Memorial of the Creek Indians

MEMORIAL
OF THE CREEK NATION OF INDIANS.
WASHINGTON, 3d. Feb.. 1830

To the Honorable, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:

The memorial of the undersigned chiefs, expressly sent by their nation for the purpose, respectfully showeth to your honorable bodies, that many years are past, and great many chiefs have slept with the dead, since the first time when the white and red man became acquainted; and past events, and the deeds of men who are no more, are only known in books, or in the memory of the living. The Creek nation, so far back as their tradition is disposed to tell, long before they saw the ancestors of this Great Council fire, which is now blazing in this place, were a free people, in the undisturbed enjoyment of those rights held sacred among men, derived from the Great Master of breath, who created mankind equal, in possession of an unmolested enjoyment of life, and the blessings of self-government. These privileges were found with us by civilized man, who came, as he said, possessed of friendly feelings to our people, and in whose promises there is no deception. In the capacity of a separate people and nation, with the power of concluding treaties forty years ago, our nation entered into an alliance, and at the same time, placed itself under the protection of the United States, during the administration of Washington, whose name, as the Great Chief of your Government, is respected and reverend by your people. A few extracts of subsisting treaties between the United States and our nation will bear us out in this assertion. The first treaty of New York, by our nation and General Knox, there to especially appointed by the Present [sic], contains the following articles of treaty: "1st. There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all the citizens of the United States of America, and all the individuals, towns, and tribes of the Upper, Middle, and Lower Creeks, and the Seminoles, composing the Creek Nation of Indians." 2d. Article places them under the protection of the United States aforesaid, and of no other Sovereign, and the Creeks, stipulate not to hold any treaty "with an individual, State, or with individuals of any State." Article 5th. The United States solemnly guaranty to the Creek Nation all their lands within their limits and article 6th says, "If any citizens of the States or other persons not being an Indian shall attempt to settle among the Creek Indians, shall forfeit the protection of the United States, and the Creeks may punish him or not as they please." "Article 7th. No citizen or inhabitant of the United States shall attempt to hunt or destroy the game on the Creek lands, nor shall any such citizen go into the Creek country without a passport." &c.

"Article 8th. If any Creek Indian or Indians, or persons residing among them, or who shall take refuge in their nation, shall commit a robbery or murder, or other capital crime, on any citizen or inhabitant of the United States, the Creek Nation, or town or tribe to which such offender or offenders may belong shall be bound to deliver him or them up to be punished according to the laws of the United States.

"Article 9th. If any citizen or inhabitant of the United States, or either of the territorial districts of the United States shall go into any town, settlement, or territory belonging to the Creek Nation of Indians, and shall there commit any crime upon or trespass against the person or property of any peaceable and friendly Indian or Indians, which if committed within the jurisdiction of any State or within the jurisdiction of either of the said districts against a citizen or white inhabitant thereof, would be punishable by the laws of such State or District such offender or offenders shall be subject to the same punishment, and shall be proceeded against in the same manner as of the offender had been committed within the jurisdiction of the State or District which he or they may belong against a citizen or white inhabitant thereof.

"Article 19. In case of violence on the person and property of the individuals of either party, neither retaliation nor reprisal shall be committed by the other until satisfaction shall have been demanded of the party of which the aggressor is, and shall have been refused."

Subsequent to the ratification of the aforesaid treaty same [sic] of the citizens of the United States, having intruded on the Indian lands in violation of treaty stipulation, hostilities were occasioned, and which were closed by a treaty of peace and friendship, at Colerain, in Georgia, six years after that of New York, by Commissioners, to wit: Benjamin Hawkins, George Clymer, and Andrew Pickens, specially thereto appointed by the President, by and with the advice of the Senate. The provisions above quoted in the treaty of New York, having been confirmed in an article of this treaty, we find the following stipulation contained in Article 9th: "All animosities for past grievances shall henceforth cease, and the contracting parties will carry the foregoing treaty into full execution with all good faith and sincerity: provided nevertheless, that persons now under arrest in the State of Georgia, for a violation of the treaty of New York, are not to be included in this amnesty but are to abide the decision of law." A third treaty, between the United States and the Creek Nation was concluded by Jas. Williamson, of Maryland, Brigadier General in the army of the United States, Benjamin Hawkins of North Carolina, and Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, near Fort Williamson on the Oconee River, 16th June, 1802 during the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, in the 2d article of which we find the following stipulation: "The Commissioners of the United States, for and in consideration of the foregoing cession on the part of the Creek Nation, and in full satisfaction for the same do hereby covenant and agree with the said nation, annually and every year, the sum of three thousand dollars & one thousand dollars for the term of ten years to the chiefs who administer the Government &c. It is impossible to misapprehend the application of this stipulation in which, although it was unnecessary to recognize the Government of a Nation with which the U. States were concluding a treaty, it is acknowledged in writing, to be read by future generations, that the Creek Nation at that time, were in possession and administering upon a Government of their own. "The fourth treaty of the United States with our nation was concluded by Henry Dearborn, Secretary of War, and certain headmen of the Creek Nation in Washington city 14th November, 1805, in which is found the following: "Article 2d. It is hereby stipulated and agreed on the part of the Creek Nation, that the Government of the United States shall, forever hereafter, have a right to a horse path through the Creek country, from the Ocmulgee and the Mobile; and the citizens of said States shall at all times have a right to pass peaceably on said path under such regulations and restrictions as the Government of the Unites States shall from time to time direct." A fifth treaty was entered between the U. States and Creek Nation by Major General Andrew Jackson and the Chiefs, Deputies, and Warriors of said nation, at Fort Jackson, on the 9th day of August, 1814. The first article of which after specifying the limits and boundary of the territory surrendered by the Indians to the United States, concludes with the following remarkable words: "Provide nevertheless, that when any possessions of any chief or warrior of the Creek Nation, who shall have been friendly to the United States during the war, and taken an active part therein, shall be within the territory ceded by these articles to the United States every such person shall be entitled to a reservation of land within the said territory, of one mile square, to include his improvements, as near the center as may be, which shall inure to the said chief or warrior and his descendants, so long as he or they shall continue to occupy the same, who shall be protected by and subject to the laws of the United States: but upon the voluntary abandonment thereof, said lands shall devolve to the United States, and be identified with the right of property ceded thereby." Over that portion of territory unceded [sic] by this treaty, the Creeks maintained jurisdiction, and were not subject to the United States laws and so understood by the contracting parties already mentioned. The 6th and 7th treaties were effected exclusively for the purpose of extinguishing the title of the Creek Nation to certain lands. We would now call your attention to the 8th and last treaty of importance, concluded in Washington City, 24th January, 1826, between James Barbour, Secretary of War, thereto specially authorized by the President of the United States, and certain chiefs and headmen of the Creek Nation thereto empowered by their nation. Tenth article contains these words: "It is agreed by the Creek Nation, that an agent shall be appointed by the President, to ascertain the damages sustained by the friends, &c. of Gen. Wm. M'Intosh, in consequence of the difficulties out of the Treaty of the Indians Springs, & which have been done contrary to the laws of the Creek Nation. Article 13th. The U. States agree to guaranty to the Creeks, all the country not herein ceded, to which they have a just claim, and to make good to them any losses they may incur in consequence of the illegal conduct of any citizen of the United States within the country."

Your memorialists have, within a few months past, experienced an unprecedented attack upon their liberties as a nation, and in gross violation of articles of treaty, in which the U. States stand bound for their protection, and which are submitted to your notice by our neighbor, the State of Alabama, which we believed equally pledged in the acts of the Union by which she had been created into existence, and of which she formed existence, and of which she formed a component part. We most earnestly desire from your nation, as a great and enlightened republic, the performance of the duties, in which she is in equity bound to execute to our poor and unfortunate people, who have been doomed to be blown by every blast, and to whom the returning years always brought new sorrows to lament, and new inventions to encounter as stumbling blocks laid before them by those who wish to acquire the scanty remnant of their lands, of which they once possessed extensive bounds. Excuse the liberty we take in showing you the state of our grievances, and from what source and in our opinion they are engendered. If Alabama in the benevolence of good feeling wished to pass laws over our people for the purpose of affording to them ample protection of life and property she might escape the verdict of reprehension in the mildness of her intentions. But when her policy is determined to grind down the hopes and subdue the spirits of the Indians, in the unequal government to which they are not accustomed, and to which they have not even devoted a thought, unless it were to anticipate the rigors of its plunder, or to drag our people to distant tribunals to answer complaints not before a jury of peers or vicinage, but before a jury of strangers who speak a language as strange, we may well deprecate the motives of Alabama whose ostensible object is not so much the exercise of sovereignty over, but, under the pretension to expel our nation from their country. The treaties containing the pledges and faith of the United States to us guarantied we understand; and now call on your sacred honors & magnanimity for their fulfillment. To the public, through newspapers and ingenious pamphlets fabricated by men who style themselves our friends and reformers we are represented as experiencing rapid diminution and decline in population; and to escape which, it is said, we are anxious to emigrate to that country so much eulogized by the friends of Indian Colonization. It is due to our nation to contradict these statements, which are calculated to mislead the minds of good men. Our people are determined, let the result be what it may, never to afford the State of Alabama an opportunity to excuse herself to the world by any concession on their part, to the schemes she has adopted to expel us from our lands. Her grasping rapacity and tyranny must stand, as a monument to future generations of wanton violation of laws respected by civil and barbarous nations! Emancipated negroes, whose ancestors were here, by force transported, are, at their choice, taken to the land of their fathers in Africa; but to the Indians, the exercise of free agency in matters most essential to their happiness is almost denied. Compulsion, in its hideous features of inhumanity, is not avowed but is indirectly exerted, to eject us from repose and firesides we enjoy, in a country to which we have the best of titles, by possession and solemn guaranties of the United States. We must protest against the withdrawal of that protection which the United States, to us, have pledged themselves in treaties heretofore concluded, which, instead of ambiguous language guaranties to our nation, in plain terms, all the rights not by them surrendered in the submission of their fate to your friendship, and to no other sovereign whatever. It was never expected, nor is it now believed, that in our weak and dependent condition, we should be thrown from the arms of the United States, to the rigorous management of any State disposed to fatten on the ruins of our natural and civil rights. We beg permission to be left, where your treaties have left us, in the enjoyment of rights as a separate people, and to be treated as unoffending, peaceable inhabitants of our own, and not a borrowed country. The doctrine, that Indians are an erratic people, who have only run over lands of extensive bounds in pursuit of the chase, are not therefore, justly entitled to the same, is inapplicable to our people, who have settled habitations in villages and towns. But we would respectfully ask by what better right the Sovereigns of Europe enjoyed, to grant charters of extensive Territories, which they had never seen, and on which they had never trod? May we hope and ask of the Representatives of this great Nation, to deal to our people that measure of justice to which they are entitled, and pledged to them, from the Treaty of New York, in 1790 to the treaty of the City of Washington, in 1826; The question is not upon what interest of a State may unlawfully require; or not upon what the Indians ought to do, but what has been done in their treaties with the United States. In behalf, and for the Creek Nation, we are yours, &c.

Opotle Yoholo, his X mark
Tuckaubatchie Hajo, his X mark
Tuckaubatchie Mico, his X mark
Coosa Tustenugge, his X mark
Cansa Tustenuggee, his X mark
Tustenuggee Ematla, his X mark
Smut Eye, his X mark

JOHN RIDGE, Clerk Delegation
WM. MCGIRTH,Do
DANIEL B. ASBURY,Debuty [sic]
SAMUEL SMITH,Interpreter
NIMBOD DOGELL