Cherokee Phoenix and Indians' Advocate
Vol. III No. 17
Saturday, September 4, 1830
Pg. 2 Col. 4b
For the Cherokee Phoenix.
MR. EDITOR- Having made our residence this summer with many other Cherokees at the great gold mines in the nation on the Chestatee River, the present boundary line between the Cherokees and the State of Georgia, we have been enabled to experience the edicts of President Jackson's policy, and the operation of the laws of Georgia over the Cherokee Nation, which have been executed with the utmost rigor on the already disquited Cherokees. It will be recollected by the public, that a number of us, citizens of the Cherokee Nation who were digging for gold at the above place, were served with writs of injunction to stay waste, issued by a justice of the state of Georgia. The exercise of this power as a right by the authorities of Georgia was certainly very questionable with us, the Cherokees never having conceded to Georgia or any other power to govern us. We considered that the writ could have no binding force on us.- We were under the conviction, we had at least as good right to gold in our own country as the Georgians, thousands of whom were digging without the least molestation. Consequently, the writ of injunction was considered invalid by us. A mandate by a Judge from the state of Georgia, we presumed could not bind an Indian in the Cherokee Nation. Influenced by these considerations, the injunction was not complied with. The processes were under the directon of Mr. King, Agent, appointed by Governor Gilmor to superintend gold mines, notwithstanding the law of intercese enacted by Congress of March 1802, and incorporated into our treaties, which prohibits all citizens of the United States from crossing the Indian boundary without a passport, given by some agent appointed by the President for that purpose. The Governor of Georgia has exercised a power to supersede this international law, by appointing agents, surveyors, &c in the Cherokee Nation.
Another writ was obtained by Mr. King, called in Georgia ATTACHMENT to bind and take our persons, on the alleged ground of not complying with the injunction. The pages of this mandate was unfolded to us by a company of Georgians armed with guns and pistols. A few minutes before we were employed in an occupation that we always considered unfettered by any treaties of the Cherokee Nation. It appeared now the faith of the U. States had vegetated into guns and pistols, by which we were arrested and carried into Georgia, before his honor Judge Clayton, to shew cause for violating the bill of injunction.
The Cherokees, for ages past, had been as free as the air that blows over the foliage of their beautiful forests. We had always appreciated liberty more than any people on earth, and in the year of our Lord 1830, the political sons of GEORGE WASHINGTON arresting our persons, in our own country, without ever having violated the first sentence of the municipal law of Georgia, was viewed by us as the most flagrant violation of our rights, and the most palpable infringement on the laws of the federal union.
Submission to our oppressors we considered was advisable, and dictated by prudence, and also that it might enable us to see what laws of Georgia could find jurisdiction of this case.- We were ordered to march n the midst of a guard of Georgians, and as we marched across the once respected boundary line, we were still enabled as we reached the summit of the Georgia hills to catch a glimpse of the towering landscapes of our forefathers, the scenes of their youthful days, the quiet homes of our wives, and the peaceful firesides of our beloved children. These reflections produced feelings on us that our pen fails to relate. But our fortitude was not yet extinguished- we were still animated to bear up under the bondage of one of the best governments on earth-we had sacred rights to be sustained--we were the interested individuals for the salvation of the Cherokees--we possessed a country, the value of which could not be reached even by counted millions of the white man's money. In the meantime we passed many improvements of the Georgians, but they were not of the flourishing class. We thought they were inferior to those of the Cherokees. The epithet of Senator Forsyth, which had its birth in the August Senate of "Columbia, happy land" appeared to have been congenial with his constituents. It was applied as we passed some companies- "sheriff, where are you taking these poor devils!"- We really had reasons to think that the Cherokees could be safer in the deminions of the Sultan.
We reached Wadkinsville the third day, where there were many people attending court. We were marched by the guard to a tavern, which attracted the attention of a numerous company, to see the Cherokee prisoners and the cause of arrest, which amounted to digging gold in the Cherokee nation & a formidable guard was necessary to bring the prisoners safe to that place. The writ was returned to his honor as executed; who fixed on the next day to try the case.- Accordingly we were notified to appear before his honor for which we were anxiously looking in order to see what this judge could do with a case that was wholly Cherokee. Two lawyers appeared at the bar by our authority, and the case was opened for trial. His honor looked upon the case as not governed by law, but altogether as governed by his discretion. No jury had a right to hear this case, the white bench of justice was alone competent. A bill of costs for contempt of court was handed us amounting to ninety three dollars & we held committed until its liquidation. This verdict against us we apprehended to be final, no tribunal being known to us from which we could seek redress. The alternative of submitting with a view to a restoration of our personal liberty, had to be adopted. But this was not all. His honor posessing new light on the sovereignty of states, and not disposed as we think, to adhere to the science of strict law, bound us in a bond to appear before him at his court at Gainsville, on the third Monday in September next, to answer the bill of injunction, when and where its merits will be tried.
Another case transpired a short time previous to our being captivated in Choitoe, on the sources of the Hightower River, which has made some progress towards accomplishing the secret moving principle, to expel the Cherokees by a powerful effort of oppression. The highhanded treatment of Bear's Paw by the Georgia officers in taking his property to pay another man's debts, as related in the Phoenix some time ago, was substantially true. The poor Indian has taken shelter now on the Tennessee side of the line. The case to which reference is now made is as follows: a constable, Crow of Habersham County, brought out one or two writs against Cherokees living in the above village, consisting of about eight families. These poor Indians were aware of the visit by the officers- they locked their houses and fled for shelter to the great mountains to avoid persecution and secure their little all, the hard earnings of poverty, for the subsistence of their families. The officers arrived in the absence of the occupants, found the houses locked, and no property to secure the claim.--but they destroyed the lock of one house without any warrant for that purpose, and made a forcible entry. The goods and chattels which he found subject to his levy were a blow gun, a brass kettle, which was partly worn out by the ravages of time, and a padlock on all which he laid the mandate of Georgia with an unwielding hand. These Indians are now seeking shelter on the Tennessee side of the line.
It is also necessary that the public should be informed of the effects and fate of the orders from the Department of War, which were transmitted by the Agent of the nation to the special council of last month, in which the agent was ordered to co-operate with the commanding officer of the United States for the removal of all gold diggers. These orders were construed by the agent and Capt. Brady as including the Cherokees. They repaired to the gold mines, with a detachment of troops, and removed the gold diggers; the Cherokees being included they also were ordered to desist forthwith. This of course had to be complied with, while in the presence of the glittering bayonets of the American Republic, which were once the succor of the unfortunate Cherokee. The troops returned, and so did the gold diggers, and we calculated there were about four thousand persons digging Cherokee gold when we left the mines.