Letter of J. F. Brown to editor of Catholic Columbian – 1887

The following is clipped from the Catholic Columbian, and will furnish interesting food for thoughtful men.

Hon. John F. Brown is chief of the Seminole Nation, and knows whereof he writes:

Seminole Nation, May 5, 1887.
Editor Catholic Columbian:

An act entitled “an act to provide for the allotments of the lands in severalty to Indians on the
various reservations and to extend the protection of the laws of the United States and the territories
over the Indians, and for other purposes.” approved February 8, A. D. 1887, provides that in “all cases
where any tribe or band of Indians has been, or-shall hereafter be, located upon any reservation created
for their use, either by treaty stipulation or by virtue of an act of Congress or executive order setting
apart the same for their use, the President of the United States is authorized, whenever in his opinion
any such reservation or any part thereof is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes, to cause
said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in
said reservation in severalty to any Indians located therein, in quantities from one-quarter to one-six-
teenth of a section,” from which, to an impartial or disinterested observer, the cloven foot is plainly
discernible and the sordid avarice of the thievish designer already discovered.

The advantages of these lands for grazing or for agricultural purposes have long been sufficiently
known to their rightful owners, who have never complained, nor questioned their title, guaranteed to
them under the most solemn promises of the United States government; nor can they be bamboozled into the
belief that they require the aid and superior intelligence of a Democratic administration to discover to
them the moment their lands become still more valuable than ever, even too much so for their own good and
safety, and they must part with the greater portion of them forever, the moment the President has thus
appraised these lands.

The magic wand of the originator of this gigantic and monstrous fraud–this pretender that has succeeded at last in the tradership for Indian friendships, and has so ignominiously betrayed a sacred trust, but has scarcely deceived an Indian by his ingenuity, changes the whole status of the Indian’s title to his land, both in respect to what he will have left and with that of which he is disinherited.

Let us see; the lands have simply become too valuable for the Indian to hold by virtue of the power conferred upon the President, provided of course he deems them of no account whatever, and the Indian must starve to death upon them any way, whenever the Government ceases to furnish him with commissaries, By the exercise of this executive authority, the Indian must have other protection, upon an old and often before misused principle, that “the hair of the dog is good for its bite.” He is given a new title on a new scale, and is promised greater security than ever in this title, which is the same kind of title the white man has to the aforementioned dog, the only secure one never before revealed to the Indian, one’ that makes a covenant so strong that no lean, lank or hungry Congressman can put it asunder, though the bark of this Indian canine, a cross between a jackal and a cayoute of the most aggravating species, were to hound his steps in Washington during his entire career as a most distinguished legislator.
Judging from the severe cost, such titles would be scarce, and however sufficient they may be to guard against loss, against the white man’s dog, they have been tried before in security for Indian lands, and failed to protect, and are there-fore not so suddenly discovered as we would be led to believe.

We have quite a number of remnants of tribes,once numerous, now living among us, who lost their all by the modern legislators’ watchful kindness forced upon them. These are to-day begging to be delivered
from the care of such would-be friends, and desire to be led against their enemies for a change.
The bill provides for their allotment shall be patented to them, individually, and the lands so
patented made inalienable for a period of twenty-five years–the residue of their lands it is provided and
plainly intended, shall be sold to the United States government at a price greatly below its actual value,
from which they can expect scarcely anything. Their allotments, made inalienable for a term of twenty-
five years, represent no actual value until that time will have elapsed, which will be sufficient for them
to find a place of burial for the greater number of them, for the influx of whites among them are sure
to bring habits of vice and a steady flow of whisky, and the result predicted is almost certain.
The law does not include the more intelligent portion of the territorial population, and plainly
acknowledges the incompetency of those involved to manage their affairs under the new era.
This change will not stimulate them to new efforts, nor do we believe the example of the new neighbors will elevate them. In the main, they have been fed, clothed and fostered by the Government, and are greatly dependent upon this aid for their support. This will have to be continued indefinitely with their contemplated surroundings, otherwise they will be rendered paupers; in the land surrounded with plenty, in which they are permitted to linger against any reasonable hope to survive their impending fate. God alone can inter-pose in His wisdom to save them from the effects of this fatal policy, fraught with so much misery, suffering and death.

Very respectfully
JOHN F. BROWN

-courtesy Indian Journal

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