Friday 6 November 2015

Chief Joseph's Surrender Speech

Route of Chief Joseph and Nez Perce tribe courtesy

After a fierce battle between the Indians and the Whites, where the Indians had incurred many fatalities, Chief Joseph was tired of fighting.  The American government gave the Chief and his Nez Perce tribe the ultimatum:  move onto the reserve or face retribution.  Chief Joseph, desiring peace, agreed.  However, some of his tribesmen didn't agree and killed four white men.  Facing a backlash, Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce tribe travelled 1700 miles seeking amnesty in Canada, with the American Army at their heals.  About 40 miles from the Canadian border, on October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph was outrun by the Army at Bear Paw Mountains in Montana Territory.  There, knowing he was a dying breed, he gave his surrender speech:

"Tell General Howard I know his heart.  What he told me before, I have it in my heart.  I am tired of fighting.  Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead; Ta Hool Hool Shute is dead.  The old men are all dead.  He who led on the young men is dead.  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." (

chief joseph nez perce portrait native american

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