The Protestant Mission to the Oregon Territory II
Bill Long 7/28/06
The Decisive Article
Here follows the March 1, 1833 article from the Christian Advocate and Journal and Zion's Herald. It begins with a letter from Methodist mission supporter G.T. Disoway, then moves into the report of the William Walker, a member of the Wyandote (now it is spelled Wyandotte) tribe, and then concludes with Disoway's reflections. This is a long piece, and will take three essays to reprint. You should also know that it takes Disoway some time to "set the stage" for the visit of the Natives to St. Louis. Thus is explained references to Indian removal policies of the US Government, as well as to the Wyandote tribe.
March 1, 1833 Christian Advocate, P. 1., Disoway's Letter
"The plans to civilize the savage tribes of our country are among the most remarkable signs of the times. To meliorate the condition of the Indians, and to preserve them from gradual decline and extinction, the government of the U. States have proposed and already commenced removing them to the region westward of the Mississippi.--Here it is intended to establish them in a permanent residence. Some powerful nations of these aborigines, having accepted the proposal, have already emigrated to their new lands, and others are now preparing to follow them. Among those who still remain are the Wyandots, a tribe long distinguished as standing at the head of the great Indian family.
The earliest travellers in Canada first discovered this tribe while ascending the St. Lawrence, at Montreal. They were subsequently driven by the Iroquois, in one of those fierce internal wars that characterize the Indians of North America, to the northern shores of lake Huron. From this resting place also their relentless enemy literally hunted them until the remnant of this once powerful and proud tribe found a safe abode among the Sioux, who resided west of lake Superior. When the power of the Iroqouois was weakened by the French the Wyandots returned from the Sioux country, and settled near Michilimackinac. They finally took up their abode on the plains of Sandusky, in Ohio, where they continue to this day.
The Wyandots, amounting to five hundred, are the only Indians in Ohio who have determined to remain upon their lands. The Senecas, Shawnees, and Ottawas have all sold their Ohio possessions, and have either removed, or are on their way to the west of the Mississippi. A small band of about seventy Wyandots from the Big Spring have disposed of their reservation of 16,000 acres, but have not accepted the offered lands of the government in exchange. They will retire into Michigan, or Canada, after leaving some of their number at the main reservation of Upper Sandusky.
The wonderful effects of the Gospel among the Wyandots are well known. Providence has blessed in a most remarkable manner the labors of our missionaries for their conversion. Knowledge, civilization, and social comforts have followed the introduction of Christianity into their regions. To all of the Indians residing within the jurisdiction of the states or territories the United States propose to purchase their present possessions and improvements, and in return to pay them acre for acre with lands west of the Mississippi river. Among the inducements to make this exchange are the following: perpetuity in their new abodes, as the faith of the government is pledged never to sanction another removal; the organization of a territorial government for their use like those in Florida, Arkansas, and Michigan, and the privilege to send delegates to congress, as is now enjoyed by the other territories. Could the remaining tribes of the original possessors of this country place implicit reliance upon these assurances and prospects, this scheme to meliorate their condition, and to bring them within the pale of civilized life, might safely be pronounced great, humane, and rational.
The Wyandots, after urgent and often repeated solicitations of the government for their removal, wisely resolved to send agents to explore the region offered them in exchange, before they made any decision upon the proposal. In November last the party started on the exploring expedition, and visited their proposed residence. This was a tract of country containing about 200,000 acres, and situated between the western part of Missouri and the Missouri river. The location was found to be one altogether unsuitable to the views, the necessities, and the support of the nation. They consequently declined the exchange.
Since their return, one of the exploring party, Mr. Wm. Walker, an interpreter, and himself a member of the nation, has sent me a communication. As it contains some valuable facts of a region from which we seldom hear, the letter is now offered for publication."
Conclusion--the Walker Letter
Now that Disoway has explained the "context" for the Walker letter, we are ready to hear about the meeting which this Wyandotte interpreter had with General Clark. We now know not only why Walker was in St. Louis but we are brought into the world of the early 1830s and the national policy regarding "Indian Removal." Thus, I could see how this document could be useful in discussing several subjects in 19th century American history.
Copyright © 2004-2009 William R. Long