In 1841 U.S. government authorities sent Major Ethan Allen Hitchcock to Indian Territory to investigate numerous charges of fraud and profiteering by various contractors dealing with the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians, who had been removed from the South during the last decade. Hitchcock's report, filed after four months of travel, exposed such a high level of graft and corruption that his investigation was suppressed and never brought to the attention of Congress.
Hitchcock kept nine personal diaries of his travels and observations, however, and they reveal much historic and ethnographic information on Indian life in Indian Territory. He observes how the Indians were adjusting alter removal and includes many details on their customs, beliefs, culture, religion, ceremonies, amusements, industry, tribal councils, and government. To aid the modern reader, editor Grant Foreman provides an introduction and annotations, and Michael D. Green, in his foreword, explains the politics behind Hitchcock's mission to Indian Territory and his accomplishments in advancing ethnographic knowledge.