The Cherokees’ Appeal

Newspaper Article

Background Notes

During the debate in Congress on the Indian Removal Act, this poem, “The Cherokees’ Appeal,” appeared in the April 21, 1830 issue of the Massachusetts Spy, a Worcester newspaper. It was almost certainly written by a non−Indian who sympathized with the southeastern tribes.

Transcription of Primary Source

How can we leave our father’s land!
How can we leave our native place!
These long−loved hills that round us stand—
Where once was seen the wild deer chase?
These pleasant valleys—gentle slopes—
These fruitful fields that round us rise,
Yield sustenance that crowns our hopes—
Repay our toil with rich supplies.
To chase the game that haunt the wood,
Was once the business we pursued;
But white men taught us how to toil,
To cultivate and dress the soil;
And now our spirits, once so fierce,
Are tam’d to civil life and peace,
And in our bosoms gentle swell,
The white man’s calmer soul would dwell;—
Ye seek to grasp our rightful soil,
To drive us hence, thro’ wilds and woods,
In boundless prairies, drear, to toil,
Beyond Arkansas’ rolling floods.

But wheresoe’er we’re doom’d to roam,
No place, like this, will feel like home.

What tho’ the western forests seem,
More tall—more stately—wider spread,
O’er hill and valley; and the stream
Run gently o’er its pebbly bed;
What tho’ the waters there afford
Abundance of the finny race;
And buffaloes in number herd,
And feed about from place to place;
Its rocks and glens we never knew;
Not thro’ its ravines once passed through;
Nor once explored those caverns rude,
Deep buried there in solitude—
That fling with reverberating sound,
The war−whoop and halloo around.

Where’er we go, where’er we roam,
No place, like this, we feel like home.

We cannot leave our fathers’ graves!
We cannot leave our native place!
And go beyond Arkansas’ waves,
To mingle with another race.
These western wilds are far away,
Among the regions of the west;
Where wolves and panthers thirst for prey,
And eagles build their airy nest:
Where our forefathers ne’er pursu’d,
The wild game thro’ Arkansas wood;
Nor ever were their footsteps traced
Among the regions of this waste.
But here have dwelt from days of yore,
Around Savannah’s inland shore.
These lands around us, which we claim,
Sustain’d our sires from age to age,
And since the white man ’mongst us came,
Has been confirm’d by treaties sage.
Their fair, smooth brows, we all might trust,
But treachery seem’d to lurk within,
Your promises we now distrust,
And deem your broken faith, a sin.
Oh bid us not from here to roam,
No other spot can feel like home!

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
Massachusetts Spy
Old Sturbridge Village