65. Report of the President of the Southern Treaty Commission. October 30, 1865
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96 65. Report of the President of the Southern Treaty Commission October 30, 1865 At the conclusion of the Civil War, the United States government sent to Fort Smith a special commission, headed by Commissioner of Indian Affairs Dennis N. Cooley, to deal with the Indian tribes of the Indian Territory, most of whom had actively supported the Confederacy. Cooley’s report indicates the terms that were proposed to the Indian delegates at Fort Smith. The Indians refused to accept the full terms, objecting especially to organization as a regular territory of the United States. Final treaties with the tribes were not signed until the following year. Sir: As president of the commission designated by the President to negotiate, under your instructions, “a treaty or treaties with all or any of the nations, tribes, or bands of Indians now located in the Indian country or in the State of Kansas, and also with the Indians of the plains west of Kansas and the said Indian country,” I have the honor to submit the following: . . . . The council was called to order by me, as president of the commission; after which the blessing of the Great Spirit over our deliberations was invoked by Rev. Lewis Downing, acting chief of the Cherokee nation. When Mr. Downing had concluded, I addressed the council as follows: Brothers: It is proper that thanks should be returned to the Great Spirit, the creator of us all, that our lives have been preserved to meet upon this occasion. This, as you saw, has been done in our style of addressing the Great Spirit. We have thanked Him for His goodness in keeping us in good health, and for putting it into your minds to meet us at this time. We trust that His wisdom may guide us all in the deliberations on every question that may come before us. We are glad to meet so many of our brothers in council, and pray the Great Spirit to keep you all in health, and to preserve your wives and children during your absence, and return us all safely to our homes when our council shall terminate. Brothers: You will listen further: your Great Father the President, hearing that the Indians in the southwest desired to meet commissioners sent by him, in council, to renew their allegiance to the United States, and to settle difficulties among themselves which have arisen in consequence of a portion of the several tribes uniting with wicked white men who have engaged in war, has sent the commissioners now before you to hear and consider any matter which you may desire to lay before us, and to make a treaty of peace and amity with all his red children who may desire his favor and protection. Portions of several tribes and nations have attempted to throw off their allegiance to the United States, and have made treaty stipulations with the enemies of the government, and have been in open war with those who remained loyal and true, and at war with the United States. All such have rightfully forfeited all annuities and interests in the lands in the Indian territory; but with the return of peace, after subduing and punishing severely in battle those who caused the rebellion , the President is willing to hear his erring children in extenuation of their great crime. He has authorized us to make new treaties with such nations and tribes as are willing to be at peace among themselves and with the United States. The President has been deeply pained by the course of those who have violated their plighted faith and treaty obligations by engaging in war with those in rebellion against the United States. He directs us to say to those who remain true, and who have aided him in punishing the rebels, he is well pleased with you, and your rights and interests will be protected by the United States. The President directs us to express to you the hope that your dissensions may soon all be healed, and your people soon again united, prosperous, and happy. We are now ready to hear anything you may wish to say in reply. The response and explanations of the different nations and tribes will be found in the proceedings of the council, hereto appended. 97 On the second day, (Saturday, September 9,) after council met, I addressed the Indians, in which I stated that the commissioners had considered the talks of the Indians on the proceding day...


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