Chief Joseph

  • Leader
  • Born 1840
  • Died September 21, 1904

Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (or Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it in Americanist orthography), popularly known as Chief Joseph, Young Joseph, or Joseph the Younger (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904), was a leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce, a Native American tribe of the interior Pacific Northwest region of the United States, in the latter half of the 19th century. He succeeded his father Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) in the early 1870s. Chief Joseph led his band of Nez Perce during the most tumultuous period in their history, when they were forcibly removed by the United States federal government from their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon onto a significantly reduced reservation in the Idaho Territory.

I am tired of talk that comes to nothing.

War can be avoided, and it ought to be avoided. I want no war.

I saw that the war could not be prevented. The time had passed.

I pressed my father's hand and told him I would protect his grave with my life. My father smiled and passed away to the spirit land.

I hope that no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.

We soon found that the white men were growing rich very fast, and were greedy.

Words do not pay for my dead people.

From where the sun now stands I will fight no more.

General Howard informed me, in a haughty spirit, that he would give my people 30 days to go back home, collect all their stock, and move onto the reservation.

My father... had sharper eyes than the rest of our people.

Some of you think an Indian is like a wild animal. This is a great mistake.

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.

An Indian respects a brave man, but he despises a coward.

The Indian race are waiting and praying.

All men were made by the Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers.

I said in my heart that, rather than have war, I would give up my country.

When my young men began the killing, my heart was hurt.

I saw clearly that war was upon us when I learned that my young men had been secretly buying ammunition.

We had a great many horses, of which we gave Lewis and Clark what they needed, and they gave us guns and tobacco in return.

We damaged all the big guns we could, and carried away the powder and the lead.

I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done.

I labored hard to avoid trouble and bloodshed.

Lawyer acted without authority from our band. He had no right to sell the Wallowa country.

I only ask of the government to be treated as all other men are treated.

It required a strong heart to stand up against such talk, but I urged my people to be quiet and not to begin a war.

If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace.

You might as well expect rivers to run backwards as any man born free to be contented penned up.

Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them an even chance to live and grow.

I know that my race must change.

I want the white people to understand my people.

It does not require many words to speak the truth.

For a short time we lived quietly. But this could not last. White men had found gold in the mountains around the land of winding water.

We had good white friends who advised us against taking the war path. My friend and brother, Mr. Chapman, told us just how the war would end.

The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.

My father was the first to see through the schemes of the white man.

We gathered all the stock we could find, and made an attempt to move. We left many of our horses and cattle in Wallowa. We lost several hundred in crossing the river.