Voices of the Past: A Documentary Study
Chief John Ross, a Cherokee, ostensibly became the best tribal leader with much success during his generation (Perreira, 174). He did not relent in his cause to defend the right of Indians who were facing removal from their ancestral land. According to Perreira, the Cherokee had more traditional, old-school, and conservative supporters and did not find any interest in the whites' version of progress (175). They wished to stay in their land without evictions, as the US government had proposed. Feeling his tribe was oppressed and short-changed in a treaty that could have given them life, liberty, and estate, things he knew were natural rights. He wrote a letter to the United States government with different opinions and pleaded as he denounced the New Echota treaty. Property rights are fundamental human rights as far as natural laws are concerned; John and his Cherokee tribe deserved to stay in their ancestral land as long as that's what they wished for.
There is an act of betrayal in John's letter. John describes the act of individuals who were not authorized to act on behalf of the Cherokees but found their way to strike a deal with the United States government (Smith, Kit & Thomas, 470). These traitors altered key provisions that favored the opponents through fraudulent and false representation. Disgusted by this act, he had to protest to the government through a letter stating clearly they did not send these people and that they were fraudulent even though they were from Cherokee community, "a contract was made by the Rev. John F. Schermerhorn, and certain individual Cherokees, purporting to be a "treaty."
John addresses an act of mutual continuation. John was a brilliant leader who understood his audience perfectly well. He knew how to pinpoint things that resonated well with his audience; after invoking the New Echota treaty's invalidity, John argued that he understood few things would be more sacred to real Americans based on their property rights need. In the process, he addresses his desire that his people continue to live with the Americans arguing that they have learned their ways through endurance. He states that "Hundreds of our people have embraced their doctrines, practiced the virtues they teach, cherished the hopes they awaken and rejoiced in the consolations which they afford…". Therefore, the US government should replicate this by giving them a deserved justice by letting them stay on their ancestral land.
John feared his complaints would fall on deaf ears. John earnestly spent the last three paragraphs trying to acknowledge that the US government was still in control to sanction his wish. Although John did not allow prejudgment attitude to be visible in his writing, he addresses it. He states that "our cause is your own" and adds that the basis of liberty and justice is founded on the US government's principles which they have learned from them. According to Bens (247), in a court case where the Indians had accused the state of Georgia of passing laws that assured their sovereignty within their boundaries, the courts threw the case, arguing that the Cherokees were not a sovereign nation, neither were they, American citizens. John believed this could perhaps change, but he had to assure them that they were settling in, but the US remained in control while they abide by everything thrown at them.
John's primary intention was to convince the US government to let the Cherokees stay within their 7 million acres of ancestral land. However, through a treaty 500 Cherokee Indians, the US government, on behalf of the 16000 Indians, entered into an agreement that gave them present-day Oklahoma and $5 million (Fortney, 13). Upon receipt of the proposal, the senate ratified the document. The federal government was doing their research added a two-year extension upon realizing immense resistance from the Cherokee tribe. Had the government listened to John, the tribe would have stayed in their ancestral land while feeling they had been served justice. It's worth noting due to the white's removal guilt, a Golden Age occurred to offset the whites' guilt.
In conclusion, when the Indians of the Cherokee tribe were facing evictions from their ancestral land, Rev. John F. Schermerhorn managed to coerce a few individuals to sign a deal that would see them leave their land with a $5 million token. John Ross, an activist leader of the group at the time, protested the agreement as fraudulent and pleaded as he cited betrayal from a section of them, their right to own property; which he explained as natural rights to life, liberty, and estate, appeals to see justice as a reward for their endurance to learn the lives of the Americans. Despite John's points of arguments, John made the most sense when he acknowledged that everything they learned was from the US, such as their understanding of liberty. In a general view, John was logical to request to stay in a land their ancestors left for them irrespective of how he framed his letter.
Bens, Jonas. "When the Cherokee became indigenous: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and its paradoxical legalities." Ethnohistory 65.2 (2018): 247-267.
Fortney, Jeff. "Blood Moon: An American Epic of War and Splendor in the Cherokee Nation." Civil War Book Review 20.4 (2018): 13.
Perreira, Christopher. "Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory by Andrew Denson." Native American and Indigenous Studies 6.1 (2019): 173-175.
Smith, Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, and Thomas Fitzpatrick. "Robert J. Conley See also: Boudinot, Elias; Cherokee; Chickasaw; Choctaw; Creek; Indian Removal Act (1830); Jackson’s Indian Policy; New Echota, Treaty of (1835)." The Settlement of America: An Encyclopedia of Westward Expansion from Jamestown to the Closing of the Frontier (2015): 470.
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