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FOUND TEXT: The Diary of Peter Pitchlynn A Man Between Nations: The Diary of PeterPitchlynn 1828 - 1837 FRANKLIN¿ Xs^trifS ST. LOUIS K -----------\ TENN IKJDlAKJ territory vp » DWlOHT MEMPHIS /ñ-------- MI?S' LlTTLi FT. 5Ml TEX. VICKSBUMl TREATY OT DOAK'5 STAND U S CESSION ///// CHOCTAW CESSION \VN^ TREATY OF 1825 -W-' TREATY OT DANCING RABBIT CRE-EK =^ RtMOVAL ROUTES-J> -^ -» EXPEDITION OF I82S ----------? -------T A Man Between Nations: The Diary of Peter Pitchlynn In the iconography of U.S. Government-Native American relations , no event besides the defeat of the Seventh Cavalry at Little Big Horn has achieved greater importance than the removal of the Five Civilized Tribes from their homelands in the South. Very early, the government lighted upon the idea of moving whole tribes to an area of the country that would not be occupied by whites—an area which at that time was thought to be a "Great American Desert." That event has come to symbolize the U.S. Government's dealings with American Indians. The Indian removal was not just the "Trail of Tears," an isolated act victimizing one tribe in the 1830s, but one of the most persistently followed government policies in U.S. history, covering dozens of tribes and lasting for almost a century. The motive for removing the Indians and concentrating them in one wilderness area varied from the humane hope of maintaining tribal integrity to the blatant desire to get as much Indian land as possible as cheaply as possible. Those who either propounded or cooperated with the idea included not just whites of dissimilar political persuasions but Indians as well, both fullblood and mixed blood, both established leaders and rebels. The removal is emblematic of the U.S. attitude and handling of the American Indians because it was, finally, a wholesale approach in which intimidation and thinly veiled bribery played an important role. The actual removal of tribes was characterized, over and over, by U.S. officials in the field, including Indian agents and military officials, generally doing their best in impossible situations, but being frustrated by an almost totally unresponsive government bureaucracy, leading to situations in which hundreds of people died. There are government reports, military communiqués, and descriptions by missionaries encompassing the period of the removal; however, the diary of the young Choctaw Peter Pitchlynn may be the only first-hand, on-the-scene account by a member of one of the tribes. The Choctaws, one of the largest and most civilized of the great Indian nations, were the first tribe to be removed en masse to the Indian Territory. Their experience would serve the government as the example to be followed for all subsequent removals. This diary is particularly interesting because it The Missouri Review · 55 directly relates the state of mind, interests, and concerns of a young Indian of prominent family concerning the removal from their homelands in the southeast. Pitchlynn, in fact, would later become for a time the Principal Chief of the Choctaw Tribe. Pitchlynn's diary is also valuable because the first part of it describes events preceding the removal, including an extended account of the surveying party to the Indian Territory in 1828, during which Pitchlynn pays very close attention to details of topography, game and natural resources. The sequence of events leading up to the removal, and the selling of the idea, are less well known than the dramatic Trail of Tears experience itself, but perhaps ultimately more important, because they provide insights into how and why this policy became realized. In the first part of the diary we follow the tour organized by the government for the purpose of encouraging the voluntary emigration of the wary Chickasaw and Choctaw and the belligerent Creeks. The Reverend Isaac McCoy, a well known Baptist missionary to the Potawatomi, was a leader of the expedition, but Captain George H. Kennerly of the United States army was in actual command. Lieutenant Washington Hood of the army was its topographer, and George P. Todson its physician (Todson had been cashiered from the army in 1826). All held their appointments from the Secretary of War. Isaac McCoy's History of Baptist Indian Missions (Washington and New York...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 53-92
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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