> Chief Joseph > Part 4
Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians (Cont'd)
The Nez Perce realized their plight and decided to head north
out of the park. They ascended Pelican Creek, headed on to the
Lamar River and eventually threaded the Absaroka Range to Clark
Fork River and on to the Yellowstone itself, a difficult trek..
A rearguard of warriors ran into more parties of Yellowstone tourists,
killed two of them, and burned a ranch, adding to the charges
leveled against the Nez Perce for not coming into the reservation
back in Idaho on time.
Illustration 9: “Sketches
of the Nez Perce War,” Harpers’ Weekly, Oct.
22, 1877. Collection of W. R. Swagerty.
Once in Crow country, the Nez Perces’ hopes of living
among their buffalo-hunting friends were shattered when the Crow
denied help, fearing the U. S. Army would turn against them as
well. And so they pressed on. After crossing the Musselshell,
they passed through the Judith Basin and finally reached the Missouri
River, deciding at some point to make a run for Canada to live
among the Sioux under Sitting Bull who had been there since the
end of the Little Big Horn campaign the year before.
Map 12: from Bill Gulick,
Chief Joseph Country, p. 277, courtesy of The Caxton Printers,
By late September, a weary group of survivors struggled to reach
the Canadian border, only forty miles away. They hoped to find
refuge there with Sitting Bull’s exiles, who had been given
temporary sanctuary by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after
the Battle of Little Big Horn. A final battle near the Bear’s
Paw Mountains held off U. S. troops long enough for some Nez Perce
to escape to Canada. Sixty women, eight children, and 103 men
under the charge of Chief White Bird eluded detection and slipped
across the border. On October 5, with Ollokot and Looking Glass
dead, Joseph was left in the main leadership position. Chief Joseph
surrendered himself, 86 other men, 184 women, and 147 children,
with a pledge from U. S. officials that his people could spend
the winter on Tongue River and return to Idaho in the spring to
live on their reservation in peace. It was at this point that
Joseph was photographed for the first time.
Photo 15: “Chief Joseph,”
photographs taken by John Fouch, a local
photographer operating in the Tongue River country
shortly after his surrender, October, 1877. Courtesy National
Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History,
Smithsonian Institution. Neg. # 2905-A-2. [note: these are
considered the first photographs taken of Joseph. On the
left he wears a striped Hudson’s Bay Company trade
blanket and a store-bought shirt with a traditional choker
around his neck and braids. On the right he wears a Nez
Perce hide shirt, elaborately fringed and decorated with
porcupine quills. Joseph is in grief, but he is not a broken
Shortly after these first photographs were
taken, the Nez Perce were taken to Bismarck, North Dakota. Another
photograph was taken by O. S. Goff, whose camera captured Joseph
wearing the same neck choker as in the first photograph, but he
has an embroidered shirt and bandalier across his shoulder, much
more typical of Indians of the Great Lakes region than the Northwest.
Photos like this were sold as souvenirs by frontier photographers,
eager to make money on heroes and “villains” of the
Indian Wars of the West.
Photo 16: “Chief
Joseph.” Three photographers have been credited
with this photograph, but it is likely that Orlando S.
Goff actually took it. Courtesy National Anthropological
Archives, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Institution, Neg. # 43201-A
The promise made by General Howard was broken.
For the next eight years, Joseph and most of his people remained
prisoners-of-war in Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma), where
many died of disease and despondency. The place is still remembered
to this day as “Eeikish Pah,” or “The Hot Place”
and is thought of as a time of imprisonment. Joseph made several
trips back to Washington, D.C. and to New York City on behalf
of his people, the first in 1879. He dictated his own account
of the Nez Perce War hoping to draw sympathy and support from
those in power, but the government did not move quickly on his
Photo 17: Chief
Joseph in Washington, D.C., 1879. Charles Milton Bell
photographer. Courtesy National Anthropological Archives,
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution,
Neg. # 2906.
Finally, in 1885, the Nez Perce in “The
Hot Place” were allowed to return to the Northwest. Those
who had converted to Christianity were allowed to return to Idaho,
but those who continued to practice the old ways were exiled to
Washington State. Joseph and 150 of his non-Christian band were
sent to the Colville Reservation in central Washington, where
the chief lived out the rest of his life traveling and speaking
on behalf of his people.
Map 12: “Relative
Locations of Colville and Nez Perce Reservations, 1885,”
from Bill Gulick, Chief Joseph Country, p. 281. Courtesy
of The Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho.
At Colville, Joseph had a log cabin, but he
preferred the old way of living in tipis and mat lodges. His camp
was photographed many times and became a classroom for younger
Nez Perce and white friends to learn the old ways and to hear
stories of the Nez Perce War.
Photo 18: Joseph’s
“longcamp” at Nespelem, Washington. Edward
H. Latham, photographer, 1901. Courtesy National Park
Service, Nez Perce National Historic Site, Spalding, Idaho.
Neg. # 66.
Joseph died, age sixty-four in September, 1904. His burial was
a major event in the area. Many speeches were given and his white
admirers had a large tombstone erected, complete with his image
carved on the stone. It remains today at the cemetery in Nespelem,
Washington on the Colville Reservation.
Some authors state that by the time of his death, Joseph had a
total of nine children, but we will never really know how many
boys and girls he took in due to Nez Perce customs of caring for
orphans and those in need from other families. One son reported
to have been Joseph’s was “Otto,” who was photographed.
Photo 19: “Otto,
son of the Nez Perce’s Chief Joseph” courtesy
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Neg. # 56601.
It is generally thought that all but one of his own girls died
before reaching adulthood. The daughter Kap-kap-on-mi from his
second marriage survived the Nez Perce War by fleeing with Chief
White Bird to Canada. When she returned, she changed her name
to Sarah. In 1879, Sarah married George Moses, but they had no
children and she never saw her father again. Her mother survived
to 1929, dying in Nespelem on the Colville Reservation. Joseph’s
nieces produced direct descendants, who still identify as the
Joseph Band of the Nez Perce at Colville. Today they bear the
proud legacy of Joseph and have surnames that include the Red
Thunder, Half Moon, and Red Star families. In 1972, A United States
postage stamp was struck in Chief Joseph’s honor. Three
generations of his descendants through one niece attended the
ceremony in Washington, D.C. and are shown in the photo below:
Photo 20: Ceremony
unveiling the “Chief Joseph Stamp” 1972. Photograph
by Harry Newfield, Courtesy National Anthropological Archives,
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
Neg. # 72-8411
10: Chief Joseph. United States Postage stamp, original
art by James E. Doak, 1972. Collection of the author.
A second U. S. postage stamp was released as part of
the series, "Legends of the West" in 1993.
11: “Legends of the West” in 1993. “Legends
of the West Series,” United State Postal Service,
12: Close-Up. 2nd “Chief Joseph Stamp.”
The back of the stam reads:
13: [Scan of the back of the 2nd stamp]