Tribes who lost their land and sovereignty left eloquent testaments to their trials. An 1895 Cherokee delegation to the federal government in Washington, D.C. directed these remarkably prophetic words to their Chief S. H. Mayes:
East of the Mississippi we were a happy people. The United States wanted our country there; reluctantly we parted with it, and to this day have not received all that was promised us for it…the terms of the agreement…were changed by act of Congress without our consent, and yet, after changing those terms to its own liking, the Government has not complied with them. And now, they want us to enter into another agreement—an agreement with the Dawes Commission.
But what assurance have we, even if we were disposed to come to an agreement with that Commission, that the terms of such agreement would not be swept aside and others, to which we could never assent, imposed upon us? We think it would be but fair on (the) part of the Government to comply with the agreements already made with our people, before asking us to enter into others of a nature more serious in their character than any hitherto proposed.
If our country were revolutionized as contemplated in the scheme of the Dawes Commission, it would become easy for capitalists and monied men of less degree to soon become the owners of millions. But…what about our people, who are, now, the legal owners and sovereigns of these lands?
Why the question is easy of answer. Crushed to earth under the hoofs of business greed, they would soon become a homeless throng…no territorial or state legislation can protect the Indian in his rights. Business has no moral consciousness; when a statute comes in its way, it will invoke the aid of a ‘higher law’ and grasp the Indian’s property anyhow...
It is wonderful, too, to see with what unanimity the (U.S. news)papers exclaim that “Carthage must be destroye(d)”…
As far as the Indian people are concerned, the present are days to try men’s souls; and he who is made of stuff so lofty of nature, as to rise superior to all selfish considerations and, in face of the popular clamor of the times, boldly speak out in favor of the rights and freedom of the Indians, becomes an object worthy to be venerated by the good and great in all lands.
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Oklahomans Vol 2 :
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