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To the memory of my parents, Calvin and Laura Cushman, as Heralds of the Cross of Christ, they, with a few other congenial spirits, left their homes in Massachusetts, A. D. 1820, as missionaries, and went to the Choctaw Indians, then living in their Ancient Domains east of the Missisippi River. Devoted their lives to the moral and intellectual improvement and spiritual interests of that peculiar and interesting race of mankind, living and dying the sincere and abiding friends of the Red Man of the North American Continent.
To the Choctaw and Chickasaw people, each the now feeble remnant of, a once numerous, independent, contented and happy people, whose long line of ancestry dates back to the pre-historic ages of the remote past, it is ascribed in loving remembrance of the writer's earliest and most faithful friends, whom he has a just cause to cherish for their many long known and tested virtues.
To bring one's material to a strictly historical and classified order is almost an impossibility when dealing with a subject so diversified as that of the Red Race of the North American Continent. But I have sought, found and brought together an amount of information concerning that peculiar people that has never before been published; having been born of parents who were missionaries to the Choctaws in 1820, and having been reared among them and intimately acquainted with them during the vicissitudes of a life extending to nearly four score of years. I well know that the Indian race has oft been the subject of the pen, and still continues to be, but only in short details, thus leaving the reader in bewilderment, though historical truths were to be found in abundance among them wherever one turned truths one can never forget; scenes and events which have an imperishable memory.
Then come awhile with me, reader, from what you have hitherto learned about the Red Man of this continent, to that which may be entirely new to you no matter how old it may be to others; since you might learn something more of the primitive influences which shaped the career of the North American Indians in their dealings with the White Race from their first acquaintance to the present day; as I have endeavored to present many based upon knowledge acquired by a personal acquaintance, with two tribes (closely allied) during a protracted life of many years, seeing and learning the romance and poetry of their natures, a people of interest, moral worth and individuality of character. I know that to all my race, the Indian (comparatively speaking) lives only in the vague memory of the legendary past - that period made vivid by the wrongs of the White Race perpetrated upon the Red-all a series of struggles terminating in sanguinary executions when no services rendered by the tribe in their vain struggle to be free, availed to save the defeated Chieftain from a felon's grave; while the feeble remnant that still survives stands as the best commentary of their wrongs, while they despairingly cry "kill us also, and thus complete your cruelty by taking our lives as you began with our liberties." Truly, what a sad and melancholy record is their history; undervalued by the civilized world, though in opposition to the declarations of all who knew them as justice demanded they should be known. Alas, broken-hearted for
two centuries, yet having their souls pierced and lacerated by the poisonous shafts of unjust defamation and cruel falsehood, while they sadly ask in lamentations of woe:,"Where is to be the end"? Only to hear echo's fearful response, "The grave." Therefore they seem indifferent now as to what the world is doing around them, since none extend the hand of friendship to them but to defraud; none smile on their dejected faces but to deride; none sympathize with them in their poverty but to mock; and now when you meet them, they neither look to the right nor left, but straight forward walking with slow and measured steps that betoken the thoughts of a helpless and hopeless people-hopeless, at least, of all that life may bring them of freedom and prosperity. Few even speak to them in tones of kindness, yet all momentarily stop to gaze on them with wondering stare as if they were cumberers of the ground, though there is still upon their faces of despair a visible touch of lingering chivalry worthy of a better fate.
With many of their illustrious men (long deceased) whom I have brought into this history, I was personally acquainted through the vicissitudes of many years; with others, though not personally, yet I knew their minds and the motives of their actions, and these truly constitute the man. And they were men whose high endowments (nature's gift) could not be misled into selfish ambition; nor prosperity inflate; nor disappointment depress from holy trust and honorable action known by the veritable touch-stone, "Ye shall know a tree by its fruits." Nor have I sketched a virtue that I have not seen, nor painted a folly from imagination; but have endeavored to be faithful to reality, in all things as touching that peculiar yet noble race of the human family, who sought resignation in all their misfortunes and woes, and found it only in the decrees of the "Great Spirit" who had given to their race so many centuries of uninterrupted bliss, truly a noble people who taught misfortune dignity.
They had never left their secluded and quiet homes amid nature's forest groves to expose themselves to the contaminations of the vices (to them unknown) of the civilized (socalled) world of traffic and trade.
Sequestered from its view, neither its pageants nor its follies had ever reached them there. It was then and there I studied their unsophisticated natures with an enthu'siasm which is the fragrance of the flower that lives after the bloom is withered. Nor am I ashamed to confess my profound admiration of the North American Indian, to whom there was nothing so dear as his freedom unrestrained, which he proved beyond all dispute by fearlessly resisting