Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chief Joseph

It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death.  My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food.  No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death.  I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find.  Maybe I shall find them among the dead.  Hear me, my Chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad.  From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

When he was unable to persuade the U.S. government to allow his tribe to remain on their land in the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon, the magnificent Chief Joseph led his tribe of 800 Nez Perce Indians on a 1300-mile journey across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, fighting 13 battles and outmaneuvering 2000 American cavalrymen for over three months in hopes of reaching the Canadian border.  

The Nez Perce, who were within 40 miles of their goal, were without food and blankets when the 7th Cavalry caught up to them in what is now Blaine County, Montana.  After a five-day battle during freezing weather, Chief Joseph -- his real name was Hinmaton-Yalaktit, which means "Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain" -- surrendered to Colonel Nelson Miles on this date in 1877.  His surrender marked the end of the last great campaign between an Indian nation and the U.S. government.

Chief Joseph

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