Laws of the Cherokee Nation
Selections from the Laws of the Cherokee Nation
Source: Laws of the Cherokee Nation, from a facsimile of the 1852 edition, produced by Legal Classics Library, a Division of Gryphon Editions, of New York, New York.
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- Whereas, it appears in the prints of the public newspapers that in consequence of the earnest solicitations of the Governor and Legislature of the State of Georgia, the Congress of the United States did appropriate a sum of money last session with a view of holding a treaty with the Cherokees for the purpose of extinguishing their title to lands within the chartered limits, claimed by the State of Georgia, and it also appearing in the public prints that the President of the United States has appointed Commissioners in conformity to the views of said appropriation, and anticipating a call by the Commissioners, the head Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation requested the Judges to ascertain the sentiments and disposition of the citizens of their respective Districts on the subject, and to report the same to them, which reports having been accordingly made and now laid before the National Committee and Council, declaring, unanimously, with one voice and determination, to hold no treaties with any Commissioners of the United States to make any cession of lands, being resolved not to dispose even one foot of ground.
BE IT THEREFORE KNOWN AND REMEMBERED, That we, the undersigned members of the National Committee and Council, after maturely deliberating on the subject,
Resolved by the National Committee and Members of the Council, That the Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, will not meet any Commissioners of the United States to hold a treaty with them on the subject of making cession of lands the property of the Cherokee Nation, as we are determined hereafter never to make any cessions of lands, having not more than sufficient for our Nation and posterity. But on any other business not relating to making a treaty of cession, we will at all times during the session of the National Council, at New Town, receive the United States' Commissioners or Agents with friendship and cordiality, and will ever keep bright the chain of peace and friendship which links the Cherokee Nation and the government of the United States.
October 23d, 1822.
- For the better security of the common property of the Cherokee Nation, and for the protection of the rights and privileges of the Cherokee people, We, the undersigned members of the Committee and Council, in legislative Council convened, have established, and by these presents do hereby declare, the following articles as a fixed and irrevocable principle, by which the Cherokee Nation shall be governed....
ART. 1st. The lands within the sovereign limits of the Cherokee Nation, as defined by treaties, are, and shall be, the common property of the Nation. The improvements made thereon and in the possession of the citizens of the Nation, are the exclusive and indefeasible property of the citizens respectively who made, or may rightfully be in possession of them.
ART. 3d. The legislative Council of the Nation shall alone possess the legal power to manage and dispose of, in any manner by law the public property of the Nation, Provided, nothing shall be construed in this article, so as to extend that right and power to dispossess or divest the citizens of the Nation of their just rights to the houses, farms and other improvements in their possession.
ART. 4th. The Principal Chiefs of the Nation shall in no wise hold any treaties, or dispose of public property in any manner, without the express authority of the legislative Council in session.
ART. 6th. The citizens of the Nation, possessing exclusive and indefeasible right to their respective improvements, as expressed in the first article, shall possess no right or power to dispose of their improvements to citizens of the United States, under such penalties, as may be prescribed by law in such cases.
ART. 7th. The several courts of justice in the Nation shall have no cognizance of any case transpiring previous to the organization of courts by law, and which case may have been acted upon by the chiefs in council, under the then existing custom and usage of the Nation, excepting there may be an express law embracing the case.
ART. 8th. The two Principle Chiefs of the Nation, shall not, jointly or separately, have the power of arresting the judgments of either of the courts or of the legal acts of the National Committee and Council, but that the judiciary of the Nation shall be independent and their decisions final and conclusive; Provided, always, That they act in conformity to the foregoing principles or articles, and the acknowledged laws of the Nation.
June 15, 1825.
- Whereas, the General Council of the Cherokee Nation, now in session, having taken into consideration the subject of adopting a Constitution for the future Government of said Nation, and after mature deliberation, it is deemed expedient that a Convention be called, and in order that the wishes of the people of the several Districts may be fairly represented on this all important subject,....
Be it further resolved, That the principles which shall be established in the Constitution, to be adopted by the convention, shall not in any degree go to destroy the rights and liberties of the free citizens of this Nation, not to effect or impair the fundamental principles and laws, by which the Nation is now governed, and that the General Council to be convened in the fall of 1827 shall be held under the present existing authorities;....
October 13, 1826.
- CONSTITUTION OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, formed by a Convention of Delegates from the several districts, at New Echota, July, 1827
WE, THE REPRESENTATIVES of the people of the Cherokee Nation, in Convention assembled, in order to establish justice, ensure tranquility, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty; acknowledging with humility and gratitude the goodness of the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, in offering us an opportunity so favorable to the design, and imploring His aid and direction in its accomplishment, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Government of the Cherokee Nation.
Sec. 2 -- ... and the lands therein are, and shall remain, the common property of the Nation; but the improvements made thereon, and in the possession of the citizens of the Nation, are the exclusive and indefeasible property of the citizens respectively who made; or may rightfully be in possession of them; Provided, that the citizens of the Nation, possessing exclusive and indefeasible right to their respective improvements, as expressed in this article, shall possess no right nor power to dispose of their improvements in any manner whatsoever to the United States, individual states, nor individual citizens thereof; and that whenever any such citizen or citizens shall remove with their effects out of the limits of this Nation, and become citizens of any other Government, all their rights and privileges as citizens of this Nation shall cease; Provided, nevertheless, That the Legislature shall have power to re-admit by law to all the rights of citizenship, any such person or persons, who may at any time desire to return to the Nation on their memorializing the General Council for such readmission. Moreover, the Legislature shall have power to adopt such laws and regulations, as its wisdom may deem expedient and proper, to prevent the citizens from monopolizing improvements with the view to speculation.
Sec. 1 -- The power of this Government shall be divided into three distinct departments; the Legislative, the Executive, and Judicial.
Sec. 2 -- No person or persons belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in the cases hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.
Sec. 4 -- No person shall be eligible to a seat in the General Council, but a free Cherokee male citizen, who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years. The descendants of Cherokee men by all free women, except the African race, whose parents may have been living together as man and wife, according to the customs and laws of this Nation, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of this Nation, as well as the posterity of Cherokee women by all free men. No person who is of negro or mulatto parentage, either by the father or mother side, shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor or trust under this Government.
Sec. 6 -- In all elections by the people, the electors shall vote viva voce.
Sec. 15 -- The General Council shall have power to make all laws and regulations, which they shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, which shall not be contrary to this Constitution.
Sec. 18 -- No retrospective law, nor any law impairing the obligations of contracts shall be passed.
Sec. 14 -- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right of being heard, of demanding the nature and cause of the accusation against him, of meeting the witnesses face to face, of having compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor: and in prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the vicinage; nor shall he be compelled to give evidence against himself.
Sec. 15 -- The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable seizures and searches, and no warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things, shall be issued without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without good cause, supported by oath, or affirmation....
Sec. 2 -- No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishment, shall hold any office in the civil department of this Nation.
Sec. 3 -- The free exercise of religious worship, and serving God without distinction shall forever be allowed within this Nation; Provided, That this liberty of conscience shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this Nation.
Sec. 8 -- No person shall for the same offence be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall any person's property be taken or applied to public use without his consent; Provided, That nothing in this clause shall be so construed as to impair the right and power of the General Council to lay and collect taxes. All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him in his property, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law.
Sec. 9 -- The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
Sec. 10 -- Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this Nation.
- Whereas, in order to testify to the talented author of a series of essays publishing in the National Intelligencer at Washington city, over the signature of William Penn, and to the world, the respect and gratitude of the Cherokee people for the able exposition and defence of their rights as secured and recognized by subsisting treaties with the United States; and in order to ensure a more extensive circulation of the same, and afford to the citizens of this Nation the means of becoming more clearly acquainted with the relationship they sustain to the General Government, and the sure basis upon which they now stand upon the soil of their ancestors, as have been so explicitly demonstrated by the voluntary services of this able advocate in the cause of suffering humanity, therefore,
Resolved by the Committee and Council, in General Council Convened, That the Editor of the Cherokee Phoenix be, and he is hereby requested to publish in pamphlet form two thousand copies of the series of essays now publishing in the National Intelligencer, over the signature of William Penn, on the "Present crisis in the condition of the American Indians,"....
October 27, 1829
- Whereas, a law has been in existence for many years, but not committed to writing, that if any citizen or citizens of this Nation shall treat and dispose of any lands belonging to this Nation without special permission from the National Authorities, he or they, shall suffer death, therefore,
Resolved by the Committee and Council, in General Council Convened, That any person or persons who shall, contrary to the will and consent of the Legislative Council or this Nation, in General Council convened, enter into a treaty with any Commissioner or Commissioners of the U. States, or any officers instructed for the purpose, and agree to sell or dispose of any part or portion of the National lands defined in the Constitution of this Nation, he or they so offending, upon conviction, before any of the Circuit Judges of the Supreme Court, shall suffer death; ....
October 26, 1829
- Whereas, It has long been an established custom in this Nation and admitted by the courts as law, yet never committed to writing, that the property of Cherokee women after their marriage cannot be disposed of by their husbands, or levied upon by an officer to satisfy a debt of the husband's contracting, contrary to her will and consent, and disposable only at her option -- therefore,
Resolved by the National Committee and Council, in General Council Convened, That the property of Cherokee, and other women, citizens of this Nation, after their marriage shall not be taken or disposed of in any manner contrary to her consent, for the purpose of satisfying a debt contracted by her husband, nor shall the property of the husband be liable to seizure, or otherwise to satisfy the debts contracted by the wife.
November 2d, 1829
- ACT OF UNION BETWEEN THE EASTERN AND WESTERN CHEROKEES
WHEREAS, our Fathers have existed, as a separate and distinct Nation, in the possession and exercise of the essential and appropriate attributes of sovereignty, from a period extending into antiquity, beyond the records and memory of man: AND WHEREAS these attributes, with the rights and franchises which they involve, remain still in full force and virtue, as do also the national and social relations of the Cherokee people to each other and to the body politic, excepting in those particulars which have grown out of the provisions of the treaties of 1817 and 1819 between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, under which a portion of our people removed to this country and became a separate community: But the force of circumstances having recently compelled the body of the Eastern Cherokee to remove to this country, thus bringing together again the two branches of the ancient Cherokee family, it has become essential to the general welfare that a union should be formed, and a system of government matured, adapted to their present condition, and providing equally for the protection of each individual in the enjoyment of his rights:
Therefore we, the people composing the Eastern and Western Cherokee Nation, in National Convention assembled, by virtue of our original and unalienable rights, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree to form ourselves into one body politic, under the style and title of the Cherokee Nation.
In view of the union now formed, and for the purpose of making satisfactory adjustments of all unsettled business which may have arisen before the consummation of this union, we agree that such business shall be settled according to the provisions of the respective laws under which it originated, and the Courts of the Cherokee Nation shall be governed in their decisions accordingly. Also, that the delegation authorized by the Eastern Cherokee to make arrangements with Major General Scott for their removal to this country shall continue in charge of that business, with their present powers, until it shall be finally closed. And also that all rights and title to public Cherokee lands on the east or west of the river Mississippi, with all other public interests which may have vested in either branch of the Cherokee family, whether inherited from our Fathers or derived from any other source, shall henceforward vest entire and unimpaired in the Cherokee Nation, as constituted by this union.
July 12, 1839
- CONSTITUTION OF THE CHEROKEE NATION
The Eastern and Western Cherokee having again re-united, and become one body politic, under the style and title of the Cherokee Nation: Therefore,
We, the people of the Cherokee Nation, in National Convention assembled, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, promote the common welfare, and to secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of freedom -- acknowledging, with humility and gratitude, the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in permitting us so to do, and imploring His aid and guidance in its accomplishment -- do ordain and establish this Constitution for the government of the Cherokee Nation.
SEC. 2. The lands of the Cherokee Nation shall remain common property; but the improvements made thereon, and in the possession of the citizens of the Nation, are the exclusive and indefeasible property of the citizens respectively who made, or may rightfully be in possession of them: Provided, That the citizens of the Nation possessing exclusive and indefeasible right to their improvements, as expressed in this article, shall possess no right or power to dispose of their improvements, in any manner whatever, to the United States, individual States, or to individual citizens thereof; and that, whenever any citizen shall remove with his effects out of the limits of this Nation, and become a citizen of any other Government, all his rights and privileges as a citizen of this Nation shall cease: Provided, nevertheless, That the National Council shall have the power to re-admit, by law, to all the rights of citizenship, any such person or persons who may, at any time, desire to return to the Nation, on memorializing the National Council for such readmission.
Moreover, the National Council shall have power to adopt such laws and regulations as its wisdom may deem expedient and proper to prevent citizens from monopolizing improvements with the view of speculation.
SEC. 1. The power of this Government shall be divided into three distinct departments -- the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial.
SEC. 2. No person or persons belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to either of the others, except in the cases hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.
SEC. 5. No person shall be eligible to a seat in the National Council but a free Cherokee male citizen who shall have attained to the age of twenty-five years.
The descendants of Cherokee men by all free women except the African race, whose parents may have been living together as man and wife, according to the customs and laws of this Nation, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of this Nation, as well as the posterity of Cherokee women by all free men. No person who is of negro or mulatto parentage, either by the father or mother's side, shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor, or trust under this Government.
SEC. 7. In all elections by the people, the electors shall vote viva voce.
All free male citizens, who shall have attained to the age of eighteen years shall be equally entitled to vote at all public elections.
SEC. 14. The National Council shall have power to make all laws and regulations which they shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, which shall not be contrary to this Constitution.
SEC. 17. No retrospective law, nor any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be passed.
SEC. 18. The National Council shall have power to make laws for laying and collecting taxes, for the purpose of raising a revenue.
SEC. 1. The Judicial powers shall be vested in a Supreme Court, and such Circuit and inferior Courts as the National Council may, from time to time, ordain and establish.
SEC. 11. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right of being heard; of demanding the nature and cause of the accusation; of meeting the witnesses face to face; of having compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his or their favor; and in prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury of the vicinage; nor shall the accused be compelled to give evidence against himself.
SEC. 12. The people shall be secure in their person, houses, papers, possessions, from unreasonable seizures and searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or things, shall issue without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without good cause supported by oath or affirmation.
SEC. 1. No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of reward and punishment, shall hold any office in the civil department of this Nation.
SEC. 2. The free exercise of religious worship, and serving God without distinction, shall, forever, be enjoyed within the limits of this Nation: provided, that this liberty of conscience shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this Nation.
SEC. 3. ... On all matters of interest, touching the rights of the citizens of this Nation, which may require the attention of the United States Government, the Principal Chief shall keep up a friendly correspondence with that Government, through the medium of its proper officers.
SEC. 6. No person shall for the same offence be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall the property of any person be taken and applied to public use without a just and fair compensation: Provided, That nothing in this clause shall be so construed as to impair the right and power of the National Council to lay and collect taxes.
SEC. 7. The right of trial by jury, shall remain inviolate, and every person, for injury sustained in person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law.
SEC. 9. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this Nation.
Done in Convention at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, this sixth day of September, 1839.
- An Act establishing the Judiciary.
SEC. 3. ... Nine persons shall constitute a jury in any of the Courts for the trial of all civil suits, and any six of whom may render a verdict; but in all criminal cases there shall be twenty-four persons summoned, and the criminal, in open court, may challenge or object, if he chooses, to one-half of this number as the Clerk shall call their names. The remaining twelve shall form a jury for the trial of any criminal accusation, and be qualified for that special case, and no verdict shall be rendered but by the unanimous assent of the whole; and in case of disagreement, and the court being satisfied that such particular jury cannot agree, they shall be discharged from further consideration of such case, and another jury summoned in their stead for the trial of that case.
In charging the jury, in all cases, the judge shall state the testimony and the law.
September 23d, 1839.
- An Act authorizing the Arbitration of Cases.
Be it enacted by the National Council, That it shall be lawful for parties to settle and adjust any dispute or controversy by arbitration....
September 26, 1839.
- An Act prohibiting the carrying of Weapons.
Be it enacted by the National Council, That it shall not be lawful for any person or persons, citizens of this Nation, or others, to carry secret arms, such as Bowie-knives, spears, dirks or pistols of any kind, under the penalty of being subject to pay a fine....
October 21, 1841.
- An Act prohibiting the Teaching of Negroes to Read and Write.
Be it enacted by the National Council, That from and after the passage of this act, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons whatever, to teach any free negro or negroes not of Cherokee blood, or any slave belonging to any citizen or citizens of the Nation, to read or write.
October 22, 1841.
- An Act to authorize to General Convention of Neighboring Tribes of Indians.
WHEREAS, it appears necessary for the mutual peace and happiness of the several Tribes living contiguous to each other, and from their advancing state of civilization and continual intercourse among each other, that some plan be devised, and regulations adopted, for their good understanding, and securing mutual happiness among each other,
Be it therefore enacted by the National Council That the Principal Chief be, and he is hereby authorized to appoint two suitable persons from each District, as a Delegation on the part of the Cherokee Nation to confer with such delegate as may be appointed by the Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Osages, and such other Tribes as may deem it expedient, for the purpose of coming to some definite understanding for the adjudication of all unsettled business that may exist, and to enter into such international laws and regulations as may be deemed necessary for the welfare and prosperity of the respective tribes.
December 1st, 1842.
- Compact between the several Tribes of Indians.
WHEREAS, the removal of the Indian Tribes, from the homes of their fathers, east of the Mississippi, has there extinguished our ancient Council Fires, and changed our positions in regard to each other, and
WHEREAS, by the solemn pledge of Treaties, we are assured by the Government of the United States, that the lands we now possess shall be the undisturbed home of ourselves and our posterity forever, therefore,
We, the authorized representatives of the several Nations, parties hereunto, assembled round the Great Council Fire, kindled in the West at Tahlequah; in order to preserve the existence of our race, to revive and cultivate just and friendly relations between our several communities, to secure to all their respective rights, and to promote the general welfare, do enter into the following compact
SEC. 1st. Peace and friendship shall forever be maintained between the Nations, parties to this compact, and between their respect citizens:
SEC. 2d. Revenge shall not be cherished nor retaliation practiced, for offences committed by individuals.
SEC. 3d. To provide for the improvement of our people in Agriculture, Manufactures, and other domestic arts, adapted to promote the comfort and happiness of our women and children a fixed and permanent location on our lands, is an indispensable condition. In order therefore, to secure these important objects, to prevent any future removal, and to transmit to our posterity an unimpaired title to the lands guaranteed to our respective Nations by the United States -- We hereby solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, that no Nation, party to this compact, shall, without the consent of all the other parties, cede, or in any manner alienate, to the United States, any part of their present Territory.
Done in the General Council, around the GREAT COUNCIL FIRE at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, this the 3d day of July, 1843.
- An Act admitting to the right of Citizenship certain Creek Indians.
WHEREAS, certain Creek Indians, with their families, emigrated from the east of the Mississippi river, in the several detachments of Cherokees that removed in 1838, and arrived in 1839: And
WHEREAS, the said Creek Indians having been received by the Cherokees into their Nation East, under their customs and agreement then existing between them and the Creek Nation, and thereby becoming a part of the Cherokee people, and subject to the Cherokee laws, therefore, in order, to remove all doubts as to their right to live and enjoy the privileges of citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.
SEC. 1st. Be it enacted by the National Council, That all the Creek Indians who emigrated to this country in the several detachments of Cherokees, as aforesaid, be, and they are hereby recognized and admitted to the enjoyment of the rights and privileges of citizenship of this Nation.
Tahlequah, November 13th, 1843.
- An Act authorizing the National Treasurer to receive and receipt to the Principal Chief for $125,000.
WHEREAS, The Principal Chief has submitted to the National Council a communication stating that he is now ready to turn over to the Nation the sum of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, savings that have been made out of the arrangements with Maj. Gen. Scott, for the removal of the Eastern Cherokee under his superintendency, by the employment of public waggons and teams, their sale, &c., therefore
Tahlequah, Jan. 8th, 1844.
- An Act declarative of the rights of the Cherokee Nation, and authorizing the appointment of a Delegation.
Whereas, The original and inalienable rights of the Cherokee people, "as a separate and distinct Nation," are not of recent origin, but have, in their essential elements, been enjoyed and exercised by our fathers, "from a period extending into antiquity, beyond the records and memory of man;"
And, whereas, The present organization of the National Government was established by the rightful, and unconstrained assertion of the people's will, in the adoption of the Act of Union, between the Eastern and Western Cherokees;
And whereas, This Act of Union, and the Constitution based upon it, were confirmed and regulated in various forms, in the presence of the officers of the United States, and so reported to their Government;
And whereas, By the adoption of the said Act of Union, the distinction of "Old Settlor" and "Emigrant," ceased and was done away; and "all right and title to public Cherokee land, on the east or west of the river Mississippi, with all other public interests, which may have vested in either branch of the Cherokee family, whether inherited from our fathers, or derived from any other source," was vested, "entire and unimpaired, in the Cherokee Nation," as constituted by that "Union;"
And whereas, The Cherokee Nation, thus constituted, has disbursed large sums of money, in payment of claims, originating under the laws of the Western Cherokees or "Old Settlers," without the slightest distinction being made between them and those who had been called Eastern Cherokees;
And whereas, In all departments of the Government, offices have been filled by citizens formerly belonging to every class, justice has been administered and protection afforded to all; equally and without distinction;
And whereas, We deeply regret, that, in giving countenance to John Rogers and others, whose aim is, to form a conspiracy against the Government and integrity of the Nation; the Hon. Secretary of War should have evinced sentiments so greatly at variance with those of the President, and with the relations, actually subsisting, between the Cherokee Nation and the United States. And especially, do we regret, that in opposition to the forcible and conclusive remonstrance of the Delegation, the Hon. Secretary should have appointed a commission to make enquiries in this country, under instructions inconsistent with our National rights, and dangerous to our liberties; and the direct tendency of which is to create factions, and to disturb the tranquility of the community;
Be it therefore enacted by the National Council, That a Delegation be appointed, to proceed immediately, to Washington, and by every means in their power, to maintain the rights of the Cherokee Nation, and to press upon the attention of the United States Government, the claims of the Cherokee people, both National and individual.
Tahlequah, December 18th, 1844.
- Whereas, There are unsettled questions and points of interest which have been long pending between the Government of the United States and the Cherokee people;
And whereas, The rights and claims of the Cherokees, involved in those questions, have been fully and candidly recognized by the President of the United States, in his letter of September 20th, 1841, and his views and feelings, in regard to the redress for which they ask ingenuously and unreservedly expressed, we cannot withdraw the confidence which we have reposed in the promises there conveyed to us; which assure us that a deaf ear has not been turned to our petitions and that "much attention has been given to the weighty and important subjects, 'which we had urged,' adding, 'if all the subjects presented by you on the part of your people have not been fully considered and decided, you will be able to satisfy them that it has been from no desire, on our part, to slight or neglect the wishes or interests of a Nation who have been for so many years, the steadfast friends of the U. States, and for whose rights and interests this Government feels the strongest concern.'"
"I have looked over the several treaties that have been made between the Cherokee Nation and the United States; and I find their promises of friendship on the one part, and of protection and guardian care on the other; and I now promise you again; and through you, your whole people, that the protection and care so promised shall be given." Having declared his purpose to negotiate a new treaty, the President proceeds, "you may assure your people that" -- "not justice merely shall be done them; but that a liberal and generous course of policy shall be adopted towards them. Upon the ratification of the treaty contemplated, which shall give full indemnity for all wrongs which they may have suffered; establish upon a permanent basis the political relations between them and the people of the U.S. -- guarantee their lands in absolute fee simple, and prescribe specific rules in reference to subjects of the most interesting character to them and their remotest posterity, a new sun will have dawned upon them in whose brightness their permanent happiness and true glory may be read by the whole world."
Tahlequah, January 13, 1845.
- WHEREAS, we learn with regret that the Commissioners appointed by the President, to investigate and adjudicate the claims of our citizens, on the Government of the U. States, have organized their board at Washington: and whereas, at such a distance from the residence of the witnesses, it will be impossible to prevent frauds from being practiced by dishonest men, while it will be difficult and expensive for just claimants to establish their rights -- and many among the poorer classes will doubtless be prevented from presenting their claims at all, therefore,
Resolved by the National Council, That a respectful communication be made to the President, calling his attention to the subject, and reiterating the arguments used by the late Delegation, in their communication on the subject.
Tahlequah, November 30th, 1846.
- WHEREAS, a communication has been received by the National Council from the Acting Chief, enclosing communications from the Cherokee Agent to him dated Sept. 16, 1848; also one from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to John Ross, Principal Chief, dated August 23, 1848, accompanied by an act of the last session of Congress appropriating five thousand dollars to enable the President of the United States to remove the Catawba Indians in North Carolina, among some of the tribes west of the Mississippi river, without expense to said United States; and whereas, the said Commissioner in the aforesaid communication has submitted the matter for the consideration of this Nation, whether the Cherokees would be willing to receive the Catawba Indians, and adopt them into their Nation as their home, without any other charge than that contained in the said act of Congress.
Be it therefore resolved by the National Council, That in the entire absence of all information respecting the numbers of said Catawba Indians and their circumstances, this Council cannot act upon the subject understandingly, definitely, and according to its intrinsic importance.
Be it further resolved, That the Principal Chief be, and he is hereby requested to communicate with the U.S. Agent, and through him with the government of the United States for statistical information of said Catawba Indians, their entire numbers, of those mixed with the whites and those of full blood -- number of mechanics, speaking the English language, amount of annuities owned by said tribe, and by whom paid -- lands held by them if any in right of the tribe in any state, and report the same to the next National Council for their information and final action.
Tahlaquah, October 17th, 1848.
- Resolutions directing the assembling of the Cherokee People in General Council.
Resolved by the National Council, That the Principal Chief be, and is hereby directed to issue his Proclamation and send out "Runners," inviting the whole Cherokee People to assemble in General Council, at Tahlaquah, on Wednesday, the 7th day of November next, for the purpose of taking into consideration the importance of providing means for the payment of the National debt.
Resolved further, That when the people shall have so assembled in general Council, the Principal Chief shall present, or cause to be presented to them, the amount of the National debt, and the annual receipts of the Treasury, subject to the payment of the same; also in what way, if any, money shall be provided for the payment of the debt; whether it shall be done by imposing a tax upon the Per Capita money due the Cherokee People by virtue of Treaties with the United States, or whether they will authorize the retrocession to the United States of the 800,000 acres of land, commonly called the Neutral Land, under proper restrictions, the investment of the principal, and the appropriation of the interest to the payment of the debt, until that shall have been done -- and then to the support of schools in the Cherokee Nation.
Tahlequah, October 18th, 1849.
- Resolutions instructing the Delegation.
WHEREAS, there remains unsettled business between the Government of the United States and the Cherokee people, which it is important to press to a speedy close; and whereas, it has been deemed expedient by the National Council, to appoint a Delegation ... to represent the interests of the Cherokee people before the said Government. Therefore,
Be it further resolved, That the said Delegation, be, and they are hereby particularly instructed, to urge to a speedy close, the settlement and payment of money due the emigrant and old settler Cherokees, under the treaty of 1846, also the payment of the School funds withheld from the Nation.
Be it further resolved, That the said Delegation are also instructed to urge upon the Government, the importance of having the Cherokee Agency located, in conformity with treaty stipulation, and the removal or discontinuance of the practice of licensing white traders to reside among the Cherokee people.
Tahlequah, November 20th, 1849.
- An Act to provide ways and means for the payment of the National Debt.
WHEREAS, the prosperity and fair fame of the Cherokee Nation demand the early payment of the outstanding debt which has so long repressed its energy and prospects, and
WHEREAS, the retrocession to the United States, of the eight hundred thousand acres of land commonly known or designated as the "Neutral Land" purchased under the treaty of 1835-6, presents the earliest, most expeditious, and most advantageous method of accomplishing this great object; therefore,
Be it enacted by the National Council, That the National Council, do hereby recommend to their constituents, the retrocession of said land to the United States.
Be it further enacted, That in case this recommendation meets the approval of the Cherokee people and is perfected, the sum obtained therefor, shall be invested in safe and productive State or United States stock, and the interest thereon shall be collected and applied semi-annually to the payment of the National Debt now outstanding against the Cherokee Nation, in the order in which it has been incurred, till the whole of said debt shall be paid.
Be it further enacted, That the Principal Chief do convene the Cherokee people in general Council at Tahlequah, the 20th day of November, 1851, for the purpose of submitting to them the foregoing act for their consideration and action.
Be it further enacted, That the Principal Chief be, and he is hereby requested to co-operate with the National Council, in bringing before the people when assembled, the amount of the National debt, and the importance of providing means for the payment of same. And also to make all necessary arrangements for the accommodation of the people while assembled in compliance of the foregoing act.
Tahlequah, 5th November, 1851.
Posted: to Legal History and Philosophy of Law on Tue, Jul 9, 2019
Updated: Tue, Jul 9, 2019