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Title:Answers to enquiries relating to the Cherokees, 1817 Aug., Cherokee Agency / Colonel Return J. Meigs: A machine-readable transcription
Author:Meigs, Return Jonathan, 1740-1823

This work is the property of the University of Tennessee Special Collections Library. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

Date: August 1817
Extent: 4p
Summary:This document is a set of questions and answers relative to the social and physical condition of the Cherokee Indians. Notation on the document indicates that it was written in August 1817 by Colonel Return J. Meigs and directed to a Mr. Trott.
Repository:Special Collections Library, The University of Tennessee Knoxville
Collection: Penelope Johnson Allen

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[added: Notes to Mr. Trott from Col. R. J. Meigs - Cherokee Agency , 3 August 1817] Answers to enquiries relating to the Cherokees .

Qu [Question]: What is the number of the Cherokees ?

An [Answer]: The whole number of the Cherokees is by estimation 13,000.

Qu [Question]: In what part of the United States are they situated?

An [Answer]: Principally within the Chartered limits of Georgia & Tennessee but recently imigrations have been made to Arkansas river . The number of these emigrants is estimated at about 3000.

Qu [Question]: What is the state of the Cherokees with respect to property?

An [Answer]: They have great numbers of Domestic annimals [animals], a considerable number of Negro slaves, a number of good plantations, a number of Grist mills, some sawmills, & they manufacture Salt Petre [Saltpeter] & Gun powder by the aid of white men.

Qu [Question]: What is their State as [added: to] acquired information?

An [Answer]: A considerable number [added: have] the knowledge of letters & figures.

Qu [Question]: but schools are greatly needed for the poor children.

Qu [Question]: What is their present state & future prospect with respect to education?

An [Answer]: There is at present two public schools, some private schools, and a prospect of more public or free schools by respectable societies from Massachusets & Kentucky .

Qu [Question]: What number of children at proper age for instruction?

An [Answer]: Not less than 1200 or 1500 between six and fourteen years of age, at a moderate calculation, but they are scattered over a great tract of Country.

Qu [Question]: What is the state of the Cherokees with respect to religious knowledge?

An [Answer]: They have as a people no acquired knowledge of religion. Their Green corn dance, so called, is undoubtedly of religious origin, it is only an annual meeting & may be justly termed a Feast of the first fruits.

Qu [Question]: Do the Cherokees believe in the being of a God?

An [Answer]: Yes universally.

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Qu [Question]: What conceptions have they of his attributes?

An [Answer]: That [added: his] power, & his goodness are infinite, that he approves or disapproves of our conduct here.

Qu [Question]: Do they believe in a future state of existence?

An [Answer]: Yes & that [added: it] will be terrestial enjoyment. For want of instruction they cannot elevate their minds above materiality they have no apprehensions of future unhappiness.

Qu [Question]: What are their most prominent traits of character?

An [Answer]: Hospitality and kindness (and without ostentation) to the whole human race except in instances where they concieve that they are grossly injured.

Qu [Question]: How do gross injuries affect them?

An [Answer]: They think it not only right; but necessary & very honorable to retaliate & take ample revenge.

Qu [Question]: Is their resentment implacable, unforgiving and inexorable?

An [Answer]: No. On receiving satisfaction they make peace and reieve [receive] the Children of their enemy into their bosoms, accept them by the force of immagination [imagination] as their own, to fill the place of those killed by the same enemy.

Qu [Question]: Do they then love their enemies?

An [Answer]: No, not as enemies; it is not a sentiment of nature, and revelation has not reached [unclear] [added: their minds] or hearts.

Qu [Question]: Are they willing to receive instruction?

An [Answer]: Yes, but lessons must be short.

Qu [Question]: What is the greatest obstacle to [added: their] improvement?

An [Answer]: [added: a dislike of all] Restraint, [unclear: close ] application is abhorrent to their minds.

Qu [Question]: Can that obstacle be removed?

An [Answer]: Yes. By waiting, by patience [added: &] ingenuity [added: in] of the teachers. line [added: must be] upon line. [added: line upon line] here a little, and there a little. They

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they cannot be hurried, if they are hurried it will disconcert them, and all will be lost. care must be taken not make the lessons tedious they cannot at present bear long, close application if that is attempted all will be lost.

Qu [Question]: What are the principal pursuits of the Cherokees for subsistence?

An [Answer]: Hunting is the favorite pursuit where there is game. where it is scarce, the men are Herdsmen & cultivators.

Qu [Question]: What are the pursuits of the females?

An [Answer]: Raising Cotton, Indigo, spinning, dyeing yard & weaving & taking care of family household affairs.

Qu [Question]: In what estimation are the women held by the males?

An [Answer]: Since the introduction of domestic manufactures the females are held in higher estimation by the men. They are emerging from a partial kind of slavery with their proper place in society. They are more esteemed by the males, & as esteem & love are concomitant between the sexes, love is becoming a sentimental passion never known in a perfect savage state.

Qu [Question]: Have the Cherokees strong prejudices against whites?

An [Answer]: No they hold all good men in high esteem - respect.

Qu [Question]: Are there [added: any] intermarriages between the Cherokees and the whites?

An [Answer]: Yes. A great number & they are increasing; nearly half the Cherokee nation are the offspring of such int[added: er] marriages.

Qu [Question]: Is there any apparent improvement in such offspring, [unclear]An either in body or mind?

Ansr. [Answer] In size only. nothing in symetry of form or in mental powers. The form of the aborigine is the most perfect, there [their] Head-shoulders, Chest hands & feet, are with few exception the most perfect.

Qu [Question]: Is there any apparent difference [added: in the] temper and disposition or in the intellectual faculties between the aborigines & the offspring of [unclear: their ] intermarriages?

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An [Answer]: There is a marked difference [added: in] their manner & deportment between them. the offspring [added: of their intermarriages] are more volatile, have more levity, more cunning, less thought, less solidity, less dignity of deportment. There is no ostentation, no affection [added: self [unclear] consequences] in the male and no affectation or coquetry in the female of the aborgine -nature has been bountiful both to the exterior & to the mind and soul of the aborigines. They are undoubtedly susceptible of the finest improvement & in all the moral qualities decidedly have the advantage [unclear].

Qu [Question]: Have the Cherokees any knowledge of the Heavenly Bodies Constellations of the Zodiac? or names for any of the starrs [stars]?

Answer Answer. They have. The Ursa Major they call the [unclear: Auneelqonah ] [added: the Great Bear] & have observed its movement round the Pole. The Pleiades. they call the little Boys. The evening starr [star] they [added: call] the Torch from its superior Brightness.

How [added: Qu [Question]]: How do they reckon time?

An [Answer]: For the year they count the moons; but making only 12 by throwing away the [unclear] Days The [They] calculate a time of year by winter their own age by winters.

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