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Gottlieb F. Oehler to Eli K. Price

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Prairie City P. O. Douglas Co., Kansas
July 11th 1859
Dear Sir

Permit me to address a few lines to you, on a subject however, on which its appears we feel alike. I am a missionary of the Moravian, United Brn. [Brethren] Church) & have been in the Territory ever since 1846, with a short intermission. I have seen the operation on the frontier among the semicivilized Indian & have seen the Indian in his original state. And having been at the federal City [Washington D.C.] for a number of times, about Indian affairs & having made the acquaintance of many agents for the Indians I received considerable inside into that branch of our Government. And when courts where established in this Territory I made it an object to learn in how far the Indian would be protected by it. But, alas! All is calculated to exterminate the Indian & destroy or hinder all the good which is done by benevolent Societies. The master stroke however, to accomplish the object has been done a few weeks since by the expounding of the laws in relation for the protection of the Indians. It is decided by the U.S. supreme court for this Territory, that there is no law in existance by which a person can be reached, who trespasses on the Indians rights & that the U.S. has no rights to prosecute a person making a settlement on Indians land. For two years I followed up such cases. Having seen hundreds of cords of wood carried away, building timber & rails. Have seen how the Indian soil was cultivated by intruders.

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houses built on their land & making the effort to drive the Indian from his own home. I thought it impossible that person, guilty of such crimes, & when 4 to 5 witnesses stand ready to testify to it should be dismissed & yet some 20 such cases were dismissed that have made settlements on not more than 4 sections of Indian land & besides these I saw about 50 other cases dismissed. My heart failed me & I was ready to cry; ?Lord it is anough [enough] now, take away my life for I am no better than my fathers.? I had no more hope, for if the Indians can not be protected for the avariciousness of the white man if there is no penalty that he has to fear, every stick of timber will be taken from the Indian, he will be harassed day after day, & I have already written to the officer of my church that I consider the mission work closed in Kansas & that I were ready to return home.

But strange as it may appear, it is so nevertheless that my mind was secured to the east. I felt asured [assured] there was no hope in the west of a reaction, in the Indians behalf, But I had to believe, if the east could only be enlightened on Indian treatment & their wants, they were not so corrupt, but would yet rise up for the rescue of the Indian, if there were only a man of spirit & ability to reveal, & arouse them. That is my only hope. And it was cheering beyond measure when a few days ago on a visit to the Ottawa Indians I learned of my friend John Jones, that there were societies forming for that purpose. I read the proceedings of the meeting both of N. Y. & Phila. I rejoiced at the spirit of the meeting both of N. Y. & Phila. I rejoiced at the spirit manifasted [manifested] in the resolutions I read your remarks

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& a hope gleamed up in my darkened vision that the wicked & destructive course now persued towards the Indians, may yet be arrested. If we were only left alone with them we could do much for their good, but the ruinous course has gathered strength by its age & power by popularity & the missionary can now only think of how to remove the evil & he could see no way to accomplish it. But the popular voice can. I do not expect much from christian denominations in this deriction [direction] the united masses can only effect it. And from the bottom of my heart I give you Gods speed. ?Come over & help us?!

I would now suggest that, in my opinion, you ought to investigate or see it done, or at least agitate it, whether it be a fact that there is no law or statute by which one can reach trespassers on Indian rights.

I know well that there is a penalty of one thousand dollars against making a settlement &c on Indian lands. But Judge Pettetr decided, ?that since the land belongs to the Indian & not to the U.S. the U.S. has no right to create a revenue out of that which does not belong to it, that the Indians should bring the suit? Well we did, by injunction & by indictment for the Indians & for the U.S. but nothing would do. And a Indian to bring suit in his name is nonsense. How can a ward sue. yet I am not a lawyer, & do therefore not understand the law.

Hoping that these lines may find favor

I am very respectfully your &c

G. F. Oehler
Hon Eli K. Price



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