|Talk of the Florida Delegation of Indians delivered by
To James Burbour, Secretary of War
May 17, 1826
Niles Weekly Register, Volume 30
Brother: We have heard the talk you sent us by our agent. You say our great father gives us permission to occupy the
land we as for, (the Big Swamp), until he may want to send us from it. This does not please us. The land we occupy we
expect will be considered our own property, to remain as such forever, unless we may think proper to part with it. If this is
refused us, we cannot be happy; for we do not like the thoughts of being put to the trouble of moving again. The
hardship we suffered from our first removal gave us pain enough -- we do not wish to feel it again; and we have such
confidence in the justice of our great father, that we do not believe he will force it upon us, but will comply with our
demands, and give us more land. This was promised us by the treaty at St. Augustine. We only ask that this promise
should be complied with. -- It is necessary to make us comfortable. The tract of land embraced within the present limits
of our territory, is small and very poor. We cannot live on it. Many have been obliged to settle in the Big Swamp, where
some good land has been found. --- Give that to us also. (See Duval report) We shall then be able to make bread for
our wives and children, and shall be satisfied. When we left the good land about Tallahassee and Mickasuky, which is
now covered by the white skins, we stopped at the Big Swamp, because we knew we could not live further south, and
because we were told by gov. Duval that we might do so, and that we should have the land. We now claim the fulfilment
of his promise, and of that in the treaty. We were often deceived by the Spaniards. They made promises which they
never kept. But we are told the Americans are a straight people. We believed it -- we hope we shall never have cause to
change our minds.
You say our great father sent help to our people, we have been hungry because they could make no corn last year. We
feel thankful for this, and will never forget it.
You tell us, at the same time, that our great father says we must, in future, rely upon ourselves, and by our industry
provide for our own support. We do not complain of this; but we expect he will not deny us such lands as will enable us
to do so.-- You say, too, our great father does not wish to oppress his red children. We believe it, and that he will keep
the treaty, and give us more land. We ask that the north line of our territory may be removed so as to embrace a small
Swamp, called Wetooxy. This will enable us to live, and make us contented.
Brother: You tell us that our great father owns a great county over the Big River towards the setting sun, and that he is
willing to give us a part of it if we will go there, and he advises us to send some of our chiefs, with the Muscugees, when
they go, to look at it, and bring us back word what sort of country it is. We have already said we do not intend to move
again. If the Muscogees have a disposition to go further towards the setting sun, we are perfectly willing they should go,
but we will not go with them. We have no friends there --- the people of that country are strangers to us. The Muscogees
invited us to go with them; but it was only to make their party stronger. We will not involve ourselves in the troubles of
the Muscogees. We are a separate people, and have nothing to do with them.
We came, brother, not to see the Muscogees, but to hold a talk with our great father on our own affairs, and to claim of
him more land in our own country. Most of us were born on the land we now inhabit, and that we claim to be surrendered
to us--her our navel strings were first cut, and the blood from them sunk into the earth, and made the country dear to
us. We have heard that the Spaniards sold this country to the Americans. This they had no right to do: The land was not
theres, but belonged to the Seminoles. Brother, we have come here, where we should find Spanish, English, French and
Americans to talk with our great father about this matter, and have it put right. We have not yet seen our great father.
We have come many days travel to see him, and do not wish to return without shaking hands with him.
You tell us, brother, that our great father has heard that we have runaway slaves in our country, and that many of our
people hide them from their owners. It is true, that some slaves, who runaway from the whites, have come into our
country; most of them, however, were given up before we left home, and we think that, by this time, the rest of them are
with their owners. We left orders with some of our chiefs, to have them taken and brought to the agency. We do not like
the story, that our people hide the runaway negroes from their masters. It is not a true talk; our people have not done
this. We do not consider ourselves bound by the treaty, to take up any runaway slaves, but those who have entered our
country since the making of the treaty. But we have never prevented the whites from coming into our country and taking
their slaves wherever they could find them, and we will not hereafter oppose their doing so, but will give them all the
assistance we can.
Brother, we are glad to hear that our negroes, held by the whites, are to be claimed for us. This is right, and we hope
that our great father will put it in the power of our agent to see justice done in this matter. We do not know if the white
people will mind his talks when he demands our property; for they are not always willing to do right, when they can avoid
it. The laws of our nation are strong, and oblige a man, having the property of another in his possession, to give it us to
the right owner. The laws of the whites, who have so much better sense than the red men, ought not to be less powerful
Brother, you say that some of our young men are not always good, and that they go among the whites, and kill their
stock. A few of them, we know, have done this, and we have punished them for it; and we have lately made such laws as
we think will prevent their doing so any more. It is not our wish to disturb our white neighbors, but to live in friendship with
Brother: You tell us that our great father wishes to place a school in our nation, to teach our children, to read and write.
We do not believe the Great Spirit intended we should know how to read and write; for if he had intended this, he would
have given us the knowledge as early as he gave it to the white people. Now it is too late; the white people have gained
an advantage we can never recover, and it is better for us to remain as we are, red men, and live in our own way.
Brother, among our people it is thought that, at the time when there were but two kinds of people, the red and the white,
on the earth, a book was placed, by the Great Spirit, in the hands of an old man, blind, and with a long beard, who told
the red and the white man that he who killed the first deer should receive the book as his reward, and be learnt to read
it. Both wen out to hunt, different ways. The white man, after going a little way, found a sheep, which being not so wild as
the deer, he easily killed. He took this sheep to the blind man, and told him it was a deer. The old man believed him, and
gave him the book, and learnt him how to read it. The red man soon after brought in a deer; but he was too late--the
white man had got the book. If this cheat had not been practised, the red man would have been now as the white man is,
and he as the red man. Brother, if the Great Spirit had intended that the red men should know how to read, he would not
have allowed the white man to take this advantage of us.
Brother: The business we have come here upon, is very important to our nation. We wish to have it settled soon, that we
may return to our homes and make the hearts of our people glad, by telling them what we have done.
Brother: we send you this talk and take the hand you offer us, and will hold it till we get your answer.
Tukasee Mathla, or Hicks, head chief, his x mark.
Mico Nopy, his X mark.
Holata Mico his x mark.
Tuloee Mathla, his x mark
Fokee Lustee Hajo, his x mark.
Nea Mathla, his x mark.
Itcha Tustenucgy, his x mark.
G. Humphreys, agent.
Washington, May 17, 1826.
Subsequent to this talk, the delegation was introduced to the president of the United States; who received them with so
much cordiality, and evinced such a desire to promote their real interests, that the chiefs, after this interview, expressed
themselves in the warmest terms of satisfaction and confidence.
lithograph from the McKenney-Hall
History of the Indian tribes of
North America (1858), after an 1825
painting from life by Charles Bird
published by Daniel Rice & James G. Clark, 1843.
Created by: McKenney & Hall.
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