Place Published: North Fork C[reek] N[ation] Oklahoma
Publisher: George Washington Grayson
Date Published: 1870
INTERESTING HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT EARLY NATIVE AMERICAN LETTER
Written by George Washington Grayson, also known as Tulwa Tustunugge (Wolf Warrior) [1843-1920]
North Fork, C[reek] N[ation], 1 March 1870. Quarto (24,5x19,5 cm). 2 pp. Brown ink on creamy lined laid paper, bind stamped monogram in the left upper corner. Written in a legible hand. Fold marks, a couple of minor splits on outer folds, but overall a very good letter.
[INDIAN APPROPRIATIONS ACT GRAYSON'S OPPOSITION]
[Historically Significant Autograph Letter Signed by a Noted Creek Nation Writer, Publicist, Politician and Principal Chief of the Creek Nation in 1917-1920; the Letter Opposes the Federal Policy of Assimilation of the then Largely Independent Native Americans which Resulted in the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 and Subsequent Incorporation of the Indian Territory into the Oklahoma State in 1907].
Excerpts from the letter:
“My Brother Sam is still attending school at Cane Hill, and is highly complimented by all who are acquainted with him. He is studying some of the higher branches, and at the recent examination, he, and a Cherokee boy are said to have been awarded a higher report than any others...
You are aware I presume of the efforts made by some of the authorities of the magnanimous Government of the United States to force upon us a Territorial form of government. The Indian delegates are protesting ably and imploringly against the measure, but it seems that our chances must certainly be small with a Congress that will not hesitate to pronounce one of her own sisters first out of the Union, then in again when such movement will be advantageous to the interests of a party. The Indians do not with a Territorial form of government. They wish to remain in undisturbed enjoyment of their present rights and privileges for a number of years to come. Nor yet do they expect or even wish always thus to live. They are alive to the truth that this is an age of progress, and knowing that they will be sooner or later called into the lists, they are providing means for the education of the rising ones, and actually making every effort to prepare for the coming storm. But our opinion, that the extension of such a system of laws over us at the present, would immediately ultimate in the ruin of the Indian people.”
Interesting historically significant letter revealing the thoughts of an influential Creek Nation public figure on the approaching changes in the federal administration of the Indian Territory. In spite of a series of protests by the Native Americans, the Indian Appropriations Act, which was to be signed a year later (March 1871), abolished the system of treaties between them and the government, declaring that "no Indian nation or tribe" would be recognized "as an independent nation, tribe, or power with whom the United States may contract by treaty." The act further widened the government control over the Indian Territory and became a step in the process of its incorporation into the new state of Oklahoma in 1907.
In a letter to his “boyhood” and “schoolday” friend, noted Creek writer and nationalist George W. Grayson gives an overview of the federal intentions “to force upon us a Territorial form of government,” criticizes it and concludes that “the extension of such a system of laws over us at the present, would immediately ultimate in the ruin of the Indian people.” The letter is written in North Fork, then an important settlement of the Creek Nation; Grayson himself was born near it. The town site was located between the Canadian and North Canadian Rivers and is now inundated after the creation of the Eufaula dam and reservoir in 1956-64. Overall an important original letter presenting the problems the Indian Appropriations Act would cause for Native Americans.
“Tribal leader George Washington Grayson, or Tulwa Tustunugge (Wolf Warrior), a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was born circa May 12, 1843, near North Fork Town in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory. His father was James Grayson. Through his mother, Jane (Jennie) Wynne Grayson, he was a member of Coweta Town and the Tiger Clan. He attended Creek schools, Asbury Manual Labor School, and Arkansas College (1858–60). As a captain during the Civil War Grayson commanded Company B, Second Creek Mounted Volunteers, a Confederate unit. Afterward, his enterprises included Grayson Brothers Mercantile, cotton gins, livestock production, and the Indian Journal Printing Company at Eufaula, a town he helped found. Grayson was a scholar, writer, and Creek nationalist who defended Creek sovereignty and Indian rights, often in print. He was also a progressive, supporting education, enterprise, Christianity, and constitutional government. In public life for more than fifty years, he advised several principal chiefs, served as national treasurer, and was a member of the House of Warriors and House of Kings. He represented the Creek Nation at the Okmulgee and Sequoyah constitutional conventions, before the federal government in Washington, D.C., and Dawes Commission negotiations. Although an unsuccessful candidate for principal chief in the 1903 election, he was federally appointed in 1917 and served as chief until his death on December 2, 1920” (Warde, M.J. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture online).