SPIRIT BEAR STUDIO

Chief Joseph (Nez Perce) 1840-1904

In terms of the amount of literature and biographies written about him, Nez Perce Chief Joseph is one of the most popular, respected, and yet misunderstood of all the Native American leaders of the 19th century.  There were five bands of Nez Perce, and Joseph's band wintered in western Idaho and spent glorious summers grazing their beautiful horses in the verdant grasslands of the Wallowa Valley in north-eastern Oregon.  When Joseph and his younger brother Ollocot refused to give up their homeland and move to reservations, the United States Army moved against them in 1877 in a series of battles—all won by the Nez Perce—as they trekked 1700 miles through the West in an attempt to reach Canada.  On the last day of fighting—just 20 miles from the border—Ollocot and other war leaders of the band were killed.  Thus, only Joseph was left to ride out to surrender.  It was in this speech of surrender that he is purported to have said "I am weary of fighting.  From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

Joseph was always of gentle disposition, with no animosity toward the white men, even as they were taking The Wallowa away from the Nez Perce.  To his dying day in 1904 (at the age of 64) he appealed to the U. S. Government and to anyone who would listen, in an effort to return to his beloved homeland.

This bronze tribute to Joseph was done to honor his cause and memory.  He was truly a great human being.


Patineur at work


Typical foundry scene

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