More Dawes Commission Negotiations

About the same time that the Dawes Commission was negotiating with the Cherokees, Isparhecher, the full-blood chief of the Creek Nation, had advised the Creek Council not to treat any further with the commission, as he was opposed to any change in their governmental affairs, except such as they should agree to among themselves. The Creek Council, however, refused to accept their chief’s recommendation, for while they were not satisfied with the proposals of the commission, yet they felt that the Government would soon compel them to come to some sort of an agreement, and they feared that if they refused any further conferences with the commission, Congress might enact such laws as it might deem advisable without their consent.

The following address was delivered by Wiley McIntosh, a full-blood Creek and member of the Creek Council, at a public gathering near Tulsa, in August, 1897:

“There is now going on among us, the present campaign of troops for the purpose of clearing the last home of the Indian, of the presence of unbidding whites that will ever be witnessed within the bounds of the United States, in the effort to check the ever increasing sway and rule of the white man. From small and separate colonies of English, Dutch and French settling on the borders of what is now called the American Union, the white race has mingled in blood, strengthened in policy, and spread in conquest until now this race has conquered all opposition of arms and is taking peaceable possession of the widest known civilized domain. The last armed enemy who opposed his coming has surrendered and is now at his mercy and his disposal, while the territory fought over for 300 years is being portioned out to the white race as an abiding home for him and his children forever. No more will be heard the whizzing of the feathered arrow, met in its flight by the bullet from the white man’s rifle. The war song is hushed for eternity and the smoke of the council fire hovers no longer over the children of the forest. They are gone. The white man goes unarmed. The white man goes unarmed among the remnants of his once terrible foe, seeking everywhere to plant his vine and fig tree, and rear a civilized home. Outside the domain of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians is no resistance offered to his taking possession, and he is only waiting for the peaceful signal by his own Government to enter and possess. Here within the alien country of the five tribes alone, he is yet forbidden. Here is his last opposition; here is the final stand. Here is the last struggling in opposing the march of the white race. Here is the final battle for supremacy on the Continent.

“Here now is the terminating contest in the long war between savagery and civilization; between progress and barbarism; between the white and the red. And to what strange ends have we come in this long struggle when diplomacy has taken the place of the tomahawk, and a scrap of paper replies instead of the rifle. The Indian relies on treaties and diplomacy to rid the country of white men and the white men depend upon lawful rights and a written permit. The struggle is the same but the methods are new ; and the results-can there be any doubt as to the final results? Is the conclusion of the whole matter not already a foregone conclusion, seen as plainly by the Indians as by the white main? In the end the white man will win in the contest, as when the bow and rifle played their part. It must be so. Progress cannot be stayed at the petty demand of civilized hate, aided and abetted in the work by schemers, who seek nothing but private interest in stirring antipathy of the red man toward the white, knowing it is done to the red man’s destruction.

“Over the whole wide Union no other place exists where the white man owns nothing, and is successfully withstood in his efforts to gain a foothold. The domain of the Five Tribes is the last alien land, and the battle is now on to decide the fate. It is useless to mince matters or to evade the true issue. Beginning in the Chickasaw Nation to extend to the rest of the tribes the last battle between the races is now being fought to determine a final supremacy over all this land. It is the last struggle of a dying nationality before passing out of existence as such forever.

“No one with justice in his heart can blame the motive which inspires this last effort, and yet no one with judgment can predict anything but disaster for the attempt to preserve Indian autonomy. The time for it to disappear has come, and it is now better fore the Indians that it should disappear, and with it all that remains of the ancient customs and traditions. Their surroundings are such now that they could not possibly continue as they have been, even if both white and red desired it. They hey are crowded, cramped, enclosed from without, and divided and discontented among themselves. The end has come and they feel it, recognize it. but they would be strange humanity if they failed to resent this decree of fate by some manifestation of rebellion against it.

“This is the philosophy of the situation, and he who encourages the discontent and incites the passions of hate to fiercer heat is either blind to the steady record of destiny or seeks personal advantage in the more perfect destruction of the human race. The fact may be a sad one, but it is nevertheless a fact, that there is no longer a place on the soil of the Union for the Indian, as an Indian. The pathos of his situation should and does appeal to all just men, but the logic of fate cannot be moved by the praying of a falling race, nor their destiny averted by a tear for their end. I would most respectfully ask that we as members of the National Council should take these matters into deep consideration, and look toward the best interest to our country and our young generation, wives and children.”

These addresses fairly represented the views of the full-blood Indians. While, at first, they were very emphatic in their opposition to agreeing to any proposition which had for its ultimate object the final dissolution of their tribal affairs, they finally became convinced that the United States Government was determined to take action of some kind, either with or without their consent, and in order that they might have a voice in determining what the character of the threatened legislation should be, the majority of the Indians gradually fell in line and consented to treat with the Dawes Commission, although, to this day, some of the full-bloods are not satisfied with the changes which have since been brought about.

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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