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As though the Indians had not afflictions enough to endure merely because of their proximity to the contending whites, life was made miserable for them, during the period of the Civil War, as much as before and after, by the insatiable land-hunger of politicians, speculators, and would-be captains of industry, who were more often than not, rogues in the disguise of public benefactors. Nearly all of them were citizens of Kansas.

The cessions of 1854, negotiated by George W. Manypenny, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, were but a prelude to the many that followed. For years and years there was in reality never a time when some sort of negotiation, _sub rosa_ or official, was not going on. The order of procedure was pretty much what it had always been: a promise that the remaining land should be the Indian's, undisturbed by white men and protected by government guarantee, forever; encroachment by enterprising, covetous, and lawless whites; conflict between the two races, the outraged and the aggressive; the advent of the schemer, the man with political capital and undeveloped or perverted sense of honor, whose vision was such that he saw the Indian owner as the only obstacle in the way of vast material and national progress; political pressure upon the administration in Washington, lobbying in Congress; authorization of negotiations with the bewildered Indians; delimitation of the meaning of the solemn and grandly-sounding word, _forever_.

When the war broke out, negotiations, begun in the border warfare days, were still going on. This was most true as regarded the Osages, whose immense holding in southern Kansas was something not to be tolerated, so the politicians reasoned, indefinitely. Petitions,[622] praying that the lands be opened to white settlement were constantly being sent in and intruders,[623] who intended to force action, becoming more and more numerous and more and more recalcitrant. One of the first official communications of Superintendent Coffin embodied a plea for getting a treaty of cession for which the signs had seemed favorable the previous year. Coffin, however, discredited[624] a certain Dr. J.B. Chapman, who, notwithstanding he represented white capitalists,[625] had yet found favor with the Osages. To their everlasting sorrow and despoliation, the Indians have been fated to place a child-like trust in those least worthy.

The defection of portions of the southern tribes offered an undreamed of opportunity for Kansas politicians to accomplish their purposes. They had earlier thought of removing the Kansas tribes, one by one, to Indian Territory; but the tribes already there had a lien upon the land, titles, and other rights, that could not be ignored. Their possession was to continue so long as the grass should grow and the water should run. It was not for the government to say that they should open their doors to anybody. An early intimation that the Kansans saw their opportunity was a resolution[626] submitted by James H. Lane to the Senate, March 17, 1862, proposing an inquiry into "the propriety and expediency of extending the southern boundary of Kansas to the northern boundary of Texas, so as to include within the boundaries of Kansas the territory known as the Indian territory." Obviously, the proposition had a military object immediately in view; but Commissioner Dole, to whom it was referred, saw its ulterior meaning and reported[627] adversely upon it as he had upon an earlier proposition to erect a regular territorial form of government in the Indian country south of Kansas.[628] He was "unable to perceive any advantage to be derived from the adoption of such a measure, since the same military power that would be required to enforce the authority of territorial officers is all-sufficient to protect and enforce the authority of such officers as are required in the management of our present system of Indian relations."[629] And he insisted that the whole of the present Indian country should be left to the Indians.[630] The honor of the government was pledged to that end. Almost coincidently he negatived[631] another suggestion, one advocated by Pomeroy for the confiscation of the Cherokee Neutral Lands.[632] For the time being, Dole was strongly opposed to throwing either the Neutral Lands or the Osage Reserve open to white settlers.

Behind Pomeroy's suggestion was the spirit of retaliation, of meting out punishment to the Indians, who, because they had been so basely deserted by the United States government, had gone over to the Confederacy; but the Kansas politicians saw a chance to kill two birds with one stone, vindictively punish the southern Indians for their defection and rid Kansas of the northern Indians, both emigrant and indigenous. The intruders upon Indian lands, the speculators and the politicians, would get the spoils of victory. Against the idea of punishing the southern Indians for what after all was far from being entirely their fault, the friends of justice marshaled their forces. Dole was not exactly of their number; for he had other ends to serve in resisting measures advanced by the Kansans, yet, to his credit be it said that he did always hold firmly to the notion that tribes like the Cherokee were more sinned against than sinning. The government had been the first to shirk responsibility and to violate sacred obligations. It had failed to give the protection guaranteed by treaties and it was not giving it yet adequately.

The true friends of justice were men of the stamp of W.S. Robertson[633] and the Reverend Evan Jones,[634] who went out of their way to plead the Indian's cause and to detail the extenuating circumstances surrounding his lamentable failure to keep faith. Supporting the men of the opposite camp was even the Legislature of Kansas. In no other way can a memorial from the General Assembly, urging the extinguishment of the title of certain Indian lands in Kansas, be interpreted.[635]

It is not easy to determine always just what motives did actuate Commissioner Dole. They were not entirely above suspicion and his name is indissolubly connected with some very nefarious Indian transactions; but fortunately they have not to be recounted here. At the very time when he was offering unanswerable arguments against the propositions of Lane and Pomeroy, he was entertaining something similar to those propositions in his own mind. A special agent, Augustus Wattles, who had been sufficiently familiar and mixed-up with the free state and pro-slavery controversy to be called upon to give testimony before the Senate Harper's Ferry Investigating Committee[636] and who had been on the editorial staff of the New York Tribune,[637] had, in 1861, been sent by the Indian Office to inspect the houses that Robert S. Stevens had contracted to build for the Sacs and Foxes of Mississippi and for the Kaws.[638] The whole project of the house-building was a fraud upon the Indians, a scheme for using up their funds or for transferring them to the pockets of promoters like Stevens[639] and M.C. Dickey[640] without the trouble of giving value received.

From a letter[641] of protest, written by Stevens against Wattles's mission of inspection, it can be inferred that there was a movement on foot to induce the Indians to emigrate southward. Stevens, not wholly disinterested, thought it a poor time to attempt changes in tribal policy. His conclusions were right, his premises, necessarily unrevealed, were false. Wattles became involved in the emigration movement, if he did not initiate it, and, subsequent to making his report upon the house-building, received a private communication from Dole, asking his opinion "of a plan for confederating the various Indian tribes, in Kansas and Nebraska, into one, and giving them a Territory and a Territorial Government with political privileges."[642] This was in 1861, long before any scheme that Lane or Pomeroy had devised would have matured. Wattles started upon a tour of observation and inquiry among the Kansas tribes and discovered that, with few exceptions, they were all willing and even anxious to exchange their present homes for homes in Indian Territory. Some had already discussed the matter tentatively and on their own account with the Creeks and Cherokees. On his way east, after completing his investigations, Wattles stopped in New York and "consulted with our political friends" there "concerning this movement, and they not only gave it their approbation, but were anxious that this administration should have the credit of originating and carrying out so wise and so noble a scheme for civilizing and perpetuating the Indian race." Would Wattles and his friends have said the same had they been fully cognizant of the conditions under which the emigrant tribes had been placed in the West?

In February of 1862, the House of Representatives called[643] for the papers relating to the Wattles mission[644] and, in March, Wattles expatiated upon the emigration and consolidation scheme in a report to Secretary Smith.[645] Then, yet in advance of congressional authorization, began a systematic course of Indian negotiation, all having in view the relieving of Kansas from her aboriginal encumbrance. No means were too underhand, too far-fetched, too villainous to be resorted to. Every advantage was taken of the Indian's predicament, of his pitiful weakness, political and moral. The reputed treason of the southern tribes was made the most of. Reconstruction measures had begun for the Indians before the war was over and while its issue was very far from being determined in favor of the North.

As if urged thereto by some influence malign or fate sinister, the loyal portion of two of the southern tribes, the Creeks and the Seminoles, took in April, 1862, a certain action that, all unbeknown to them, expedited the northern schemes for Indian undoing. The action referred to was tribal reörganization. Each of the two groups of refugees elected chiefs and headmen and notified the United States government that it was prepared to do business as a nation.[646] The business in mind had to do with annuity payments[647] and other dues but the Indian Office soon extended it to include treaty-making.

Negotiations with the Osages had been going on intermittently all this time. No opportunity to press the point of a land cession had ever been neglected and much had been made, in connection with the project for territorial organization, of the fact that the Osages had memorialized Congress for a civil government, they thinking by means of it to prevent further frauds and impositions being practiced upon them.[648] Coffin and Elder, suspicious of each other, jealously watched every avenue of approach to Osage confidence. On the ninth of March, Elder inquired if Coffin had been regularly commissioned to open up negotiations anew and asked to be associated with him if he had.[649] A treaty was started but not finished for Elder received a private letter from Dole that seemed to confine the negotiations to a mere ascertaining of views.[650] Then the Indians grown weary of uncertainty took matters into their own hands and appointed several prominent tribesmen for the express purpose of negotiating a treaty that would end the "suspense as to their future destiny."[651] From the treaty of cession that Coffin drafted, he having taken a miserably unfair advantage of Osage isolation and destitution, the Osages turned away in disgust.[652] In November, some of their leading men journeyed up to Leroy to invite the dissatisfied Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la to winter with them.[653] Coffin seized the occasion to reopen the subject of a cession and the Indians manifested a willingness to sell a part of their Reserve; but again Coffin was too grasping and another season of waiting intervened.

With slightly better success the Kickapoos were approached. Their lands were coveted by the Atchison and Pike's Peak Railway Company and Agent O.B. Keith used his good offices in the interest of that corporation.[654] Good offices they were, from the standpoint of benefit to the grantees, but most disreputable from that of the grantors. He bribed the chiefs outrageously and the lesser men among the Kickapoos indignantly protested.[655] Rival political and capitalistic concerns, emanating from St. Joseph, Missouri, and from the northern tier of counties in Kansas,[656] took up the quarrel and never rested until they had forced a hearing from the government. The treaty was arrested after it had reached the presidential proclamation stage and was in serious danger of complete invalidation.[657] It passed muster only when a Senate amendment had rendered it reasonably acceptable to the Kickapoos.

Not much headway was made with Indian treaty-making in 1862.[658] In March, 1863, an element conditioning a greater degree of success was introduced into the government policy.[659] That was by the Indian appropriation act, which, in addition to continuing the practice of applying tribal annuities to the relief of refugees, authorized the president to negotiate with Kansas tribes for their removal from Kansas and with the loyal portion of Indian Territory tribes for cessions of land on which to accommodate them.[660] As Dole pertinently remarked to Secretary Usher, the measure was all very well as a policy in prospect but it was one that most certainly could not be carried out until Indian Territory was in Federal possession. Blunt was still striving after possession or re-possession but his force was not "sufficient to insure beyond peradventure his success."[661]

Scarcely had the law been enacted when John Ross and other Cherokees, living in exile and in affluence, offered to consider proposals for a retrocession to the United States public domain of their Neutral Lands. The Indian Office was not yet prepared to treat and not until November did Ross and his associates[662] get any real encouragement[663] to renew their offer, yet the Cherokees had as early as February repudiated their alliance with the southern Confederacy. That the United States government was only awaiting a time most propitious for itself is evident from the fact that, when, in the spring following, refugees from the Neutral Lands were given an opportunity to begin their backward trek, they were told that they would not be permitted to linger at their old homes but would have to go on all the way to Fort Gibson, one hundred twenty miles farther south.[664] That was one way of ridding Kansas of her Indians and a way not very creditable to a professed and powerful guardian.

Almost simultaneously with Ross's first application came an offer from the oppressed Delawares to look for a new home in the far west, in Washington Territory. The majority preferred to go to the Cherokee country.[665] Some of the tribe had already lived there and wanted to return. Had the minority gained their point, the Delawares would have traversed the whole continent within the space of about two and a half centuries. They would have wandered from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Susquehanna River to the Willamette, in a desperate effort to escape the avaricious pioneer, and, to their own chagrin, they would have found him on the western coast also. Never again would there be any place for them free from his influence.

In the summer of 1863, negotiations were undertaken in deadly earnest. A commencement was made with the Creeks in May, Agent Cutler calling the chiefs in council and laying before them the draft of a treaty that had been prepared, upon the advice of Coffin,[666] in Washington and that had been entrusted for transmission to the unscrupulous ex-agent, Perry Fuller.[667] The Creek chiefs consented to sell a tract of land for locating other Indians upon, but declared themselves opposed to any plan for "sectionizing" their country and asked that they might be consulted as to the Indians who were to share it with them. The month before they had prayed to be allowed to go back home. Well fed and clothed though they were, and quite satisfied with their agent, they were terribly homesick.[668] Might they not go down and clean out their country for themselves? It seemed impossible for the army to do it.[669]

Coffin next came forward with a suggestion that Indian colonization in Texas would be far preferable to colonization elsewhere, although if nothing better could be done, he would advocate the selection of the Osage land on the Arkansas and its tributaries.[670] Why he wanted to steer clear of the Indian Territory is not evident. The Pottawatomies[671] asked to be allowed to settle on the Creek land,[672] but the Creeks were letting their treaty hang fire. They wanted it made in Washington, D.C., and they wanted one of their great men, Mik-ko-hut-kah, then with the army, to assist in its negotiation.[673] Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la had died in the spring[674] and they were seemingly feeling a little helpless and forlorn.

Thinking to make better progress with the treaties and better terms if he himself controlled the government end of the negotiations, Commissioner Dole undertook a trip west in the late summer.[675] By the third of September the Creek treaty was an accomplished fact.[676] Aside from the cession of land for the accommodation of Indian emigrants, its most important provision was a recognition of the binding force of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. In due course, the treaty went to the Senate and, in March, was accepted by that body with amendments.[677] It went back to the Indians but they rejected it altogether.[678] The Senate amendments were not such as they could conscientiously and honorably submit to and maintain their dignity as a preëminently loyal and semi-independent people.[679] One of the amendments was particularly obnoxious. It affected the provision that deprived the southern Creeks of all claims upon the old home.[680] Dole's Creek treaty of 1863 was never ratified.

Other treaties negotiated by Dole were with the Sacs and Foxes of Mississippi,[681] the Osages, the Shawnees,[682] and the New York Indians. He attempted one with the Kaws but failed.[683] The Osages, who had recently[684] so generously consented to receive the unwelcome refugees on the Ottawa Reserve,[685] were distinctly overreached by the government representatives, working in the interest of corporate wealth. In August, the chief men of the Osages had gone up to the Sac and Fox Agency to confer with Dole,[686] but Dole was being unavoidably detained by the Delawares and by Quantrill's raid upon Lawrence,[687] so, becoming impatient, they left. The commissioner followed them to Leroy and before the month was out, he was able to report a treaty as made.[688] It was apparently done over-night and yet it was not a conclusive thing; for, in October, the Osage chiefs were still making propositions[689] and making them after the fashion of the Creeks long before at Indian Springs.[690] Dole had finally to be told that the rank and file of the Osages would not allow their chiefs to confer with him except in general council.[691] As a matter of fact, not one of the Dole treaties could run the gauntlet of criticism and, consequently, the whole project of treaty-making in 1862 and 1863 accomplished nothing beneficial. It only served to complicate a situation already serious and to forecast that when the great test should come, as come it surely would, the government would be found wanting, lacking in magnanimity, lacking in justice, and all too willing to sacrifice its honor for big interests and transient causes.