Chief Joseph 1840-1904: In 1877, in one of the great epic marches in American history, Chief Joseph led his tribe of men, women, and children, for 1,500 miles across the northern United States, through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, first, to escape the genocidal rampage of the American Army, and ultimately, to cross the northern border and reach sancutary and safety in Canada's North West Territories.
Stopping every now and then to give battle to his ruthlessly pursuing foe, he failed to shake off his enemies.
Finally, in desperation, like White Cap and the Santee Sioux in 1862, Sitting Bull and his Sioux in 1876, Chief Joseph and the Nez Percé sought to cross the border into Canada to save the small band of people that remained with him.
But only 40 miles from the border, and sanctuary, in the winter cold, his small band of mainly old people and women and children, were surrounded by General Howard's army. Chief Joseph decided it was all over on Oct. 30, 1877 and made this speech, one of the most famous in American history:
"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. It is the young men who say yes or no. 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 lies buried on the Colville Reservation in Washington State.