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Published by the American Unitarian Association, at 81 Washington Street. – Printed by Isaac R. Butts and Co.
BOSTON, SATURDAY, MAY
VOL. V. No. 19.
The Cherokees. The recent visit of Mr Elias Boudinot to this city, has afforded us opportunity to collect a number of interesting particulars relative to the condition and prospects of the Cherokee nation. Their country, it is well known lies in the chartered limits of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Its extent, as defined by treaties, is about two hundred miles in length, by about 120 in breadth. Consequently, the number of square miles is not far from 24,000; or more than the aggregate number contained in the four states of Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The surface of the soil is various; but more generally, especially in the northern parts, hilly and mountainous. In the southern and western parts there are extensive and fertile plains, covered in many places with trees, and traversed with beautiful rivers and streams,
The population in 1810, was 12,395 Cherokees, 341 whites, and 583 blacks. Total 13,219. In 1824, according to a census taken by order of the Cherokee nation, there were 13,635 Cherokees, 230 whites, and 1377 blacks. Total 15,232. Increase in 14 years, 2013 - exclusive of those who in 1818 - 19 removed to the river Arkansaw, beyond the Mississippi. The population of these last, is supposed to be at present about 5000. So that the real increase on Cherokee population in 14 years, cannot fairly be estimated at less than six or seven thousand; which is half the original number. According to this ratio, the population would double once in 28 years; while the whole population of the United States is found to double once in 25 years. Of course the ratio of increase among the Cherokees, is scarcely less than that of the United States at large; and far greater than that of any country in Europe.
That the supports of population have, in spite of early habits and associations, gained a firm footing among the Cherokees, is evident from facts. The Superintendent of Indian Affairs in a letter to the Secretary of War, speaks of them as deserving to be ‘considered as civilized people.” And Mr Boudinot assures us, that at present there is not a family in the nation, which can be said to subsist upon the products of the wilderness. Numerous public roads are established, and houses of entertainment for the convenience of travelers. Agriculture and manufactures have succeeded to the chase, and are productive of important benefits to the nation. At present there are 10 saw mills, 31 grist mills, 62 blacksmith’s shops, 8 cotton-machines, 18 schools, 18 ferries, and a number of public roads.
In one district there were last winter more than one thousand good books; and eleven different periodical publications, either religious or political, were taken and read. Most of the schools are under care of christian missionaries, whose labors have at all times been kindly received by the nation, and duly appreciated.
In various places the word of God is now regularly dispensed, both by missionaries and natives; and many have publicly professed their belief and interest in the merits of the great Redeemer.
We have before had occasion to speak of the alphabet of 86 letters, or characters, invented about two years since Mr George Guest, a native Cherokee, who could neither read nor speak the English language. This alphabet has already become very useful to the nation; as, whether from curiosity or principle, has been the means of bringing numbers acquainted with reading, who would otherwise in all probability, have died in ignorance of the art. Mr Boudinot states, that in the neighborhood of his own residence, within a circle of perhaps 10 miles, he does not recollect one male Cherokee, between the ages of 15 and 25, who is unacquainted with this new method of expressing his thoughts.
Viewed in connexion with Mr Guest’s invention, the translation of the New Testament in Cherokee, by Mr David Brown, assumes a high importance. It breaks down the barrier which has so long and so formidably opposed the religious instruction of adults; so that bright hopes may now be entertained of leading them also, as well as their children, to a knowledge of the truth.
The Cherokees have a well organized system of government among themselves, which takes cognisance of crimes and punishes offenders, while it secures to good citizens all the rights and privileges of Americans. As still further improvements, they are now taking measures for the establishment of a national Academy and a printing press. The latter it is designed shall prepare the way for the publication of an Indian Newspaper. When the influence of all these institutions shall be fully felt, can there be a doubt, that many a district peopled by the descendants of Englishmen, will be found inferior in point of civilization, - intellectual and moral worth – in all that ennobles and honors human nature - to this branch of the native family of America.