Visit to the Cherokee Capitol Building

A Visit (to the Cherokee Capitol Building)

There is a relief even to the disappointed when the suspense and doubtfulness of a controversy has been passed. This seems to be the condition of matters in Tahlequah this morning. A visit to the council and executive department discloses this fact in the outward appearances at least. There may be a slumbering discontent, but really, conditions are seemingly accepted.

Stepping into the council chamber the attention of one is at once arrested by the appearance of a full house. After observing for a while the run of business, he will discover that a contest is under examination, and that the case is between Mr. Johnson Fields, member elect of the Downing Party, and Andrew Lasley, a colored gentleman and defeated candidate for legislative honors, of the National.

Occupying the central point of the picture we discover attorneys, Henry Coval, R.W. Walker and Ridge Paschal on part of the defense, and E.C. Boudinot, Jr., John Springston and John Grass, on part of the prosecution. The reading of the evidence in the case is going on. This being rather tedious, we will step into the senate chamber. Here we discover more spectators than members, a full representation consisting of eighteen members, so that one member is equal to a little more than two councilors in legislative power.

Looking over those seated at the desks, we discover Hon. L.B. Bell, the wit of the senate, whose contest as well as that of Houston Benge has been withdrawn. The appearance here is that of preparation for business. The scene reminds one of an old fashioned Cherokee ball play, when the players were examining closely the strength of their opponents before the tug came. Seeing this is the case, whether fanciful or not, let’s walk up to the executive department.

Entering at the door of the east room, we find a considerable number of men setting around the stove, all busily chatting and smoking pipes and cigars. The topics of conversation are various, ranging from the grave and serious to the humorous and pleasant. Beyond the group seated around the stove, are three desks on line with each other, at which are seated three secretaries. One only seems to be busy. He is filling out warrants to pay the members of the national council on what is aptly termed the “No one Bill” and is the only one that has been passed this council. It being as it were the beginning of a term, there is scarcely any general business. More especially is this so, because the new chief is but just initiated into the duties of his office.

Passing out of this room the middle or library room is reached. Fenced off by a picket from public ingress are between fifteen hundred and two thousand volumes consisting of congressional proceedings, proceedings of the legislature of the different states and reports without number. To any but the general politician and those of legal occupation the whole thing is a desert without an oasis or song bird.

The next is called the Chief’s Room. Here, as a natural consequence, we look for him who is at the head of the government. He is not hard to find among the crowd who are standing about in groups or occupying seats in comfortable distance from the stove. He is distinguished by his portly size, healthy appearance and that distingue [sic] that should point out the ruler of a people.

By the same token, one can easily discover the assistant Principal Chief, Hon. Samuel Smith. He is every inch an Indian, naturally highly gifted, or pleasant and agreeable manners, and the greatest orator among his people. He is tall and erect, his eyes large, black and intelligent, his mouth large and nose Roman. He is of that age when ambition is not for self, but for the good of those whose welfare he is called to promote and safely protect.

Info provided by the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center cultural@cherokee.org