Choctaw Chief Pushmataha

Response to Chief Tecumseh on War Against the Americans

probably delivered in the Spring of 1811

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio.]

Halt! Tecumseh, listen to me. You have come here, as you have often gone elsewhere, with a purpose to involve peaceful people in unnecessary trouble with their neighbors. Our people have no undo friction with the whites. Why? Because we have had no leaders stirring up strife to serve their selfish personal ambitions.

You heard me say our people are a peaceful people. They make their way not by ravages upon their neighbor, but by honest toil. In that regard they have nothing in common with you. I know your history well. You are a disturber! You have ever been a trouble-maker. When you have found yourself unable to pick a quarrel with the white man, you have stirred up strife between different tribes of your own race.

Not only that! You are a monarch, an unyielding tyrant within your own domain; every Shawnee, man, woman, and child must bow in submission to your imperious will. The Choctaws and  Chickasaws have no monarchs. Their chieftains do not undertake the mastery of their people, but rather are they the people's servants, elected to serve the will of the majority. The majority has spoken on this question, and it has spoken against your contention. Their decision has, therefore, become the law of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and Pushmataha will see that the will of the majority, so recently expressed, is rightly carried out to the letter.

If, after this decision, any Choctaw should be so foolish as to follow your imprudent advice and enlist to fight against the Americans, thereby abandoning his own people and turning against the decision of his own council, Pushmataha will see that proper punishment is meted out to him, which is death.

You have made your choice; you have elected to fight with the British. The  Americans have been our friends and we shall stand by them. We will furnish you safe conduct to the boundaries of this Nation, as properly befits the dignity of your office.

Farewell, Tecumseh. You will see Pushmataha no more until we meet on the fateful warpath.

Audio Source: Deloria Jr., Vine and Junaluska, Arthur (Speakers). (1976). Great American Indian Speeches, Vol. 1 (Phonographic Disc). New York: Caedmon.

Image Source:

Transcription Note: Text version above transcribed from the audio performance by Junaluska

Further Info:

Page Updated: 8/19/17

U.S. Copyright Status: Text, Audio = Uncertain. Image = Public domain.

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