The Surrender of Chief Joseph -- 10/5/1877


On October 5th of June 1877, greater than 1 month following the amazing Lakota Chief Crazy Horse was killed, Chief Joseph, also a famed Chief of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce tribe, surrendered to U.S. Troops, following a heart wrenching pursuit of almost 1,200 miles that stopped nearly three hundred meters short of the Canadian border. This is what became known as the Nez Perce war.  

Chief Joseph had planned to seek asylum using Lakota Chief Sitting Bull, who had already escaped to Canada, but would be made to come back to the usa. In 1863, the U.S. Government requested the Nez Perce to accept a much smaller piece of property, in exchange for schools and hospitals being assembled, as well as financial benefits. A few Nez Perce Chiefs signed the new treaty, although others (including Chief Joseph the Elder) did not. That resulted in a rift between the treaty Indians, who entered into the land area that was smaller. Chief Joseph was created Hinmuuttu Yalatlat in northeastern Oregon, someplace in 1840. In English, his name intended Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain. Subsequently Joseph the Elder surrounded the Wallowa valley with markers and signs that stated "Inside this border, all our people were born. It circles that the graves of our fathers, and we will never give these up graves to some other man." His father, Joseph the Elder, signed a treaty in 1855, which split Indian lands and settlement lands. The land occupied parts of Idaho, eastern Washington, and eastern Oregon. Joseph the Elder made his son (Joseph the Younger) claim to not sell this property, and to safeguard his father's burial site in any respect costs. Joseph the Younger became the pioneer of the Wallowa band of Nez Perce, as his father lay dying. Yet again, his father made him promise to guard the graves of his parents (in other words, do not sell the property). A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild beast." Chief Joseph went on to lead his Wallowa band through the portion of their background, as they were increasingly ravaged by American lands. As an example of reprisal by the American army, Chief Joseph might not permit any violence, but preferring to simply give into the demands possible. Despite his reputation for pacifism all of Nez Perce have been forced to move into the bigger land area in Idaho Territory.

Chief Joseph died, still in exile. His doctor recorded the reason for death as "a broken heart." Ultimately, on October 5th of 1877, Chief Joseph surrendered. Ultimately, Chief Joseph and his band of approximately 750 men outmaneuvered that the United States Army for more than three months. Their traveling took them through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana's rocky terrain.

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