This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Photo by courtesy of Western Magazine
Chief Joseph's Last Stand
Joseph, his people, and his marvelous retreat of nearly two thousand miles
By Donald MacRae
fifteen miles to the south of the
Great Northern Raillies
tracks at Chinook, Montana, a historic battlefield
the ravines and gullies that line the high blufifs
of Snake Creek near
junction with the Milk River in the trenches and earth works have grad-
ually fallen into decay and the wild flowers
have nearly obliterated the graves of
people today, save possibly those living close by or those
Northwest history, can
you the name of
place or of those w^ho so gallantly
yet less than
years ago on this very spot the white
the red were
fighting one of their last great battles.
fully defeated General
Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perce warriors had successHoward's men on the Lolo trail, fought a
General Gibbon at Big Hole and were rapidly
trail to join Sitting
by a circuitous
Bull in Canada, but
the telegraph of the white
man was working
to this Indian Chieftain, Colonel (later
General) Miles was
rapidly marching to the Northwest to intercept
him before he
of this he could
could reach the border.
have easily escaped with
people as he crossed the Missouri
a full day ahead of Miles, but the
Three Daughters of the Night
decreed otherwise and the opposing forces met at this spot on the
30th of September, 1877.
Three days later General Howard arrived upf)n the scene and, on the 4th of October, Joseph surrendered with eighty-seven war-
whom forty were wounded, one hundred and eighty-four squaws and one hundred and forty-seven children. This was the pathetic message of surrender he sent to General Howard
and have no blankets. I will fight no more with the whiteman.General Howard that I know his heart." twice at a two-faced man "Cursed be the hand that scalps the reputation of the dead "The . by Cyrus Toziiisciid Brady. His numbered more than three hundred warriors. But greatest of all is the fact that this campaign was conducted without the destruction of property and the murdering of settlers that usually was a part of Indian warfare. It is the young men now. my heart is sick and sad. This remarkable Indian had accompli.shed a feat that will be first magnitude. had retreated for nearly two thousand miles through an enemy country. No one knows where they are perhaps freezing I want to have time to look for my children. The old men are all dead. who say "yes" or "no" (that is. From where the sun now stands. little children are It is cold. of which they had won three. maybe I shall find to see how many of them I can find them among the dead. no food. which at no time '^American Fights and Fighters. standing six straight as an arrow and wonderfully handsome. people some of them have run away to the hills. my chiefs. a wonderful specimen of the Indian. I am tired of fightLooking Glass is dead. and to death. freezing to death. long remembered as a military exploit of the small force. reported to have said — "Look have become famous. his features being as clear-cut as chiseled marble. They had met United States troops eleven different times and had fought five pitched battles with them. Hear me. Too-hiil-hiil-sote is dead. ing. Our chiefs are killed. drew one and lost one. carrying with them their squaws and children. Sun of September lish is — The New York his death in commenting on —says He . and we have no blankets. Thr Xcz Perec W'ar.^ — My — The — . Tell told Ollicut) is dead. translated. also called Joseph —he bore — was 24. . 1904 this name for a long time as his father the last of the great warrior chief- He was tall. a feat that is more remarkable when you learn that the total force opposing them was nearly two thousand men." he was a great orator and though he never spoke a word of Eng- some of his sayings. What he me before — I have it in my heart. vote He who led the young men (Joseph's brother in council). Chief Joseph Young Joseph was feet tains.
my warriors would have To me it would have been a let the sunshine of joy in their hearts. instead of a noble grave and a grand procession. and always comes out of season it is the command of the Great Spirit. This he never did and "non-treaty" was cause of his taking charge of the Indians and consummating his marvelous retreat . Miller) What a misfortune for me that I could not have died this The trifling loss my nation day. upon that occasion. Miller) been in vain your attentions shall not be forgotten. Death will come. "Do not grieve. your labors have not ing himself to Col." "Finest fur may cover toughest meat. I shall be wrapped in a robe (an old robe. soon to be blown down to the earth my flesh to be devoured by (Addresswolves." Of eastern his early life not much is known save that he was born in Old Joseph's two sons and the hereditary chief of the Lower Nez Perce Indians. "misfortune will happen to the wisest and best men. : . Black Buffalo. that in visiting your father here misfortune of this kind may never again you have lost your chief. At the Portage des Sioux (the point of the to plead for his people when A . dealing with the whites to never sell or sign it away the lands of his people. He was the eldest of — sionary who spent many From his father he and years among the learned to be careful Nez Perce when Indians. would have sustained in my death would have been doubly paid for by the honors of my burial they would have wiped off everything like regretInstead of being covered with a cloud of sorrow. my nation shall know When I return I will echo the the respect that is paid over the dead." said the red orator. Spaulding's school Rev. the rolling music and the thundering cannon. the commissioners This seemed to be a his wonderful oratorical powers."-In early years ment commission were amazed at natural gift land lying between the confluence of the Missouri with the Mississippi) where. : . young Joseph appeared before the governand his lands. they grow (Addressing himself to Governor Edwards and Colonel everywhere. the great chief of the Maha nation. and can not be prevented. and never returned with sorrow or pain. What is past. Standing Elk. should not be grieved for. Hereafter. delivered his historic address over the grave of the Teton chief. — . but this would have attended you perhaps in your own vilbefall you lage. Be not discouraged or displeased then. instead of the chief that lies before us. perhaps) and hoisted on a slender scaffold to the whistling winds. among the Indians. Spaulding was a mis- Oregon about 1840. Chief of the soldiers.eye tells what the tongue would hide ." "Big name often stands on small legs. sound of your guns. when I die at home. and my bones rattled on the plain by the wild beasts. most glorious occurrence. Five times have I visited this land. a treaty was signed which pacified the western Indians. with a flag waving at my head. His early childhood was most likely spent learning the usual war and hunting arts common to his people though he did spend some time at Rev. and all nations and people must obey. Misfortunes do not flourish particularly in our path. in 1815.
skirmish lines and field fortifications." Even that in his last battle he held out for four days against a force out-numbered his two to one and his quiet dignity and for- bearance at the time of his surrender friendship of General Miles. In these places many of the Indians died but this it wasn't until 1885 that the sorry remnant of audacious band was sent to spend the remainder of their lives on the Colville reservation. his men often holding superior forces at bay while a small detachment of them slipped around one side and cut off the enemies' supplies. This retreat was a masterpiece of military strategy. which is usual. live in peace in a . after a slight battle. showed an ability to plan and execute equal to that of many a partisan leader whose deeds have entered this into classic story. and fought with almost scientific skill. that they were part of General Howard's cavalry. he and his people were sent to Fort Leavenworth and later to Baxter Springs. "has terminated "Thus. not far from Henry Lake. his surprise of my camp and capture of over a hundred animals.through the fastness of the Rockies and over the Montana plains nearly to the Canadian border although he took no part in the ."*^ After his surrender. at one time he formed forty of his men in columns of four and in the dusk of early night pulled a surprise attack on Howard's — — ." says General Sherman. won him the respect and to General Miles. His warriors although the Xez Perces had been at peace for years were perfectly trained in all the arts of war in fact. the sentry thinking. massacres that were the immediate cause of the outbreak. O. and. "At the Camas Meadows. did not commit indiscriminate murder of peaceful families. Joseph's night march. The Indians throughout displayed a courage and skill that elicited universal praise they abstained from scalping. using advance and rear guards. Kansas. in northern Washington a country similar to their beloved Valley of the Winding Waters climate that they and a place where they could were accustomed to. making a successful escape. by their orderly formation. Howard in his book about the Nez Perce and Joseph's retreat says of troops — particular instance that. General O. let captive women go free. speaking of Joseph's surrender one of the most extraordinary Indian wars of which there is any record.
Bishop of South Dakota* at I wish that I had words command I I which to express ade- quately the interest with which have read the extraordinary have the privilege of introI narrative which follows. Northwestern Fights and Fighters. ground and fell into his Peaceful ending for the Indian Xeno- Red Napoleon of the West. IV. dreaming perhaps of days of daring and deeds by which. Again it was General Miles the only white man that he believed and trusted who promised him that his people would be un- — — molested in the lands they now occupied. nodding by the of valor. North'tvestern Fights and Fighters. "The other day a gray-headed old chief. Doubleday. slipped quietly to the eternal sleep. page 66o. Brady's book.. name on phon. Harper & Bros. however. this time a friendly visit to the President and his old friend General Miles — for a part of the time during this trip he took part in Cummin's Indian Congress and Life on the Plains during that show's exhibition at the famous Madison Square Garden and a — year after this trip he dropped dead in front of his tepee on Sept. Chief Joseph's With an Introduction by Own in Story the Rt. i886. Brady.For twelve years Chief Joseph in their reservation Hvecl quietly on this reservation but in 1897 becoming alarmed by the encroachments of the whites he again took up the defense of his people. savage though he was. he had written his says : fire. in his book about the Nez Perce War. *Page 40. D. 1870. that this story has been reproduced here. Page and Company. Page & Co. and later in the book. 1904. It is through the gracious permission of Messrs. Rev. D. feel. 22. Returning to the reservation he again settled down to enjoy the peace and quiet of old age. C. P. T.. H. Cyrus Townsend Brady. the the pages of history. and Doubleday. the publish- ."* ^Massacres of the Mountains. Hare. Jr. that this *This story first appeared in The Xorth Aincriccnt Rcviexc for April. by J. this time by going to Washington and pleading with the President. Dunn. Harper and Bros^ the present publishers of ers of The North American Review. Mr. and which ducing to the readers of this Review. making only one more trip. written by Cyrus Townsend Brady. In speaking of his death.
I have no special knowledge of the history of the Nez Pcrces. dor. in its deep sense of eternal righteousness and of present evil.charming naivete and tender it needs no introduction. That he something of a strategist as well as an advocate appears from this description of an event which occurred shortly after the hostilities : breaking out of "We we crossed over Salmon River. much less any authentication while in its smothered fire. even should they be thought by some to be mistaken. that every reader will give him credit for speaking his honest. ex parte. so well known is he for his friendship to the Indian and for his distinguished success in pacifying It is some of the most desperate. Nevertheless. convictions. not by disputation. and got between him and his supplies. General Howard. should be remembered. in his treatment of his defense. We were not disappoint- He did follow us. the days of the Captivity. reminds one of those lawyers of splendid success their lucid is whom we have heard that their was gained. the Indians whose tale of —my from upon sorrow Chief Joseph so pathetically tells Indian missions lying in a part at the their its West quite distant homes —and am not competent to judge their case is. can hardly receive justice at his hands." Occasionally the reader comes upon touches of those sentiments and feelings which at once establish a sense of kinship between all \vhi> possess tlu-ni. too. Howard would follow. and in its hopeful longings for the coming of a better time. and cut him off for three days. tion and he is so careful to qualify his statements. when qualificaseems necessary. this Indian chief's appeal reminds us of one of the old Hebrew prophets of apologia is so boldly marked by the pathos which characterizes the red man. but simply bv and straightforward statement of their case. hoping General ed. merits. Witness . and many of his statements would no doubt be ardently disputed. in justice to the army that it rarely called upon to interfere in Indian aflfairs until the rela- between the Indians and the whites have reached a desiderate and when the situation of affairs has become so involved and feeling on both sides ruias so high that perhaps only more than human forbearance would attempt to solve the difficulty by disentangling the knot and not by cutting it. the chief's narrative is marked by so much cantions condition. for instance. that . The chief. The chief's narrative of course.
says.. them. but . woman. and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit Chief. A man who would not love his father's grave is to the natural rights of worse than a wild animal. father smiled. My I son. . were cut to pieces." But will not detain the readers of the Review from the statement pleasure of perusing for themselves Chief Joseph's longer than is necessary to express the hope that those who have time for no more will at least read its closing paragraph. my horse was wounded. my body is returning to my mother earth. They have on this land. my sell A few more years and their eyes the white men will be all around you. I was not hurt." And again. have been most admired. and told him would protect his grave with my life. the bones of This country holds your father's body^ —never My your father and mother. I took his hand in mine.. He said: 'My son.." he we are unlike in many You are as you were made. then. in our Declaration of Independ- ence. they are just those which. as you are made. "although "We are all sprung from a things. when he speaks of his father's death saw he was dying.' I pressed my father's hand. I My '"I clothes dashed unarmed through the line of soldiers. . ." His appeals man are surprisingly fine. and. I buried him in that beautiful Winding Waters. We are just as we were made by the Great Spirit. I love that land more than all the rest world. why should children of one mother quarrel? Why should one try to cheat another ? I do not believe that the the right to tell Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of kind of men another men what I they must do. and. and you cannot change us. and I resolved to go to With a prayer in my mouth to the Great Spirit Chief who rules above. however some may despise them as the utterance of an In- dian.his description of his desperate attempt to rejoin his wife and chil- dren when a sudden dash of General Miles' soldiers had cut the Indian camp in two. who were now surrounded by soldiers. . and passed valley of of the away to the spirit land. "I thought of my wife and children. and to remark that the narrative brings clearly out these facts which ought to be regarded as well-recognized principles in dealing with the red man . never forget dying words.. you can remain.
in this case. and so it has been Indian chiefs. are really withthe out power. . They do not says : understand each other. Chief Joseph. The failure to recognize this fact has been the source of endless difficulties. and then breaks his word. Hare. not local law. when by march of events they are brought into intimate rela- tions with the whites. as it did General Miles. is The folly of any mode of treatment of the Indian which not based upon a cordial and operative acknowledgment of his rights as 2. in dealing with Indians.. and for this reason. rights. persuasion. from which it results that. explanations. 6. The unwisdom. The absence in an Indian tribe of any truly representative body competent to make a treaty which shall be binding upon all the bands. who know and value their national and are brave enough to defend them. however." 4. . consider a treaty binding which his band had not agreed no matter in how many other bands had many other cases. while many promises are made to the Indians. I cannot understand how the Government sends a man out to fight us. in most cases. 3. Such a Government has something wrong about it. which is apt to be the result of spe- cial legislation adopted solely in the interest of the stronger race. should at the earliest practicable moment be given the supix)rt and protection of our Government and of our law . of riding roughshod over a people The danger who are capable of high enthusiasm. few of them are kept. the Indians. signed it . The liability to want of harmony between different departments and different officials of our complex Government. instead of patient discussion.1. It is a home-thrust when Chief Joseph "The white people have too many chiefs. did not to. as well as others. William H. 5. and reasonable concessions. however able and influential. of what may be termed military short-cuts.. our fellow-man.
What it) is I have to say with a straight tongue. he will have a good home. My father was chief When a young man he was called Joseph by Mr. when some men with white faces came to our country. looking at me. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. thirty-eight winters ago. or his property. without paying for it. if he has been a good man. D. They brought many things with them We *Cliief Joseph's story is presented here not as a matter of historic record or as evidence in the controversv over the facts in connection with the treaty of 185J. I have been asked to to him. (. He advised me well for my people. but Space uill not permit including to give an impression of the character of the man. C. first to break a bargain that it speak only the truth was a disgrace to tell a lie that we should that it was a shame for one man to take . men as they treated us . My name is In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder-traveling-overI the-mountains). if bad man. but it does not require will many words to speak the truth. before me. which they had learned from These laws were good. that we should never be the .cneral Howard's reply which appears in Cyrus Tozcnsend Brady's book. Spaulding. Some of you think an Indian is like a wild animal. a missionary. or in eastern am chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kin band of I was born Oregon. I want the white people to understand my people. and then you can judge whether an Indian is a man or not. he will have a bad home. he has been a all my until did not know there were other people besides the Indians about one hundred winters ago. good name on the earth. He left a Nez Perces (nose-pierced Indians).Chief Joseph's Story Washington. "Northwestern Fights and Fighters. many laws. There was no stain on his hands of the blood of a white man. This I believe. I am glad to have a chance to do so. Our fathers gave us their fathers. that hereafter He will give every man a spirit-home according to his deserts. Chute-pa-lu. and I will speak Ah-cum-kin-i-ma-me-hut (the Great Spir- come from my heart. and people believe the same. They told us to treat all . We were taught to l^elieve that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything. in 1897* show you my heart. This is a great mistake. The white man has more words to tell you how they look Told by him on Jiis trip to My friends. I will tell you all about our people. from another his wife. He died a few years ago. and will hear me. and that He never forgets. I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more." 11 .
The first white men of your people who came to our country were named Lewis and Clarke. and they were learning many things to be good. faith. and they called our people "Nez Perces. taught more bad than good. No white man can accuse It them of bad and speak with a straight tongue.to trade for furs and skins. Some thought they An Indian respects a brave man. and our that our people had never seen. people gave thein a great feast. We had a great many horses of which we gave them what they needed. Spaulding) who talked spirit law. they used signs which people These men were Frenchmen. which was new to us. gave us guns and tobacco in return. has al- ways been the pride of the Nez Perces that they were the friends of the white men. Although very few of our people wear them now. hates a forked tongue. These French trappers said a great many things to our fathers. we are still called by the same name. which have been planted in our Some were good for us. Mr. the affections of our people because he spoke good things until about At first he did not say anything about white men wanting came into to settle on our lands. but he The French trappers told us some truths and some lies." because they wore rings in their noses for ornaments. made farms. This promise the Nez Perces have never broken. All the Nez Perces made friends with Lewis and Clarke. from the white men that the white that seemed men were growing rich very fast. but some were bad. They also brought many things They talked straight. as a proof that their hearts were These men were very kind. and never to make war on white men. At first They thought there was room But we soon found and were greedy enough for all to live in peace. 12 .faced men. and they . He won to them. When my father was a young man there came to our country a white man (Rev. and agreed to let them -pass through their country. understood. They brought tobacco. but he despises a coward. were divided in opinion about these men. l)ut frightened our women and Our people could not talk all with these white. our chiefs and our people made presents to them. He loves a straight tongue. They made presents to friendly. which children. Nothing was said about that twenty winters ago when a number of white people built our country and houses and our people made no com])laiiit. They Ijrought guns with flint-stones on them. Our people hearts.
" : ' sign his treaty. "I will not sign your paper." My father pushed him away and said "Why do you ask me to sign away my covmtry? It is your business to talk to us about spirit matters. but he was firm as the rock. My father was the first to through the schemes of the white men." said. his people to take will claim that no presents. He said there were a great many white people in the country. see than the rest of our people." he .to possess everything" the Indian had. Spaulding took hold of my father's arm and said "Come and sign the treaty. Mr. and in that country they must stay." he accepted pay for your country. not touch it with my hand. and would not sign away his home. that he wanted the land marked out so that the Indians and white men could be separated. and he warned his tribe He had a suspicion of to be careful about trading with them. His refusal caused time four bands of Nez Perces have received annuities a difference among the Nez Perces. "you go where you please. He had sharper eyes but I remember well my father's caution. because he wished to be a free man. jMy father. . for "after awhile. I will not give it up to any man. and then Governor ^ly father cautioned Stevens gave them presents of blankets. Some of the chiefs of the other bands of the Nez Perces signed the treaty. he said. men who seemed so anxious to make money. My people would have no home. they tried hard to make him sign the treaty. If they were to live in peace it was invited Next there came a white all the Nez Perces to a was opened he made known his officer treaty council. and a man could not sell who what was not his own. (Governor Stevens) who After the council heart. and many more would come. you are not a child. and not to talk to us about Governor Stevens urged my father to parting with our land. and United States. I will . Take away your paper." My father left the council. He claimed that no man owned any part of the earth. "they you Since that from the My father was invited to many councils. I was a boy then. necessary. that the Indians should have a country set apart for them. I have no other home than this. so do I am no child I can think for myself. represented his band. refused to have anything to do with the council. I said. but he refused. No man can think for me.
called Eight years later (1863) was the next treaty council. father had we continued to live on this land in peace until eight when white men began to come inside the bounds my set. to sell this land'. but the war- they would not leave our land. That had always Ijelonged to my father's own people. The white man represented that we were going upon They reported many things that were ialse. and some bad blood was raised. We have never accepted presents from the Government. It circles Inside this boundary our people were born. but 1 came hoping that The white man has no right to come here and take our country. I have never sold our In this treaty Lawyer acted without authority from our land. but the Nez Perces country outside the Lapwai Reservation from Lawyer and other years ago. He said to me "When you go into council with the white man. come to this council. father : Indians ever claimed \\ allowa. Neither Lawyer nor any other chief had authority It came It has always belonged to my people. Do not give The white man will cheat you out of your home. The United cil. I said to the agent who held the council "I did not want to we could save blood. A chief Lawyer. In order to have all people understand it how much land we owned. My was not there. country. have taken no pay from the United States. My father had speak for his Government again asked for a treaty counbecome blind and feeble. It was then I took my father's place as chief." He had no right to sell the Wallowa (winding water) band. because he was a great talker. unclouded to them from our fathers. and we will defend this land as long as a drop of Indian blood warms the hearts of our men. will up these graves to any around the graves of our fathers. W'e warned them against this great wrong. and the other bands had never disputed our right to it. took the lead in and sold nearly all of the Xez Perces country. I it away." 14 . and we man. my father planted poles around is and said "Inside the home of my people — the white man all may take the land outside. States I In this council made my first speech to white men." States claimed they had bought all never give The United chiefs. Xo other this council. path. always remember your country. He could no longer people.
My son." I pressed my my father's life. Here they lived. You can keep your presents we can go to your towns and pay for all we need we have plenty of horses and cattle to sell. : saw he was dying. men in Wallowa were doing these things on purpose to get up a war. and I we had peace for awhile. . my body is returning and my spirit is going very soon to see the When I am gone." The agent went away. . think of your country. The white men told lies for each other. for us to go upon the Lapwai Reservation. Great Spirit Chief. my mother earth. I hand and told him that I would protect his grave with ]\Iy father smiled and passed away to the spirit-land. They look to you to guide Always remember that your father never sold his country. A few years more. and your mother. and we are contented and happy if the white man will let us alone.The agent said he had orders. I do not we have plenty. this Soon after to my father sent for me. 15 . I buried him in that beautiful valley of winding waters. all love that land more than the rest of the world. from the Great White Chief at Washington. But this could not last. The reservation is too small for so many people with all their stock. "You must move to the agency. and that if we obeyed he would help us in many ways. They stole a great many horses from us. I took his hand in mine. here are their We will never leave them. is A man who would not love his father's grave worse than a wild animal. Never the bones of your father This country holds your father's body. They knew that we were nt)t strong enough to fight them. and we won't have any help from you we are free now we can go where we please. . and white men will be all around you. forget my sell dying words. here they died. They drove off a great many of our Some white men branded our young cattle so they could cattle. were born here. They have their eyes on this land. He said "My son. and we could not get them back because we were Indians. never are the chief of these people. For a short time we lived quietly." he said. claim them. I answered him: "I will not. White men had found gold in the mountains around the land of the winding water. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. . Our fathers need your help . You them. graves. We had no friend who would plead our cause beIt seemed to me that some of the white fore the law councils.
" I say to him. They have given us no rest. we never sold it. "Pay me the money. we have never refused. . We have had a few good friends among white men. men were tempered. "Joseph. Some of these were good men. this is the way they were bought. and you must let me have them. but the Nez Perces wished to live at peace." The white man returns to me and says. I have bought your horses. and I they have always advised Oiu" young in my people quick- to bear these taunts without fighting. while the white men were many. Nearly every year the agent came over from Lapwai and ordered us on to the reservation. W'c gave up some we could have The white man would not let us alone. the white not all good." If we sold our : lands to the Government. In the treaty councils the commissioners have claimed that our country had been sold to the Government. Through all the years since the white man came to Wallowa we have been threatened and taunted by them and the treaty Nez Perces. I will not sell them. but he refuses to sell. "No. and have had great trouble I keeping them from do- ing rash things. \\'hen the white men were few and we were strong we could have killed them off. and we lived on peaceful terms with them. Suppose a white man should come to me and say. and that we could not hold our own with 16 ." Then he goes to my neighbor. We always replied that we were satWe were careful to refuse the presents isfied to live in Wallowa." My neighbor answers. my horses suit me. "Joseph. Whenever the Government has asked us to help them against other Indians. but they were Perces. We could have avenged our wrongs many times. we have for not been to blame. We were mistaken. and I will sell you Joseph's horses. thinking that then peace. or annuities which he offered.I labored hard to avoid trouble and Ijlood-sbcd. If we have the land not done so. and I want to buy them. I want to buy them. but we did not. since I have carried a heavy load on my back ever was a boy. we ever owned we own it still. I like your horses. We were troubled greatby white men crowding over the line. of our country to the white men. I learned then that wc were but few. On ly account of the treaty made by the other bands of Nez men claimed my lands. and says to him "Joseph has some good horses. If I believe that the old treaty has never been correctly reported.
We are just as we were made by the Great Spirit. but I sent my brother and five other head men to meet him. He had one house full of troops all the time spring the agent at Umatilla Fort Lapwai. and as you were made you can remain. Their country was large. I He said : "I have a great many soldiers at my back. but would hold a council next day." I I intend to make Nez Perces at remonstrated with him against bringing more soldiers to the country. I could not go myself. I said to General Howard but I am no councils." He my brother and all his company should go with him to Fort party arrived there General Howard I Lapwai. going to bring them up here. I have been in a great many to talk today. do you ? You want to dictate to me. when "I am ready he would talk plainly. "We are ready to listen.them. Year after year we have been threatened." Howard replied "You deny my : authority. The next runner to tell me to General right. I will not let white men laugh at me the next time I come. We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit Chief made them." he would not talk then. but no war was made upon my people until General Howard came to our country two years ago and told us that he was the white war-chief of all that country. We had a small country. You are as you were made. although we are unlike We can not be made over again. Howard said : "You have talked straight. They were like grizzly bears. was in that council. and then I will talk to you again. We were like deer. I said to General Howard. Agency sent an Indian meet General Howard at Walla Walla. am The country belongs to the Government. They were not. and would change the rivers and mountains if they did not suit them. in We are all many things. and they had a long talk. When the sent out runners and called the Indians to a grand council. and insisted that it is all You can stay at Wallowa. He answered that : wiser. and you go upon the reservation. sprung from a woman. do you?" 17 . and you can not change us then why should children of one mother and one father quarrel ? why should one try to cheat the other ? I do not believe that the Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of kind of men the right to tell another General men what they must do.
I will take the matter into my own hand. and as He wanted it. then vou have the right to talk as you cil : — — do. I arose and said I don't care whether you arrest me or "I am going to talk now." Too-hul-hul-sote was jM-isoner for five days before he was reGeneral Howard.Then one of my chiefs Too-hul-hul-sote rose in the counand said to General Howard "The Great Spirit Chief made the world as it is." and then ordered a soldier to arrest him. and will put you guard-house." General I Howard in the replied : "You are an impudent fellow. invited to this council to express our hearts. have nothing to take back." The soldiers came forward and seized my friend jmd took him My men whispered among themselves whethto the guard-h(nise. have spoken for country. General Howard would never have I saw the danger and given an unjust order against my men. but we will not resent the insult." General Howard lost his temper and said: "Shut up! I don't want to hear any more of such talk. I do not see where you get authority to say that we shall not live where He placed us. would be killed a : leased. I He I asked General Howard: "Is this your order? I don't care. If I had said nothing. including moment. all I counseled them to submit." Too-hul-hul-sote answered: "Who are you. but you persist in disobeying the law"' (meaning the treaty). that you ask us to talk. but you can not change me or make me take back what I have said. and then tell me I shan't talk ? Are you the Great Spirit ? Did you make the world ? Did you make the sun ? Did you make Did you make the grass to the rivers to run for us to drink? grow ? Did you make all these things that you talk to us as though we were boys? If vou did. and He made a part of it for us to live upon. 18 . "The arrest of Too-hulI turned to my people and said not. I have expressed my my heart to you. while they dragged Too-hul-hul-sote to prison. er they I would if let this thing be done. The law says you shall go upon the reservation to live." We were hul-sote was wrong. knew we resisted that the white in men present. and make you sufifer for your disobedience. and I want you to do so. You can arrest me. and we have done so. and we would be blamed. "If you do not move. Too-hul-hul-sote made no resistance.
"If want to and move on to the reservation. and that I had no land I did not want my I did not want bloodshed. and found no good land men who do not lie that sent a letter that night telling the soldiers at Howard to Walla Walla return home. and drive us out upon our In the council next day General spirit that Howard informed us in a he would give my people thirty days to go back home. and again said I wanted no war." : I said "W^ar can be avoided and it ought to be avoided. ing. collect all their stock. haughty go to Wallowa Valley. will give was already General Howard. and all your time will I fall into the hands of the white and horses outside of the reservation men. I wanted the people who lived upon the lands I was to occupy at Lapwai to have time to gather their knew . Some of my people had been murdered by white men. I will not now. My people have always been the friends of the white man. and will send my soldiers to drive you on." : We General rode all unoccupied." hunt our stock and gather our supplies for the the time run over one General Howard cattle replied. Why are you in such a hurry ? I can not get ready to move in thirty days. Our stock is scattered. people killed. pointthat "If you will come on to the reservation. I have never taken what did not belong to me. "If you let day. It would be wrong to disturb these people. I did not want anybody killed. As we rode along we came ing to this land. and Snake River is very high. said : some good land occupied by Indians and white people. We want time winter. to On the next Howard came my lodge." at that had never sold my country.The council broke up that day. and invited to me to morning General go with him and White Bird and Looking Glass. I shall consider that you fight. I have been informed by day upon the reservation. I in Lapwai but harvest. Let us wait until to fall. and the white murderers were never punished for it. then the river will be low. 19 . the soldiers will be there to drive you on to the reservation. sayyou are not here in that time. I want no war. I told General Howard about this. to look for land for my people." I replied "No. I have no right to take their home. I you these lands and move these people ofif.
and made an attempt move. We Again I counseled peace. General Howard refused to allow I move my people and their stock.my would give up I would give up everything rather than have the blood of white men upon the hands of my people. He declared that blood alone would wash out the disgrace General Howard had put upon him. leaving the council to that the : All the lodges were moved except my brother's and I my own. I saw clearly that the war was upon us when 20 learned that my . he left the council calling for revenge. would rather give up my father's grave. we lost several hundred All my people suc- ceeded in getting across together in Many of the Nez Perces came I went with all There was a great deal of war talk and a great deal of excitement. who felt outraged by his imprisonment. and in crossing the river. We left many of our horses and cattle in Wallowa. and made many of my young men willing to fight from the land where they were born. talked for war. mediately to avoid bloodshed. rather than be driven like dogs We to gathered all the stock we could find. but we intended to do so as soon as possible. my people. and I thought the danger was past. I was kill beef for my family when news came young man whose father had been killed had gone out with several hot-blooded young l)raves and killed four white men. rather than have war I country. in safety. This council lasted ten days. me more than thirty am sure that he began found days to to pre- pare for war at once. and not to begin a war. I said in my I heart that. This man's blood was l)ad against white men and Rocky Canon to hold a grand council. It required a strong heart to stand up against such talk. We held a council. He rode up to the council and shouted "Why do you sit here like women? The war has begun already. When excited I returned to Wallowa I my people very much upon discovering that the soldiers were already in the Wallowa Valley. There was one voung brave present whose father had 1)een killed bv a' White man five years before. but I urged my people to be quiet. and decided to move imToo-hul-hul-sote." T was deeply grieved. had not complied with General Howard's order because we could not.
but I ask. Before the war commenced we had discussed this matter all over. but it my father sleeps there. I saw that the war could The time had passed. He tried hard to prevent bloodshed. My friend and brother. I would have given white my own I life if I I could have undone the my young men and blame General Howard for not giving my people time to get their stock away from Wallowa. I deny that either our land. I counseled peace from the beginning. . against taking the war-path. . all my people. land. had succeeded in organizing a war party. I left there. It I my love father or myself ever sold that It is still may never again be our home. and they talked of their wrongs until they roused all Still I could not believe that they the bad hearts in the council.young men had been that secretl}- buying ammunition. they were homeless and desperate. added to all this. 21 . Who was first to blame ? They had been insulted a thousand times their fathers and brothers had been killed their mothers and wives had been disgraced. but I knew that war would bring more. hoping to avoid bloodshed. We had many grievances. We hoped the white settlers would not join the soldiers. and as I love my mother. who has been with us since the surrender. We had good white friends. I knew that Too-hul-hul-sote. Chapman. . and many of my people were in favor of warning them that if they took no part against us they should not be molested in the event of war being begun by General Howard. blame blame the white men. I know that my young men did a great wrong. I knew that we were too weak to fight the United States. . who advised us their acts would involve not then be prevented. told us just how the war would end. I do not blame him for doing so. I do not acknowledge that he had the right to order me to leave Wallowa at killing of I men by my people. Mr. they had been driven to madness by the whiskey sold to them by the white men they had been told by General Howard that all their horses and cattle which they had been unable to drive out of Wallowa were to fall into the hands of white men and. This plan was voted down in the war-council. I heard then who had been imprisoned by General Howard. There were bad men among my people who had quarreled with white men. Mr. would begin the war. any time. Chapman took sides against us and helped General Howard.
could see no other way to avoid a war. and He sent out two companies to open cut him oE for three days. We loss lost four killed men and several wounded. W^e crossed over Salmon River. two guides. We moved over to White Bird Creek. ing General Howard would follow. W^e were not disappointed. there would have been no war. sixteen miles away. but they had got fighting enough for that day. We withdrew. bringing seven hundred more soldiers. and ten men. kill . We killed four and wounded seven or eight. buffalo country without fighting. they are wounded and left upon the battlefield. About his rear. nor Soldiers do not kill many Indians unless in killing wounded men. IMy friends among white men have blamed me for the war. Still I would have taken my people to the If General my stock. and next day we attacked them again. intending to collect our stock before leaving. and had seven wounded. He did follow us. and was renewed next morning. this time General Howard found out that we were fifty in Five days later he attacked us with three hundred and fifty soldiers riors. my heart was hurt. They intrenched themselves. he only shoots to but soldiers shoot at random. When my young men began the killing. General Howard's killed and sixty wounded. Seven days after the first battle General Howard arrived in Nez Perces country. I if possible. They lost thirty-three killed. and settlers. We had two hundred and war- The fight lasted twenty-seven hours. None W^e do not believe in scalping. but the soldiers attacked us and the first battle was fought. the the wav. We numbered in that battle sixty men. and we got between him and his supplies. When an Indian fights. Although I did not justify them. I am not to blame. killing one officer.Howard had given me plenty of time to gather up and treated Too-hul-hul-sote as a man should be treated. and there encamped. hopIt was now war in earnest. I remembered all the insults I had endured. We attacked them. Then they kill Indians. when the soldiers retreated before us for twelve miles. and the soldiers a hundred. and my blood was on fire. The fight lasted but a few minutes. of the soldiers were scalped. 22 was twenty-nine . The battle lasted all day. hoping the soldiers would follow.
but we finally drove Gen- eral Gibbon back. and we refew miles. or taken them prisoners. all over. but my men had cap- tured them and all all the ammunition. That night the break one of diers surrounded our camp. We intended go peaceably to the buffalo country. Some of my men crept around and attacked the soldiers from the rear. the big guns we could. "You can not get by us. which they were. We remained long enough 23 bury our dead. and at the end of two days we saw three white men passing our camp. The new white warchief's name was Gibbon. understanding we traveled on for four days. I have since learnsoldiers my men ed that these soldiers were not those we had left behind. We damaged lead. and. we retreated to Bitter Root Valley. We had a hard fight. "We are going by you without fighting We then if you will let us. leaving eighty General Howard's hands. we did not molest them. but we are going by you anyhow. The . He charged upon us while some of my people were still asleep." made a treaty with these soldiers. Finding that we were outnumbered. Here another body of soldiers came upon us and demanded our surrender." We answered. They had come upon us from another direction. In this battle we lost nearly all our lodges. and carried away the powder and In the fight with General Gibbon fighting we lost fifty women and to children and thirty men. About daywent out to look after his horses. but we did not suspect them of being spies. Thinking that peace had been made. and leave the question of returning to our country to be settled afterward. Finding that he was not able to capture us. We agreed not to molest any one and they agreed that we might pass through the Bitter Root country in peace. We refused. We could have killed. They said. he sent to his camp a few miles away for his big guns (cannons).The following day lodges to fall into the soldiers charged treated with our families and stock a upon us. we stopped and prepared We started again. We to understood that there was to be no war. With this thinking that the trouble was tent-poles to take with us. We bought provisions and traded stock with white men there. The solsaw him and shot him down like a coyote.
or Gibbon. A few days later we captured two more white men. that wo had encountered within sixty days. but another new warWe held him in check while we moved danger. We had no knowledge of General Miles' army until a short time before he made a charge u)iiin us. and captured nearly all and mules (about two hundred and fifty head). cutting our camp in two. and told him that he was free. and began to struck us. we would feel do so cowardly an We never scalp our enemies. when another army. We had repulsed each in turn. did not order this great their Indian scouts have been told that General to be done. leaving a few Several women and children and stock out of men to cover our retreat. or Sturgis.Xez Perces never make war on women and have killed a great but children many women and ashamed to children while the act. them at the end of three days. days passed. . but when General I Howard came dug up our up and joined General Gibbon. marched on to the Yellowstone Basm. but horses and mules. dead and scalped them. and we heard nothing of Generals Howall our ard. chief we supposed did not had sent for more (General Sturgis) attacked us. Howard shame We try. 24 . under General Miles. of the Yellowstone. We then way we captured one white man and two white women. feel secure. tell me of one time when Indian women were taken prisoners. retreated as rapidly as After six days General we could toward the buffalo counHoward came close to us. and we his horses went out and attacked him. We gave the other a poor horse Nine days" march brought us to the mouth of Clarke's Fork of We He did not know what had become that he General Howard. One of them stole a horse and escaped. Can the white soldiers kindly. come up. This was the fourth army. we could war lasted. the On We released and held three days and then released without being insulted? Were the Nez Perces women who fell into the hands of General Howard's soldiers treated with as much respect? I deny that a Nez Perce was ever guilty of such a crime. each of which outnum- bered our fighting force. They were treated The women were not insulted.
Bull I said he wondered whether General Miles was answer. is I have not seen her well. before and behind me. leaving their dead in our hands. were cut years of age. the first day and lost men and three women. that A little I later scouts with another message. pieces and my horse was wounded. It seemed to me that thought of my wife and children. I walked on General Miles' 25 He met me . to say that General Yellow Bull understood the messenger Miles wished to kill to consider the situation . and I resolved to go to them or die. lodge. They General to Miles was sincere and really tent. that he did not want this my this people unnecessarily. my men main to drive them back. Upon re- porting message to me. We se- cured their arms and ammunition. and drove the soldiers back upon night. off. there were clothes guns on every to I side. With a prayer in my mouth to the Great Spirit Chief who rules above. said they believed went out meet them. and told her to catch a horse and join the others who were I cut off from the camp. I called Nez who fell inside our lines. eighteen We The lost. I my camp under protection of a white sent my me friend Yellow Bull to meet him. About seventy men. for Yellow Bull understood to be a demand me to surrender and save blood. their line. little myself among them. General Miles twenty-six killed and forty wounded. wanted peace. my wife handed me my killed in saying: "Here's your gun.and capturing nearly all r)f our horses. Yellow in earnest. Fight!" The soldiers kept up a continuous Six of my men were one spot near me. Ten or twelve soldiers charged into killing three our camp and got possession of two lodges. following day General Miles sent a messenger into flag. twelve gave her a rope. but was not As reached the door of my fire. rifle. I dashed unarmed through the line of soldiers. not more than twenty steps apart. I My daughter. but would think about he sent some Cheyenne to and send word soon. We fought at close range. Perces and losing three of their men. but have learned that she alive I and who were now surrounded by soldiers. since. My I were cut hurt. was with me. that itj sent him back with my I had not made up my mind.
"Come. let us sit down by the I remained with him all night fire and talk this matter over. No great damage was done to either party durafraid they will never : am ing the night. I will spare your lives do not know what and send you back to the reservation. and children behind. The battle was renewed while I knew I was very anxious about my people. plain words. that we were near Sitting Bull's camp in King George's land. let General Miles would not alone. but It will do no good if they kill me you must not kill the officer. we had lost enough already." Yellow Bull returned to my camp. I did not make any agreement that day with General Miles. I have an officer in our camp." next morning. he has been censured for making the jjromise to return us to 26 General Miles had . General Howard came in We with a small escort. meeting the rendering." I said "I do not know what they mean to do with me. Aly people were divided about sur- could have escaped from Bear Paw Mountain our wounded. On camp if the following morning I returned to my camp by agree- ment. We we had left On the evening of the fourth day. and I thought maybe the Nez Perces who had escaped would return with assistance. General Miles said to me in could talk now understandingly. I believed General I have heard that Miles. and I will hold him until they let you go free. together with my friend Chapman. "If you will come out and give up your arms.and we shook hands. 1 thought wc could start again. you go again. I could not bear to see my wounded men and women suffer any longer. or I never would have surrendered. me leave the tent to see my friend Yellow Bull said and I to me : "They have got you let in their power. Yellow Bull came over to see if I was alive. I was with him. We were unwilling to do this. officer who had been held a prisoner in my at the flag of truce. He said. and why I did not return. old women. Wc had never heard of a wounded Indian recovering while in the hands of white m^n. to avenge my death by killing him. promised that wc might return to our couiUry with what stock we had left." I passed between General Miles and General Howard.
We had always lived in a healthy country. I believe General Miles so. Tongue River now stands I will fight no more. and Many of our people I we buried them in this strange land. "From where told the sun My people needed rest I —we wanted peace. be cheaper there. sickened and died. He said : "You have endeavored to keep my word. Lapwai. T. I would carry out the order. B. We had nothing to say about it.' people while at who rules above to be looking some other way. He I that time. since the surrender. The Great can not tell my set. General Miles turned my people over to another soldier. General Miles was opposed to this order. Some other officer must not blame me.could not have made any other terms with me at would have held him in check until my friends c-ame to my assistance.* heart suffered for Spirit Chief how much my Leavenworth. On and the fifth day I went to General Miles and gave up my gun. received an order to take us to Fort Leavenworth. I sazi- them there often. when we would be sent back to our country." was we could go with General Miles to and stay there until spring. At Leavenworth we were placed in on a low river bottom. and then neither of the generals nor their soldiers would have ever left Bear Paw Mountain alive." would have kept his word if he could do not blame him for what we have suffered We gave I do not know who is to blame. said. with no water except river water to drink and cook with. who now had charge of us. I have done — — — Somebody has got our horses. Finally it was decided that we were to be taken to Tongue River. — C. That would do you no good. where the mountains were high and the water was cold and clear. and did not seemed what was being done to my "/ people. After our arrival at Tongue River. and we were taken to Bismarck. corroborate can this. Captain Johnson. up all our horses over eleven hundred and all our saddles over one hundred and we have not heard from them since. General Miles received orders to take The reason given was that subsistence would us to Bismarck. 27 . but the chief who is over me has given the order. and I must obey it or resign.
The him and land place Commissioner Chief (Mr. 28 promised Chief Hayt to . go there. 1878) we received notice that we to be moved farther away from our own country. I am afraid they will all I die. They do not talk alike. is There are no mountains and rivers. The Commissioner Chief (E. The water I do not believe not a good country for stock. that out. The Indians who occupy that country are dying otT. my people can there. We were moved Territory and set died since from Baxter Springs (Kansas) lodges. It was worse to die there than to die fighting were in the mountains. for it is not a good place to live. but I could not help myself." This talk fell like a heavy stone upon my heart. We to see us. A. live Some have had a great many visitors who have talked many of the chiefs (General Fish and Colonel Stickney) from Washington came upon. I saw that I Other law chiefs could not gain anything by talking to him. that country and I the land was taken up. I did not The white people have too many chiefs. I expected General Miles' word it would be carried white men now if lived in He my said "could not be done all . and that the Government could not protect my people. as I to see us. Osage Reservation) it we I found (west of the have seen better than any It is that country. but is not a healthy land. (Congressional Committee) came to see us and said they would that law-papers help lieve. We ways. me to get a healthy country. I was not satisfied. and do the best I could until the Government got ready to make good General Miles' word. Hayt) invited hunt for a better in me to I go with like the home than we have now. could not live in peace. were out against my young men who began the war. Three of my people died on the way to Baxter Springs. We had but little medicine and we were nearly Seventy of my people have we moved there. and selected land for us to have not moved to that land. We were ordered to get into the railroad cars. live warm.During the hot days (July. to the Indian down without our all sick. know whom to They do be- not understand each other. I returned to Wallowa. Hayt) came told him. I told every one. that. We were not asked if we were willing to go.
I have shaken hands with a great many friends. Give them the Give them all an even chance to live and grow. many and promise so many different (the . why so many chiefs are allowed to talk so things. They do not protect my father's grave. Good words will not give me back my children. now overrun by white men. Good words will not make good the promise of your War Chief. but while their mouths all talk right I do not understand talk. heard talk and last but nothing Good words do not long until they amount to something. take care of themselves. I have seen the Great Father Chief President) the next Great Chief (Secretary of the Interior) the Commissioner Chief (Hayt) that I . If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace. in the to the Great Chief in Washington. and many other law chiefs (Congressmen). and have shall justice. xA. They do not pay for my horses and cattle. Words do not pay for They do not pay for my country. It all my I am makes my heart sick when and the broken promises. and then breaks Such a Government has something wrong about it. as it did General Miles. Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. ing.t last I I can not understand different ways. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and dead people. men were 29 . why nothing is is done for done. All same law. but there are some things I want to know which no one seems able to explain. too tween the talk.Then the Inspector Chief (General McNiel) came to my camp and we had a long talk. was granted permission to come to Washington and bring my friend Yellow Bull and our interpreter with me. the Law have Chief (General Butler). . He said I ought to have a home mountain country north. Too many misrepresentations many misunderstandings have come up bewhite men about the Indians. his word. Treat all men alike. I and they all say they are my friends. I am glad we came. comes to nothremember all the good words There has been too much talking tired of talk that I by men who had no right to have been made. General Miles. and that he would write a letter Again the hope of seeing the mountains of Idaho and Oregon grew up in my heart. my people. all There need be no trouble. I can not understand how the Government sends a man out to fight us.
They are all brothers. I try. do you expect he will grow fat? If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth. If the white man breaks him also. with one sky above us and one country around the Great Spirit Chief us. all only ask of the Government to be treated as If I other men are treated. as that any You might as well expect the rivers to man who was born a free man should him to stay there. then Whenever we the white shall treats the Indian as they treat each have no more wars. Let me be a free man — free I to travel. I would There my people would be to go to Bitter Root Valley. since I left my camp to come to Washington. punish him the law. free to trade. where ers. sees he while in one place. The earth is the mother of all people. free to stop. free to think and to talk and act for myself —and man will obey every law. say to the Indian that he shall stay to authority they get their white men going where they please. free to choose my own teach- follow the religion of my fathers. We only ask an even chance to men live. where they are now they are dying. let me have a home like some country where my people will not die so fast. punish In- the law. Three have died healthy.made by the same Great Spirit Chief. in can not go to my own home. of When I think of our condition my heart is heavy. other. We all ask that the same law shall work alike on men. They can not I tell me. and send rain to wash out the bloody spots 30 made by brother^' . If the Indian breaks the law. or sul^mit the penalty. or shot know my race must change. free to I choose. I see men my race treated as outlaws and driven from country to coundown that like animals. free to work. We shall be all alike brothers of one father and one mother. We ask to be recognized as men. an4 all people should have equal rights upon it. run backward be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We can not hold our own with the white live as other men as we are. who rules above will smile and one government for all. and compel he will not be contented nor will he grow and some of the great white chiefs where asked I have prosper. Then upon this land. If you tie a horse to a stake.
are waiting and praying. . and that all people may be one people. Young Joseph.hands upon the face of the earth.51 . In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat has spoken for his people. For this time the Indian race I hope that no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?