The Principal Diplomat of the Cherokee Nation Defends His People of the Charge that they Were Forming an Alliance with Mexico
Digital History ID 3666
Many Texas towns and streets bear the names of Indian tribes—tribes which were long ago expelled from Texas. Today, only three Indian tribes make their home in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoos, and the Tiguas. At the time of the Texas Revolution, at least 26 Indian nations considered Texas their homeland. These included the Alabama-Coushatta, the Anadarko, the Apache, the Arapahoe, the Biloxi, the Caddo, the Cherokee, the Cheyenne, , the Chickasaw, the Coahuiltecan, the Comanche, the Delaware, the Hainai, the Jumano, the Karankawa, the Kichai, the Kiowa, the Kickapoo, the Pakana Muskogee, the Potawatomi, the Shawnee, the Tawakoni, the Tigua, the Tonkawa, the Waco, and the Wachita. Some tribes, such as the Karankawas, were drive to extinction. Others were forced out or fled. At the time of the Texas Revolution, about 40,000 Indians lived in Texas. Within three decades, almost all were gone.According to one scholarly estimate, between 5000 and 10,000 Indians died during these years. Sometimes, Indians are thought of as the tragic victims of an inevitable process of social change. But inevitability is only evident in hindsight. At the time, however, the outcome of events was unknown. Neither Anglos nor Indians were homogenous in their views or behavior. During the Revolution, Texas’ leaders worked hard to prevent the region’s Indians from siding with Mexico, out of a recognition that Indian warfare might doom their struggle for independence. As a result, Texas’ provisional government promised to respect the land rights of the Indians in east Texas, but failed to ratify a treaty spelling out these guarantees. In this document, the principal diplomat of the Cherokee Nation states that the overwhelming majority of his people wanted to remain neutral in the conflict between Texas and Mexico.
April 13, 1836
To the Committy [sic] of Safity [sic] Alcalda [Alcalde] or whom it may concern
I am instructed by the Chief of the Cherokee tribe, through his interpeter [sic] to inform you that he [?] or they have been missrepresented [sic] by some mischief making person a great deal to his displeasure. The person so offending is a Mr. H.M. Willson who has been staying among the tribe some days but has left for [N]acogdoches, thence to the United States and it is requested that he be apprehended [and chastised] according to what he diserves [sic]. The Chief expressed that he is very sorry that they have been so misrepresented as it has caused all the families that the report has reached to have [left] their homes taking [sic] what they could pack off and leaving their stock, etc. exposed[.] The offender has reported that when he left the indians were assimbled [sic] in hostile arry [array], and that he escaped with som[e] difficulty, and that he had no doubt but that several white persons of his acquaintance with myself were killed, which is not the case, but that every thing is as it was, all in peace and quietude, and it is his, the Chief’s particular request so to reman [remain]. The Chief [requests me to] say that the persons reported to have been killed are at this time present and that he looks upon them with friendship and to Satisfy you that they, the indians, are as they were before, in peace, he sends you the compromise, or understanding which was understood when they were misrepresented last fall or winter[.]
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