1819 - Tribal Migrations

 When tribal leaders surrendered their lands in the Northwest (Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota) and accepted permanent reservations in Missouri Territory, that region was already experiencing a now familiar American frontier metamorphosis - the move to statehood. The Cherokee and Choctaw treaties, which assigned vast tracts of land to these tribes in the Arkansas Territory - in exchange for their aboriginal homelands in Georgia, Alabama, Tennesee, and Mississippi, were already being settled by whites.

         Two streams of development were thus occurring in this region contemporaneously, and the national government was a party to both.  New territories were being created to accommodate pioneer-settler demands, and these same political entities were being prepared for admission to the Union.  This left the self-governing Indian nations to cope as independent nations within emerging states. 

    Whenever conflict arose between the interests of settlers and Indians, settlers triumphed.  These victories were due in large part to the fact that settlers were voters, while the Indians were not.

         Where the ballot box failed, settlers who were covetous of Indians lands resorted to tried and true tactics of terror and mayhem.  Bands of white men regularly terrorized Indian communities in western Missouri and Arkansas, deliberately making life so miserable that the Indians moved west voluntarily to escape the torments. 

Shamefully, neither the territorial governments, nor the federal governent, ever came to the Indian's aid, though certainly, the laws of the land, written by white men, supported their legal claims.  As the treaties, being the 'supreme law of the land,' generally stated, the Indian's lands were theirs for perpetuity.  Never once were the land terms of a treaty upheld and enforced by the federal government in the first fifty years of nationhood.

 Raiders burned Indian towns, raped Indian women, and butchered tribal livestock - all with impunity.  Local courts and friendly juries dismissed Indian claims altogether, yet, in the odd case where Indians resisted and drove the intruders back, the conflict was immediately branded an "Indian war," and federal troops were called in to put down the 'uprising.'