SPIRIT BEAR STUDIO

Chief Joseph's Surrender

In 1877, Chief Joseph had led his band of Nez Perce Indians in a trek through the Rocky Mountains for more than 1,000 miles.  They were intent on reaching Canada to join Sitting Bull where they would be safe.  Meanwhile, three different generals of the United States Army were chasing him and his people, and they clashed in a series of bloody skirmishes.  Joseph and his war chiefs (one of whom was his younger brother, Ollokut) won all of the battles—except for the last one.

Just 20 miles from the Canadian border, three of his war chiefs, including his brother, were killed in a single day of fighting.  It was time to surrender.  Only Joseph, as political chief, was left to ride out to meet General Howard to hand over his Winchester rifle in an official act of surrender.  Joseph gave a short, but elegant, speech.  In a quiet finish, he declared sadly, "I am tired of fighting. . . From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

In this dramatic bronze figure, we see Joseph lift his hand in a gesture to the sun, as he holds his rifle in his right hand.  He is wearing a woolen Pendleton coat/blanket, and it is shot through with bullet holes.  It is October 3, but snow was already on the ground, and the renowned chief is very tired.  This moment lives as one of the most poignant in all the history of the American West. It was called "The last Indian War".    

 


Chief Joseph bronzes in the foundry waiting to be shipped

 

 

 

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