Red over Black: Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians

By R. Halliburton Jr. | Go to book overview
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3 Maturity and Westward Movement

The Cherokees were not the only Indians who had experienced the loss of their lands, nor were they the only tribe capable of sophisticated political organization. Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader, won several tribes to his grandiose plan for an Indian confederacy which would attempt to arrest the constant encroachment upon Indian lands. Tecumseh spent the years 1788 and 1789 with the Cherokees, and his mother had resided among the tribe for many years. It is possible that his association with Dragging Canoe during this time influenced Tecumseh's political life and helped fashion his concept of the great Indian confederacy that became his life work. In 1811, Tecumseh journeyed back to the South to enlist the aid of the southern tribes. All were asked to send representatives to hear Tecumseh speak in the square at Tukabatchie, the principal Creek town. In his speech, Tecumseh made the Indians' claim to territorial rights clear:

The white people have no right to take the land from the Indians, for it is ours. The Great Spirit gave it to us. Let all the redmen unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was at first, and should yet be, for it never was divided, but belongs to all, for the use of each of us.1

"Prophets" who preached the return to the old ways of life then began to appear in Cherokee towns. A Cherokee prophet from Coosawatie spoke before a great council at Ustanali and explained:

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