Native American Relations
Early artist's rendition of a buffalo hunt
Note: Visit our on-line exhibit Native American Relations in Texas for more complete information on this topic.
Image: Mirabeau B. Lamar. The Treaty at Bird's Fort was a rare instrument: it was actually ratified by the Republic of Texas Senate. Throughout both his administrations, Sam Houston worked to negotiate with the Texas tribes, not only because of his natural inclination but also because the new Republic simply could not afford to be at war both with the Indians and the Mexicans. His policy had already been put into practice when he and John Forbes negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee on February 3, 1836.
President Mirabeau B. Lamar, on the other hand, was convinced that the tribes were conspiring with the Mexicans, and he also believed that the tribes constituted a foreign nation in competition with the Republic. He actively supported a policy of extermination and expulsion, a policy which removed the Cherokee altogether and which helped plunge the new nation into considerable debt.
Bowie's report on the Indian tribes made in 1835 shows the determination of both the Anglos and the Mexicans to use Indians to their advantage in the growing conflict of cultures. His visits, however, apparently coincided with a major harvest festival, and the drinking and dancing Indians were of no use for negotiation at first. His report of Holland Coffee's dealings with the tribes echoes reports elsewhere that Coffee was aiding Indian depredations through trade-specifically by giving the Indians guns and whiskey in exchange for stolen cattle and horses.
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