A Former Commissioner of Indian Affairs Denounces the Failure to Keep Whitess Off Cherokee Lands
Digital History ID 679
Thomas L. McKenney
Thomas L. McKenney was the first Commissioner of Indian Affairs, holding the office from 1824 to 1830, when he was dismissed by President Jackson. Here, he attacks the federal government for failing to keep whites off of Cherokee land as required by treaty.
The fifth article of the treaty [between the Cherokee Nation and the United States]...contains this provision: "--And all white people who have intruded, or may hereafter intrude, on the lands of the Cherokees, shall be removed by the United States"....
But this law was destined, at last, though unrepealed, to become a dead letter! The solemn compacts with the Indians, guaranteeing to them "protection," were treated as things obsolete, or regarded as mockeries. In the face, and in violations of the provisions...surveyors were permitted to penetrate the Indian territory, roam over it, lay it off into counties, and to proceed, in all things, for its settlement, as though no Indians occupied it, and no laws existed, demanding the interference of the government to prevent it! In vain did the Indians implore the government to protect them; in vain did they call the attention of the Executive to the provisions of treaties, and to the pledges of the law.
Source: Thomas L. McKenney, Sketches of Travels among the Northern & Southern Indians (3rd ed.; New York, 1854), Vol. I, 256-62.
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