated.



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