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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863
([1863])

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [5]-40 PDF (14.2 MB)


Page 23

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.                     23 
day, and endeavored to draw with them all the other bands. These machina-
tions at length resulted in a battle, at which their former agent, with the
entire 
rebel band, were exterminated, with the single exception of one old woman
rescued by a Shawnee chief. 
The Cherokees, prior to the rebellion, were the most numerous, intelligent,
wealthy, and influential tribe of this superintendency. For many months they
steadily resisted the efforts made by the rebels to induce them to abandon
their 
allegiance to the federal government, but being wholly unprotected, and without
the means of resistance, they were finally compelled to enter into treaty
stipu- 
lations with the rebel authorities. This connexion was, however, of short
dura- 
tion, for upon the first appearance of United States forces in their country
an 
entire regiment of Indian troops, raised ostensibly for service in the rebel
army, 
deserted and came over to us, and- have ever since been under our command,
and upon all occasions have proven themselves faithful and efficient soldiers.
In February last the national council of the Cherokees was convened at Cow-
skin Prairie, and the following important bills were passed: 
1, Abrogating the treaty with the "Confederate States," and calling
a gen- 
eral convention of the people to approve the act. 
2. The appointment of a delegation, with suitable powers and instructions
to 
represent the Cherokee nation before the United States government, consisting
of John Ross, principal chief; Lieutenant Colonel Downing, Captain James
McDaniel, and Rev. Evan Jones. 
3. Authorizing a general Indian council, to be called at such time and place
as the principal chief may designate. 
4. Deposing all officers of the nation disloyal to the government. 
5. Approving the purchase of supplies made by the treasurer, and directing
their distribution. 
6. An act providing for the abolition of slavery in the Cherokee nation.
An official communication, informing me of these important acts on the part
of the Cherokee authorities, will be found among the accompanying papers.
Their importance, as affecting the status of the only part of the nation
whose 
rights have not been clearly forfeited by treason, will' be generally appreciated
when I mention the fact that for many years the Cherokees have had a regu-
larly organized government, a printed code of laws, and have conducted their
political affairs with a good degree of the order and system of civilized
commu- 
nities. 
Until the autumn of 1862 only about three hundred of the Cherokees, and Z'
they mostly women and children, had taken refuge in Kansas. In the early
part of that season from fifteen hundred to two thousand others, also in
the 
main women and children, and claiming our protection, made their way to a
point on the Cherokee neutral lands, about twelve miles south of Fort Scott,
Kansas. Like all the other refugees, they were almost entirely destitute
of all 
the necessaries of life, and required immediate assistance. Arrangements
were 
immediately made by Superintendent Coffin to provide for their wants during
the ensuing winter, so far as the limited means at his command would permit.
These arrangements were scarcely completed when, without consultation with


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