The Nez Percé tribe was one of the most powerful in the Pacific Northwest and in the first half of the 19th century one of the most friendly to whites. Many Nez Percé, including Chief Joseph’s father, were converted to Christianity and Chief Joseph was educated in a mission school.
His name lives on in the Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River, Chief Joseph Pass in Montana, and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway in Wyoming. Most poignantly, it lives on in the places he loved best: Joseph Creek, Joseph Canyon and the small town of Joseph, Oregon, in the heart of the Wallowa Valley.
The leader of one band of the Nez Perce people, Chief Joseph was born Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt in 1840 in the Wallowa Valley in what is now Oregon.
Although celebrated for his skill in battle, Joseph worked tirelessly for peace with U.S. government authorities. In 1877, under the threat of forced removal from his traditional homelands in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley, Joseph reluctantly began leading his followers toward a reservation in Idaho.
Haruo Aoki (1989: 16) notes that Chief Joseph “spoke in the Nez Perce language. His words had to be translated into English by an interpreter, who in all likelihood was Arthur Chapman [a white man who knew Nez Perce].
Chief Joseph—as non-Natives knew him—had been elected chief of the Wallowa band of Nez Perce Indians when he was only 31. For six difficult years the young leader struggled peacefully against the whites who coveted the Wallowa’s fertile land in northeastern Oregon.
Chief Joseph was a Nez Perce leader who led his tribe called the Wallowa band of Nez Perce through a treacherous time in United States history. These indigenous people were natives to the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. Chief Joseph was a powerful advocate for his people’s rights to remain on their homeland.
Sitting Bull, Lakota Tatanka Iyotake, (born c. 1831, near Grand River, Dakota Territory [now in South Dakota], U.S.—died December 15, 1890, on the Grand River in South Dakota), Teton Dakota Indian chief under whom the Sioux peoples united in their struggle for survival on the North American Great Plains. 5
“ I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.” “It does not require many words to speak the truth.” “The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”
Chief Joseph was documented wearing his deerskin war shirt not once, but twice: first, in an 1877 photograph taken by John Fouch just after the Nez Perce had surrendered to U.S. soldiers in Montana. The shirt is of the classic sleeved poncho type, made of two soft thin skins, probably deerskin.
Geronimo, Indian name Goyathlay (“One Who Yawns”), (born June 1829, No-Doyohn Canyon, Mex. —died Feb. 17, 1909, Fort Sill, Okla., U.S.), Bedonkohe Apache leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who led his people’s defense of their homeland against the military might of the United States.