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Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek,

(also known as the Treaty of 1830

By the year 1829, the original two million acres in the Natchez district open to settlement, had been enlarged to include about half the area of the State, through purchase by the United States government from the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes. There was not a rapid demand for the lands already opened. Only about one-third of the Choctaw purchase of 1820, which embraced Hinds county and the main portion of the Yazoo delta, had been disposed of either to settlers or speculators. Nevertheless there was a tremendous pressure by speculators for more lands, and the people generally were easily persuaded that it was time for the Indians to move. In his message of 1829 Governor Brandon declared that the prosperity of the State was greatly retarded by such a large portion of fertile lands remaining in the possession of "savage tribes of Indians, who, as they progress in civilization, become attached to the soil and cannot be induced to remove by the policy heretofore used of treating them as a sovereign people, and will, eventually set up for themselves a government, professing to be an independent sovereignty within our limits, in defiance of the authority of the state. These things cannot be tolerated, consistent with our best interest, honor of the government, led to the act of the legislature, 1829, extending the jurisdiction of the justices and courts of certain adjoining counties over all the Indian territory.

Trouble was feared on this account, but the governor was able to report a year later that "the acknowledgment on the part of the general government, of the right of the States to exercise an unlimited sovereignty over all territory within their chartered limits, is a source of much gratifications, and at once puts to rest the question which portended great difficulty between many of the states, our own amongst the number, and their INdian population." He suggested that the legislature, if it assumed sovereignty, must also take care to pass laws for the government and protection of the Indians; but that would be very difficult.

The authority of their chiefs must first be annulled, and this would be improper until some provision was made for other officers. And the governor frankly added, "The extension of the laws of the state to the Indians will be received by them with feelings of jealousy and distrust, from the view that such a measure was adopted with a view to harass and thereby coerce them to remove."

The legislature responded with the act of February, 1830, that proposed to abolish all the Indian laws and customs and extend over them the law of Mississippi, and prohibited any person from assuming the office of chief or mingo, under penalty of heavy fine and imprisonment. These laws were not seriously enforced. At the request of the United States government after the treaty of 1830 they were, in effect, suspended by the governor, so far as they related to Indians. There were similar circumstances in Georgia, involving much defiant talk adn proceedings. But the result was the same - the Indians were frightened into going west. In March 1831, the United States Supreme Court decided that the action of the Georgia Courts in sentencing four missionaries among the Creeks to four years in the penitentiary at hard labor was contrary to the laws and treaties of the United States and therefore null and void. In the following month the treaty was ratified by which the Creeks agreed to move west of the Mississippi.

Governor Scott, in 1833, vetoed a bill for the division of Yazoo county, asserting the principle of the national constitution that treaties are the supreme law of the land. It was expressly stipulated in the treaty of 1830 that the Choctaws might in part remain until the fall of 1833, and that the lands within the Choctaw district should not be sold until then, with the obvious intention of preventing settlements until that date. But the legislature passed the bill almost unanimously over the veto.

The treaty of 1830 with the Choctaws was made at the council ground between the two prongs of Dancing Rabbit creek (Chukfi ahihla bok, literally, Rabbit-there-dances creek) in what is now the bounds of Noxubee county. The spot was about a hundred yards west of the well-known spring that bears the same name as the creek. The Chickasaw trail to the southern Choctaw towns (Six towns) ran by this spring, and Tecumseh traveled that way in 1811. This was the first Indian treaty at which the United States commissioners arrived in carriages. Maj. John H. Eaton and Gen. John Coffee, of Tennessee, close friends of President Andrew Jackson, were the commissioners, and they were instructed by the president to fail not to make a treaty. Gen. George S. Gaines was the commissary, and collected provisions for three thousand persons for one week. On their arrival the commissioners found a large number of Choctaws assembled, and the Indians continued to come and go throughout the negotiations, the estimate being that from first to last there were six thousand in camp, bringing with them many supplies, as the Indians were very sensitive about their independence. The people of the three mingoes, Leflore, Moshuli-topee and Nittakechi, were given separate camps. Leflore was attired in citizens clothes, which made some of the more ignorant Indians imagine he was in collusion with the whites; Moshuli-topee wore a new blue uniform presented by General Jackson; Nittakechi was glorious in hunting shirt and leggings, a bright colored shawl, silver bands and gorgets. The Christian party, under David Folsom, spent the evenings in signing and prayer; more sought the gambling tables and drinking places open by the white rabble that followed the commissioners. "By a strange paradox in the nature of the Choctaws, than whom no more chaste race ever existed, there was no licentiousness whatever at Dancing Rabbit." The Commissioners went to great trouble to drive away the missionaries and allowed the faro tables to remain unmolested. The talk began September 18, Eaton doing most of that work, and John Pitchlyn serving as interpreter. It is unnecessary to detail what was said. It was a repetition of what had been said in previous treaties, reinforced by the threat that if the Choctaws did not now make an arrangement with the United States they would be left to the laws of Mississippi, or to escape there from at their own expense.

At their first consideration of the proposition, Little Leader proposed to make war to hold their lands; other chiefs recited the stories of the wars they had fought for the United States and the injustice of the present demand, and only one councilman, Killihota, who was in fact an agent of the government, voted for removal. Eaton's intemperate reply to this decision caused many of the Indians to leave the camp and go home. There was a small party, however, disposed to make the best of necessity, the leader of these being Greenwood Leflore, who took part in framing another proposition, which after some stormy discussions, was made ready to sign September 27th. When it was presented, the INdians refused to sign, and Eaton made the greatest effort of his life, in an eloquent portrayal of the situation of the Choctaws. He was successful, thus, in causing the chiefs and headmen to affix their names, in a panic, after which there was tremendous excitement, and threats of personal violence upon the commissioners. Colonel Gaines was called upon as a pacificator, and he agreed to act as exploring agent in the west for the Choctaws, and join with Reynolds the Chickasaw agent, in persuading that nation to go west and live with the Choctaws. The commissioners beat a hasty retreat and Gaines was able to reduce the excited red men to a condition of quiet despair at last. It was Lincecum's testimony that "no treaty could have been made but for the solemn assurances of the commissioners that all might stay and keep their homes who did not wish to go, and the Indians distinctly understood that this was put down as part of the treaty."

The treaty was finally signed September 27, 1830, and among other provisions recited that, "the United States under a grant specially to be made by the President of the U.S. shall cause to be conveyed to the Choctaw Nation a tract of country west of the Mississippi river, in fee simple to them and their descendants, to inure to them while they shall exist as a nation and live on it, beginning near Fort Smith where the Arkansas boundary crosses the Arkansas river, running thence to the source of the Canadian Fork, if in the limits of the United States, or to those limits; thence due south to Red River, and down Red River to the west boundary of the Territory of Arkansas; thence north along that line to the beginning . . . . the Choctaw Nation of Indians consent and hereby cede to the United States, the entire country they own and possess, east of the Mississippi river; and they agree to move beyond the Mississippi river, early as practicable, and will so arrange their removal, that as many as possible of their people not exceeding one-half of the whole number, shall depart during the falls of 1831 and 1832; the residue to following during the succeeding fall of 1833. Then ensued certain stipulations providing that self-government should be secured to the Choctaws within their Western limits, subject only to the constitution, laws and treaties of theU.S..; that the United States yield the same protection to the Choctaws that it gives to the citizens of the U.S.; that offenders within the nation be delivered up to the U.S. authorities for punishment when the rights of a U.S. Citizen is involved; that offences against the Choctaws by U.S. citizens be referred to the president for equitable adjustment; that only duly authorized traders shall be permitted within the nation; that all navigable streams shall be free to the Choctaws; that post offices, military post roads, and posts, as deemed necessary, may be established within the nation by theU.S..; that all intruders shall be removed form the nation; that the right of private property shall always be respected; and only taken for public purposes on the payment of due compensation to the owner, and that a qualified agent be appointed for the Choctaws every four years, who shall fix his residence convenient to the great body of the people, respect to be paid the wishes of the Choctaw nation in the selection of said agent immediately after the ratification of the treaty.

Article XLV declared:
"Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the United States, shall be permitted to do so, by signing his intention with the Agent within six months from the ratification of this treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be bounded by sectional lines in survey; in like manner shall be entitled to one-half the quantity for each unmarried child which is living with him over 10 years of age to adjoin the location of the parent. If they reside upon said lands intending to become citizens of the States for five years after the ratification of this treaty, in that case a grant in fee simple shall issue; said reservation shall include the present improvement of the head of the family, or a portion of it. Persons who claim under this article shall not lose the privilege of a Choctaw citizen, but if they ever remove are not entitled to any portion of the Choctaw annuity."

The succeeding article made special reservations on four sections of land to each of the principal chiefs: Greenwood, Leflore, Moshuli-topee, and Nittakechi, together with small annuities to continue 20 years; also made special provision in money and clothing to certain of the lesser chiefs, captains and warriors.

Then ensued certain articles relating to the removal of the Indians by the U.S., food supplies, payment for cattle, survey of the ceded lands, reservations of land to specific classes of individuals, particularly to those who had certain acres under cultivation, orphans, etc. The United States further agreed to educate forty Choctaw youths for twenty years; to erect a Council House for the Nation; a house for each chief, and a church and a schoolhouse in each district; to provide teachers for 20 years; blacksmiths for 16 years; a mill-wright for five years, and to furnish 2,100 blankets, a rifle to each warrior who emigrated; 1,000 axes, ploughs, hoes, wheels and cards each; and 400 looms; also one ton of iron and 200 weight of steel annually to each District for 16 years.

The day following, September 28, certain supplementary stipulations were agreed to and signed. These stipulations chiefly related to special reservations of lands to specified individuals, among whom were two children of the U.S. interpreter John Pitchlyn and John Donly, for 25 years mail carrier through the Choctaw nation; provided for an exploring party of Choctaws to examine the new country; also for the payment of certain debts due Allen Glover and George S. Gaines, licensed traders.
(For further research, see Indian Affairs, VOl. 2, Treaties; also Story of the Treaty, by H.S. Halbert, Publ. Miss. Hist. Soc., VI, 373; also articles on Choctaw Land Frauds.)

In accordance with this treaty Congress in March 1831 appropriated $80,248 for the Choctaws - $9,593 for salaries of chiefs, suits of clothes and broadswords for 99 captains; $12,500 for the cattle arrangement; $10,000 to build council house, chief's houses and churches in the west; $5,500 for teachers and industrial outfits; $27,650 for blankets, rifles, agricultural implements, etc., and $5,000 for transportation. The annual appropriate for the Choctaw nation in 1832 and succeeding years was $66,000 in addition to various extra allowances.

See also Treaty of Pontotoc

Last Updated

Saturday, 20-Sep-2003 19:31:54 MDT


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