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
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.
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
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
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.'