Friendly Indians

Taken from Loose Leaves of the History of Lamar County
Article appeared in The Paris News on Sunday, July 10, 1921

If all Indians had been alike hostile and could have federated themselves into one harmonious body, the task of conquering the western continent for civilization would have been vastly greater. Nearly all, if indeed it may not be said all, the Indians known to the pioneer settlers of northeast Texas, were like themselves emigrants from portions of the United States to the East. Therefore, those who sometimes grow sentimental about our treatment of these noble sons of the forest, display far more feeling than discretion. Among Indians themselves in their intercourse with each other, the law of the jungle prevailed. War was their normal condition. Within the compass of Texas history, several tribes of Indians have become wholly extinct, and they were not effaced by the white man, but by other red men. The friendly Indians who rendered such timely protection to the early settlers in the old Red River District were in no danger from their white neighbors as they were really much appreciated by them.

Among the tribes represented in these friendly groups were the Kickapoos, some of whom lingered in their wigwams until long after Texas ceased to be a Republic and then some of them adopted the ruder phases of civilization and after a fashion imitated the ways of civilization. But they have long since disappeared, and their only monument is to be found in Kickapoo Creek near Annona in Red River County. Upon its banks they sat and saw the sun set on all their hopes and ambitions to become a great and influential tribe. In their feebleness, near the end of their tribal life in Texas, they were friendly with the whites as much for their own protection and preservation from extinction by other strange tribes, as from any love for the whites.

Then there were the Delawares. They were not to the “manor born;” they had simply drifted West after having almost suffered extinction in their eastern homes. They had been for generations on the borders of civilization. They knew the sun of civilization had risen and that it was destined to sweep over the whole of the North American continent and that to resist it further was to fight against fate and their own extinction would only be accelerated. Hence they came down to Texas drifting with the tide, but they brought these convictions and experiences with them and decided to take their stand in close proximity to the white settlers because they were not strong numerically, and the whites would be as much or more protection than they could hope to be in return. But they were gone. The very last remnant. Their only monument is to found in Red River County, “Cuthand Creek.” The chief of the Delawares who settled or rather pitched their camp there for some years had lost an arm in the Battle of Tippecanoe, and their expression cut hand (off) so Cuthand Creek is so called in memory of the old warrior and in recognition of the substantial aid of his tribe, though few in number, rendered as they camped there and were a bulwark between the settlers and the hostile tribes of the prairies.

Then there were the Shawnees who camped for several years some four miles south of the city of Clarksville and their chief was “Cow-leach.” These are all gone, but a listening post, a sort of fort and tower to the old settlers while there, and were both much needed and appreciated. The prairie near which they camped is now called “Cow-leach” prairie—this is the sole monument.

Then there were the Choctaws. They have always been kind and have more successfully lived at peace with the white men than most of the tribes. They were a help to the settlers because after removal to the old Indian Territory they were on the north bank of the Red River in great numbers and thus offered effectual protection from the north because they were always friendly. Then, too, they in small detachments for a time lived on the south side of the river. About 500 of them lived at Pattonville in 1836, and we have the testimony of the Pattons and others to the effect that but for their kindly aid and friendly protection the settlers would have been force to retreat and that settlement of this section would have inevitably been retarded several years. Yet these friendly Choctaws have received no recognition from us; we did not even call Bee Bayou where and upon which they camped, Choctaw Bayou, but call it Bee Bayou because of the number of honey bees to be found along its banks in the long ago.
Most of these friendly Indians hugged the delusion that when the time came Texas would make some provision for them; they loved Texas and wanted to stay, preferring to do so rather than find homes in the Indian Territory. But when the constitution of the Republic was adopted and after the First Congress had adjourned and no provision was made for them they began to move away and only the Kickapoo lingered and hoped against hope. At first impression we feel that the Republic of Texas deserves a stinging rebuke for this apparent neglect. But a more careful and deliberate consideration discloses this fact of facts: All of these Indians were Eastern Indians and had been and were being provided for by the United States in the Indian Territory. Texas owed those of which we have spoken no obligation except the protection they were to the settlers during their brief residence on Texas soil. Then against that is the further fact that these tribes were small—mere etachments—and the settlers were probably as much aid in preserving them from extinction as the Indians were in protecting the settlers. Then too it must be remembered that all Texas had been so cruelly grilled by the wild tribes that the people were in no fit frame of mind to weigh carefully the niceties of perfect justice and kindly appreciation.

 


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