« ElőzőTovább »
whites have the power of subduing almost every animal to your use. But you are surrounded by slaves ; every thing about you is in chains, and you are slaves yourselves. I fear if I should exchange my pursuits for yours, I too should become a slave. Talk to my sons ; perhaps they may be persuaded to adopt your fashions, or at least recommend them to their sons; but for myself I was born free, was reared free, and wish to die free."*
Similar to these were the sentiments uttered by the chief of the Grand Pawnees, Sharitarouish, in a speech addressed to the President of the United States, at a grand council held at Washington, in the year 1822.† The following are extracts from it:
'My great father:I- I have travelled far to see you. I have seen you, and my heart rejoices. I have heard your words : they have entered one ear, and shall not escape the other. I will carry them to my people as pure as they came from your mouth. The Great Spirit looks down upon us, and I will call him to witness all that may pass between us on this occasion.
“ The Great Spirit made us all : he made my skin red, and yours white, he placed us on this
* Morse's Report, Appendix, p. 206.
+ The Indian speeches made at that council were translated and given to the public, by Major O'Fallon, the Indian agent, with the assistance of the other interpreters.
1 The Indian appellation given to the President.
earth, and intended
we should live differently from each other. He made the whites to cultivate the earth, and feed on domestic animals; but he made us to love through the uncultiyated woods and plains, to feed on wild animals, and to dress with their skins. He also intended that we should go to war -- to take scalps-to plunder horses from, and triumph over, our enemies -- to cultivate peace at home, and promote the happiness of each other.
“ My great father, some of your good chiefs have proposed to send several of their good people* among us to change our habits, to make us work and live like the white people. I will not utter a falsehood; I will tell the truth. You love your country — you love your people—you love the manner in which they live, and you think your people brave. I am like you, my great father ; I love my country - I love my people - I love the manner in which we live, and think myself and my warriors brave. Spare me then, my father ; let me enjoy my country, and pursue the buffalo, and the beaver, and the other wild animals of our land, and I will trade their skins with your people.
I have grown up, and lived thus long without work ; I am in hopes you will suffer me to die without it. We have plenty of buffalo, beaver, deer, and other
* Meaning the missionaries.
wild animals—we have also abundance of horseswe have every thing we want — we have plenty of land, if
you will keep your people off from it. It is too soon, my great father, to send those good men among us. We are not starving yet — we wish you to permit us to enjoy the chase until the game of our country and the wild animals become extinct. Let us exhaust our present resources before you make us toil, and interrupt our happiness ; let me continue to live as I have done; and after I have passed to the Good or Evil Spirit from off the wilderness of my present life, the subsistence of my children may become so precarious as to make them embrace the assistance of those good people.”
The Indian chief thus concluded his speech to the President: “Here, my great father, is a pipe, which I present you, as I am accustomed to present pipes to all the red skins in peace with us. It is filled with such tobacco as we were accustomed to smoke before we knew the white people: it is pleasant, and the spontaneous growth of the most remote parts of our country. I know that the robes, the mockasins, the bears'-claws, and other ornaments which we present, are of little value to you ; but we wish you to have them deposited and preserved in some conspicuous part of your lodge; so that when we are gone, and the sod turned over our bones, our children, should they visit this place,
as we do now, may see and recognise with pleasure the deposits of their fathers, and reflect on the times that are past.”
It appears unnecessary to enter further into details on the subject of the obstructions which have opposed themselves to civilizing the Indians of North America ; or upon the general treatment which might be advantageously extended towards them. It is obvious, that to wipe away the errors of at least two centuries, much caution is necessary. We cannot now expect that the native tribes will meet us half way in the object even of their own improvement; but kindness, conciliation, and regard may do much to recover the ground which has been lost, and ultimately to effect their civilization. Of this Mr. Hunter, than whom no one is better acquainted with the character of the Indians, does not despair. “ Taught by experience,” says he,“ that the white people are sincere in their efforts to serve them, their prejudices will gradually unbend; and they will acquire the knowledge of a few facts that will elicit and confirm a taste for further and more important attainments."* It cannot be doubted, that the Indians of North America are much more likely now to benefit from good example, and from their own
* Hunter's Memoirs, ch. 15.
observation, than by the positive instruction of others. One single Indian family copying, of its own accord, some of the best habits of regularity and industry observable among their civilized neighbours, would effect more for the ultimate advancement of the tribe or nation to which it belongs, than the active interference of generations of European, Canadian, or Anglo-American iinprovers : and in concluding the remarks upon this part of the subject, it may be noticed with regret, that those judicious suggestions which were recorded by Monsieur de Champlain upwards of two hundred years ago, should have been so little carried into practical operation, in those extensive regions of which he was one of the most early and enterprising discoverers.
“ It is not sufficient,” says Champlain, “ to send missionaries among the Indians, unless there are others appointed to support and assist them. It would require population and families to keep them to the proper course of duty, to prevail upon them by mild treatment to improve themselves, and by holding good examples before their eyes, to induce them to alter their manners and customs. Pères Le Caron and De Daillion, and I, have often conversed with them on the subject of their customs, laws, and belief.
They listened with attention, sometimes saying, 'You speak of things beyond our understanding, and we cannot compre