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Survival Strategies
Digital History ID 661

Author:   Pushmataha

Annotation: In a speech to the Choctaws and the Chickasaws, the Choctaw chief rejects Tecumseh's call for a pan-Indian alliance against the Americans. In 1814, Pushmataha fought with Andrew Jackson against the Creeks, the Spanish, and the English. But in the end, Pushmataha's strategy of cooperation proved no more successful than Tecumseh's strategy of armed resistance. In 1820, Pushmataha's people were forced to surrender five million acres of land in Mississippi for barren lands in Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas.

Document: The question before us now is not what wrongs have been inflicted upon our race, but what measures are best for us to adopt in regard to them; and though our race may have been unjustly treated and shamefully wronged by them [the whites], yet I shall not for that reason alone advise you to destroy them unless it was just and wise for you so to do; nor would I advise you to forgive them, though worthy of your commiseration, unless I believe it would be to the interest of our common good....

My friends and fellow countrymen! you now have no just cause to declare war against the American people, or wreak your vengeance upon them as enemies, since they have ever manifested feelings of friendship towards you. It is...a disgrace to the memory of your forefathers, to wage war against the American people merely to gratify the malice of the English.

The war, which you are now contemplating against the Americans...forbodes nothing but destruction to our entire race. It is a war against a people whose territories are now far greater than our own, and who are far better provided with all the necessary implements of war, with men, guns, horses, wealth, far beyond that of all our race combined, and where is the necessity or wisdom to make war upon such a people?

Source: H.B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians (Greenville, Texas: 1899), 315-18.

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