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