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Red Jacket Rejects Sale of Buffalo Creek Reservation: July 9, 1819.

Transcription of the original letter found in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.
In 1819 preemption holders moved to close the Buffalo Reservation and concentrate
its residents on the Allegany Reservation. In July, the Ogden Land Company, owners
of the preemption rights to the remaining Indian lands, sponsored a council at the
Buffalo Creek Reservation. Here, Red Jacket not only rejects the proposed sale of the
Buffalo Creek Reservation, he orders all whites to leave the reservation.
Erastus Letter from 1816

Brothers...You have come (here) for a different purpose than the one expected. Your coming is to tell us of our situation; to tell us about our reservations; to tell us the opinion of the President that we must change our old customs for new ones; that we must concentrate ourselves in order to derive the fair means you offer of civilization and imporvement in the arts of agriculture.


At the treaty of canandaigua we were promised on the part of your government that different kinds of mechanics, blacksmiths and carpenters should be sent among us to improve us in these arts. And we were promised that farmers with their families should be sent that our women might learn to spin. We agreed to accept them. We even made application for these benefits. We were told that the age of our children was not suitable, and none of our young men were taught. Other treaties have promised us these things. Neither farmers nor mechanics have been sent us.


We had thought that all the promises made by one President were handed down to the next. We do not change our Chiefs as you do. Since these treaties were made with us you have had several changes of your President. And we do not understand why the treaty made by one President is not binding upon the other. On our part we expect to comply with our engagements.


We are improving in our situation. See those large flocks of cattle. Look at those fences. These thinhgs were not seen formerly. We are surrounded by the whites; from them we can readily obtain cattle, and by what we procure from them we enlarge our improvements.

You told us, where the country was surrounded by whites and in possession of Indians, where it was unproductive, not liable to taxes, nor to make roads and other improvements,it was time to change.

As for the taxing of Indians, it is extraordinary. This was never heard of since the first settlement of America. The land is ours by the gift of the Great Spirit. How can you tax it? We can make such roads as we want, and we did so when this soil was all ours. Now that we are confined to small reservations, we can easily make the roads we want, and we did so when this soil was all ours. Now that we are confined to small reservations, we can easily make the roads we want, and assist in making public improvements

Look back at the first settlement of this Country. And after that look at our present condition under the United States. Under the British Government we continued our growth in numbers and in strength. What has now become of the Indians who extended themselves in large numbers to the Salt Waters? They are become few and are driven back, while you have been growing rich and powerful. This land is ours from the God of Heaven. It was given us. We cannot make land. Driven back and reduced as we now are, you still wish to cramp us more and more. These lands are ours given by the Heavenly Father. You tell us of a preemptive right. Such men you say own one reservation, such men another. But they are all ours; ours from the top to the very bottom. If Mr. Ogden should tell us that he had come from heaven with the flesh on his bones, as he now is, and that the Heavenly Father had given him a title, we might believe him.

The President has sent us word, you say, that it is our interest to dispose of our reservations. You tell us there is a fine tract of land at Alleghany. This too is very extraordinary. Our feet have covered every inch of that reservation. Such a communication as this has never before been made to us in any of our treaties. The President must have been disordered in mind, or he would not offer to lead us off by the arms to the Alleghany Reservation.

You have heard of our treaty with the United States and our understanding with them. Here is the belt of wampum that confirmed the treaty. This holds our hands together. Here too is the parchment. You know its contents. I will not open it. Now the tree of friendship is decaying; its limbs are fast falling off, and you are at fault.

Formerly we addressed the British as brothers. Now we call the President our Father. Probably among you are gentlemen with families of children. We consider ourselves the children of the President. What then would be your feelings, were you told, your children were to be cast on a naked rock; there to protect themselves?

The different claims you tell us of, I cannot understand. We were placed here by the Great Spirit for purposes known to him. You can have no right to interfere. You told us that we had large and many unproductive tracts of land. We do not view it so. Our seats we consider small; and if left here long by the Great Spirit we shall stand in need of them. We shall want timber. Land after the improvements of many years wears out. We shall want to renew our fields; and we do not think that there is any land in any of our reservations, but what is useful.

Look at the white people around us and back. You are not cramped for seats; they are large. Look at that man (pointing to Mr. Ellicott)[Joseph Ellicot, Resident Agent of the Holland Land Company], he has plenty of land. If you want to buy, apply to him. We have none to part with.

Some here laugh. But do not think I trifle. I am sincere. Do not think we are hasty in making up our minds. We have had many councils and thought for a long time upon this subject. And we will not part with any; not one of our reservations....

Do not make your application anew in any other shape. Let us hear no more of it; and let us part as we met, in friendship. You discover white people on our reservation. It is my wish, and the wish of all of us, to remove every white man. We can educate our children. Our reservation is small. The white people are near us; we can send our children to their schools. Such as wish can do so. The schoolmaster and the preacher must withdraw. The distance is short for those who wish to go to them. We wish to get rid of all the whites. Those who are now among us make disturbances. We wish our reservation clear of them.



(Delivered in Council, July 9, 1819)
[signed] Jos: Delafield, Sec'y



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