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THE CHEROKEES...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
I HAVE been requested to write a preface to this sad story of “A Century of Dishonor.” I cannot refuse the request of one wh0se_woman’s heart has pleaded so eloquently for the poor Red men. The materials for her book have been taken from official documents. The sad revelation of broken faith, of violated treaties, and of inhuman deeds of violence will bring a flush of shame to the cheeks ofthose who love their country. They will wonder how our rulers have dared to so trifle with justice, and provoke the anger of God. Many of the stories will be new to the reader. The Indian owns no telegraph, employs no press reporter, and his side of the story is unknown to the people.
Nations, like individuals, reap exactly what they sow; they who sow robbery reap robbery. The seed-sowing of iniquity re~ plies in a harvest of blood. The American people have accepted as truth the teaching that the Indians were a degraded, brutal race of savages, whom it was the will of God should perish at the approach of civilization. If they do not say with our Puritan fathers that these are the Hittites who are to be driven out before the saints of the Lord, they do accept the teaching that manifest destiny will drive the Indians from the earth. The inexorable has no tears or pity at the cries of anguish of the doomed race. Ahab never speaks kindly of Naboth, whom he has robbed of his vineyard. It soothes conscience to cast mud on the character of the one whom we have wronged.
The people have laid the causes of Indian wars at the door of the Indian trader, the people on the border, the Indian agents, the army, and the Department of the Interior. None of these are responsible for the Indian wars, which have cost the United States five hundred millions of dollars and tens of thousands of valuable lives. In the olden time the Indian trader was the Indian’s friend. The relation was one of mutual dependence. If the trader oppressed the Indian he was in danger of losing his debt; if the Indian refused to pay his debts, the trader must leave the country. The factors and agents of the old fur companies tell us that their goods were as safe in the unguarded trading-post as in the civilized village. The pioneer settlers have had too much at stake to excite an Indian massacre, which would overwhelm their loved ones in ruin. The army are not responsible for Indian wars; they are “men under authority,” who go where they are sent. The men who represent the honor of the nation have a tradition that lying is a disgrace, and that theft forfeits character. General Crook expressed the feeling of the army when he replied to a friend who said, “It is hard to go on such a campaign.” “ Yes, it is hard ; but, sir, the hardest thing is to go and fight those whom you know are in the right.” The Indian Bureau is often unable to fulfil the treaties, because Congress has failed to make the appropriations. If its agents are not men of the highest character, it is largely due to the fact that we send a man to execute this diflicult trust at a remote agency, and expect him to support himself and family on $1500 a year. The Indian Bureau represents a system which is a blunder and a crime.
The Indian is the only human being within our territory who has no individual right in the soil. He is not amenable to or protected by law. The executive, the legislative, and judicial departments of the Government recognize that he has a possessory right in the soil; but his title is merged in the tribe~—the man has no standing before the law. A Chinese or a Hottentot would have, but the native American is left pitiably helpless. This system grew out of our relations at the first settlement of the country. The isolated settlements along the Atlantic coast could not ask the Indians, who outnumbered them ten to one, to accept the position of wards. No wise policy was adopted, with altered circumstances, to train the Indians for citizenship. Treaties were made of the same binding force of the constitution ; but these treaties were unfilled. It may be doubted whether one single treaty has ever been fulfilled as it would have been if it had been made with a foreign power. The treaty has been made as between two independent sovereigns. Sometimes each party has
been ignorant of the wishes of the other; for the heads of both
parties to the treaty have been on the interpreter‘s shoulders, and he was the owned creature of corrupt men,who desired to use the Indians as a key to unlock the nation’s treasury. Pledges, solemnly made, have been shamelessly violated. The Indian has had no redress but war. In these wars ten white men were_kill