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Duval, William P.A History of Florida
Indians and the Reservations. You will remember that when the Indian chiefs had their "talk" with General Jackson, he told them they must be gathered together in a certain part of the Territory, and the plan had not pleased the red men. The first steps toward carrying out this plan were taken in 1823, when a number of Indians met at Camp Moultrie, six miles below St. Augustine, for a talk with Governor Duval.
When, where, and for what purpose was a conference held between the Indian chiefs and Governor Duval?
Several powerful chiefs refused to go or to make any agreement with the white people, and they said they would not be bound by any treaty that others made. After several days of talk a treaty was signed by which the Indians agreed to give up all claim to any land in Florida except that given them by the government. The land given them was a large tract twenty miles south of Micanopy. They were promised peaceable possession of this land, and care and protection as long as they obeyed the laws of the United States. They were to receive $6000 in cash for the improvements they had made on the lands they left, and $5000 every year. Rations of corn and salt were promised for a year. An agent was to live in the district, and a school was to be established at the agency. Six chiefs were allowed reserves on the Apalachicola River.
Duval's Leniency. Governor Duval now went among all the tribes in a friendly way, trying to make the Indians feel satisfied. He promised them that they should not be disturbed for a year, and that during this time the white people should not build houses or plant crops on their land. At the end of the year the Indians were not ready to go. They were not only planting crops, but also clearing more land for cultivation. Much suffering would have been caused by compelling them to leave their fields at once, and they were told that they might remain until November, so as to make and gather the crops planted.
Enemathla's Opposition. Enemathla, who had great influence over all the Indians, was chief of the Tallahassees. He was very much opposed to the coming of the white people. When Governor Duval tried to persuade him to go to the land reserved for the Indians, he would only agree to remove to lands on the Ocklockonee River; he also insisted that he should receive $600 in silver for improvements he had made on his land. Even then he refused to keep the agreement, and to show his contempt for the new government, sent a command to the United States soldiers at St. Marks "not to dare to leave the fort to ramble over the country."
What was agreed to? Where was the reservation? How did the Indians procrastinate? How did Governor Duval treat them in return?
In one of his talks with the governor he became very angry. His dark eyes gleamed with fire, and he more than once struck the table with his clinched fist. "Do you think," he said, "I am like a bat, that hangs by its claws in a dark cave, and that I can see nothing of what is going on around me? Ever since I was a boy I have seen the white people steadily encroaching upon the Indians, and driving them from their homes and hunting grounds. When I was a boy, the Indians still roamed undisputed over all the vast country lying between the Tennessee River and the great sea of the South, and now, when there is nothing left them but their hunting grounds in Florida, the white men covet that. I tell you plainly, if I had the power, I would tonight cut the throats of every white man, woman, and child in Florida."
Partly by persuasion, partly by threats, the governor got the promise of the Tallahassee Indians to meet him at St. Marks on a certain day for removal to the new lands When the time came few Indians appeared, and they were not willing to go to the reservation. Another day was appointed, and the governor commanded Enemathla to meet him at St. Marks with all his people ready for removal. When the day came, the Indians again failed to appear.
Who refused to go upon a reservation? What was Enemathla's complaint? How did he comply with the governor's commands?
Duval's Courageous Visit. The governor knew that Enemathla had influenced his people to remain where they were, and now news came that the chief was planning a general uprising. He resolved to set out at once for Enemathla's town. He told the interpreter not to come with him, as the interpreter had said that for them to go to Enemathla's town that day was certain death. So he rode off on horseback alone, but after a little way found that the interpreter was following him. "I am going where you go," said the faithful follower, "though I believe we shall both be killed."
The Legislative Council was in session for the first time at the new capital, and Tallahassee was crowded with politicians, and people who had come to enter land, or get titles to lands they had already been living on. But the governor did not stop to speak to any one, or tell any one of the business that was hurrying him on to the Indian town still several miles away.
At Enemathla's town he found more than three hundred warriors at a rough shelter known as the council house. Most of them were armed and all were sullen. Only a very brave "pale face" would have cared to go into that meeting. Governor Duval walked into the midst of the crowd as if he had a right to be there, and the interpreter followed him.
Enemathla was standing on a little platform speaking to the Indians. He told them they must not keep their agreement with the governor. As he went on speaking he became very angry, and said much to fill the minds of his people with hatred of the white men. With every word he spoke, the Indians became more angry and more excited.
What did Governor Duval hear regarding the Indians?
Enemathla Disgraced. Finally the governor cried out that Enemathla was a traitor, sprang upon him as he was speaking, seized him by the throat and put him out of the council. The Indians were too astonished to offer any resistance. Then the governor stood on the platform and spoke to the Indians. He told them Enemathla should no longer be chief, for he tried to keep the Indians from keeping their promise, and would make trouble for the red men as well as the white. "You might kill all the white people in Tallahassee and burn their homes," he said, "but the Great Father would send thousands of soldiers to punish you for it." He then said that the subchief, John Hicks, should be chief in Enemathla's place, and told him to get his people together for removal as soon as possible.
The Removal. After a little delay Hicks brought the Indians together at St. Marks, ready for the journey to the new lands. As there were not enough teams to take, all, most of them went in canoes. Enemathla made his way to Georgia and joined the Creeks, but he did not live many years, and never recovered from his mortification at the treatment he had received. So the Miccosukees and the Tallahassees passed away from their old fields, leaving only the musical names of their dwelling places to tell of their long possession of the land.
How did be prevent this trouble? How were the Indians finally moved? What became of Enemathla?
Arrows and spear heads, some beautifully made, are still found on their old hunting grounds; while stones used for pounding corn, and some odd bits of pottery may tell us much of the ways of the people whose homes were in the Florida forests.
Excerpt from Part Two, Chapter Five, "Governor Duval and the Indians" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.
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