The Long Native American Removal: 1760-1799

Native American removal lasted nearly one century. Relations between Native Americans, Spain, and the United States were complex. The letters and maps shown here reflect the competing interests that led to the removal of Native Americans from their home lands. 

History of the American Indians: Particularly Those Nations Adjoining to the Missisippi [!] East and West Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and Virginia...

"A Map of the American Indian Nations" within History of the American Indians by James Adair
Map, 1775
Sam Fleming Southern Civilization Collection,
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

This map depicts the southern region of Colonial America circa 1775. It was created for two wealthy Englishmen, Edward and Charles Dilly. It identifies Native American nations as well as Spanish and French colonial holdings.

[Talk of the Choctaw Nation to the Creek Nation] [Talk of the Choctaw Nation to the Creek Nation] [Talk of the Choctaw Nation to the Creek Nation] [Talk of the Choctaw Nation to the Creek Nation]

[Talk of the Choctaw Nation to the Creek Nation]
Letter, June 10, 1795
James Robertson Papers,
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Prominent Choctaw leaders request Creeks to end hostilities with the Chickasaw. After attempting to convince the Creeks on the grounds of communal friendship, Choctaw leaders remind them Americans will take advantage of divisions between Native Americans to steal land. Ending the conflict would allow unity to better defend their interests. The letter notes the meeting was held in the presence of Spanish official Pedro Oliver in Mobile, then part of Spanish Florida. Alliances between various Native Americans nations, Spain, and the U.S. were fluid during this time. 

[Clay Pot with Bear Head]

[Clay Pot with Bear Head]
Found in New Madrid, Missouri; Undated
Peabody College Collection,
Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery

This earthenware ceramic clay pot with bear head was found in New Madrid County, Missouri.

[George Washington's Address to the Chickasaw Nation] [George Washington's Address to the Chickasaw Nation] [George Washington's Address to the Chickasaw Nation]

[George Washington's Address to the Chicksaw Nation]
Letter, August 22, 1795
James Robertson Papers,
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

President George Washington spoke to prominent Chickasaws seeking American support in their conflict against Creeks. While addressing his audience in a paternalistic manner, Washington apologizes that he cannot assist the Chickasaws. He claims U.S. neutrality in affairs among Native Americans. Washington had pledged economic support and protection during an earlier meeting with Chickasaws in 1794. General James Robertson, federal agent to the Chickasaw, is criticized for promising them military support. The letter demonstrates conflicting American policies at the local and federal level towards Chickasaws who mostly allied with the U.S.

[Letter to Colonel David Henley] [Letter to Colonel David Henley]

[Letter to Colonel David Henley] by James Robertson
Letter, July 2, 1797
James Robertson Papers,
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

General James Robertson shares the news of the death of John Gentry, at the hands of Native Americans, with Colonel David Henley. Gentry was killed near the Harpeth River, less than 18 miles from Nashville, in territory claimed by Tennessee. Robertson had a long history of interacting with Native Americans as a representative of the Watauga Association and also federal Chickasaw agent. He speculates Gentry was killed by the people of Holston, members of the Cherokee Nation.

[Overtures of Peace with Indians] [Overtures of Peace with Indians] [Overtures of Peace with Indians]

[Overtures of Peace with Indians]
Letter, September 10, 1792
James Robertson Papers,
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Cherokee leader the Bloody Fellow sent this letter to William Blount, Governor of the Southwest Territory, as Tennessee as called before statehood. The Bloody Fellow explains that he had begun talks with the Spanish to prevent the American government from taking Cherokee lands. He requests proper compensation for said land. This demonstrated diplomatic agency by Cherokees, pushing back against removal and white settler expansion. The Bloody Fellow later met George Washington, impressing him so much that he was given an American flag.

[A Talk from Mad Dog and Big Warrior of the Tuckabatcet in behalf of the Creek Nation to James Seagrove] [A Talk from Mad Dog and Big Warrior of the Tuckabatcet in behalf of the Creek Nation to James Seagrove] [A Talk from Mad Dog and Big Warrior of the Tuckabatcet in behalf of the Creek Nation to James Seagrove] [A Talk from Mad Dog and Big Warrior of the Tuckabatcet in behalf of the Creek Nation to James Seagrove]

[A Talk from Mad Dog and Big Warrior of the Tuckabatcet in behalf of the Creek Nation to James Seagrove]
Letter, April 22, 1795
James Robertson Papers,
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Mad Dog and Big Warrior, both members of the Creek Nation, corresponded on behalf of their people with James Seagrove. The latter served as a federal agent for Indian Affairs. The Creeks ask Seagrove to help secure them lands he promised. The tone of this letter is not desperate, but indicates that Mad Dog and Big Warrior needed assistance from American officials. This likely pointed to their trouble maintaining autonomy as Creeks fought Chickasaws and other Creek factions as multiple interests competed during this time.

[Stone Artifact [handle?]]

[Stone Artifact [handle?]]
Undated
Peabody College Collection,
Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery

This stone artifact is possibly a handle.

Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to the Present

"The Three Cherokees Came Over from the Head of the River Savanna to London, 1762" within Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to the Present
Publisher: University of Georgia Press; Athens, GA, 2007 
Vanderbilt University Libraries

This engraving depicts the visit to London by three Overhill Cherokee Warriors in the summer of 1762. From left to right are Outacite, Austenaco, and Uschesees. William Shorey, an interpreter who may have died during the voyage, is on the far left. Ensign Henry Timberlake, who chronicled his time in the Overhill towns, accompanied them to London. The visit marked diplomacy and reconciliation following the conclusion of war in 1762 between the British and Cherokee.