Petition of George Johnson and other Chappaquiddick Indians to the Massachusetts General Court
The Indian Natives and Black inhabitants of Chappaquiddick request the Courts to uphold the law enacted in 1789, https://archives.lib.state.ma.us/actsResolves/1788/1788acts0035.pdf, holding Patentees and other land purchasers solely responsible for maintaining and repairing the divisional line fences. The animals of the White inhabitants trespass on their lands and do much damage. They have complained to the Guardians who do nothing, so the Indian and Black people impound the animals, only to have them freed without any compensation for the damages. They want the Court to intercede on their behalf and uphold the law so that the remaining land they have been allotted will be saved. The White landowners have circulated a petition requesting that the law be altered to have the Indians build and maintain one half of the divisional fence. The Indians have always improved their lands, considering themselves as tenants, for neither they nor their forefathers for “time immemorial” have been obliged by law to build or support any divisional fences. It would be unjust because the settlement of the land dispute gave the White people a larger portion of the land. If the Indians have to build and maintain the fence, it would be the same as the White people taking the rest of their land and the Indians and their children be “drove into the sea.” The land they have been allotted is poor and they can barely exist, so they pray that the Court protect and guard them from the encroachment of those who wish for the power to injure them.