CHIEF JOSEPH GOES TO WAR (1877)
AND OUT-GENERALS THE UNITED STATES ARMY
 AFTER Colonel Nelson A. Miles of the Fifth Infantry had driven Sitting Bull and Chief Gall of the Sioux
into Canada and his troops were trying to stop their raids back, at present Fort Keogh near Miles
City on the Yellowstone River in southeastern Montana he received word of another Indian war.
The friendly Pierced Noses of Oregon had broken the peace chain. They had crossed the mountains and
were on their way north, for Canada.
That the Pierced Noses had taken the war trail was astonishing news. For one hundred years they had
held the hand of the white man. Their proudest boast said: "The Nez Perces have never shed white
They spoke truly. During the seventy years since the two captains Lewis and Clark had met them in
1805, only one white man had been killed by a Pierced Nose. That was not in war, but in a private
quarrel between the two.
Hunters, traders and missionaries had always been helped by the Pierced Noses. The white man's
religion had been favored. The Good Book had been prized.
Young Chief Joseph was now the leader of the
 Pierced Noses upon the war trail. His Indian name was Hin-ma-ton
Ya-lat-kit—Thunder-rising-from-the-water-over-the-land. But his father had been christened
Joseph by the missionaries; so the son was called Young Chief Joseph.
A tall, commanding, splendid-looking Indian he had grown to be, at forty years of age. He was every
inch a chief, and had a noble face.
His people were the Lower Nez Perces, who lived in the beautiful Wallowa Valley—their Valley
of the Winding Waters, in northeastern Oregon. Here they raised many horses, and hunted, but put in
few crops. Old Chief Joseph had believed that the earth should not be disturbed; the people should
eat only what it produced of itself. The earth was their mother.
He believed also that nobody owned any part of the earth. The earth had been given to all, by the
Great Creator. Everybody had a right to use what was needed.
Twenty years ago, or in 1855, Old Chief Joseph hail signed a paper, by which the United States
agreed to let the Pierced Noses alone on their wide lands of western Idaho, and eastern Oregon and
But it was seen that the Pierced Noses did not cultivate the better portion of this country; the
white men wanted to plough the Valley of Winding Waters; and eight years later another treaty was
made, which cut out the Winding Waters. It narrowed the Nez Perces to the Lapwai reservation in
Old Chief Joseph did not sign this treaty. Other chiefs signed, for the Nez Perces. The United
 thought that this was enough, as it considered the Pierced Noses to be one nation. The Valley of the
Winding Waters was said to be open to white settlers.
The Old Chief Joseph Pierced Noses continued to live there, just the same. They asserted that they
had never given it up, and that the Upper Pierced Noses had no right to speak for the Lower Pierced
As Young Chief Joseph afterwards explained:
"Suppose a white man comes to me and says: 'Joseph, I like your horses and I want to buy them.' I
say to him: 'No; my horses suit me; I will not sell them.' Then he goes to my neighbor, and says to
him: 'Joseph has some good horses. I want them, but he refuses to sell.' My neighbor answers: 'Pay
me the money and I will sell you Joseph's horses.' The white man returns to me and says: 'Joseph, I
have bought your horses and you must let me have them.' That is the way our lands were bought."
When Old Joseph died, Young Joseph held his hand and listened to his words:
My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great
Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to
you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears
whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more, and white men will be
all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country
holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.
Young Joseph promised.
"A man who would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal," he said.
 After that he was careful never to accept any presents from the United States.
Even before the treaty of 1863 which was supposed to cover the Winding Waters valley, the white men
had invaded the Pierced Nose country. Gold had been discovered in Idaho. In 1861 the white man's
town of Lewiston had been laid out, among the Nez PercÚs—and there it was, without permission.
The Black Hills were being taken from the Sioux, in the same way.
Now trouble occurred between the Indians and the whites in the Valley of the Winding Waters, also.
The Government started in to buy the settlers' claims, so that the Pierced Noses might remain
undisturbed, but Congress did not appropriate the money.
In order to force the Indians off, the settlers stole their horses, and their cattle; Indians were
whipped, and killed. Chief Joseph's brother was killed. The murderer was not brought to trial,
because Joseph would not allow his people to appear in court.
"I have decided to let him escape and enjoy life," said Joseph. "I will not take his life for the
one he took. I do not want anything in payment for what he did. I pronounce the sentence that he
All that the Nez PercÚs asked, was that the white men get out.
Among the Indians of this Columbia River region there had sprung up a prophet, as in the days of
Tecumseh. His name was Smo-hal-la. He preached the doctrine that the land belonged to the Indians,
and that the red man was the real child of the Great Spirit.
 A day was nearing, when the Great Spirit would re-people the earth with Indians, and the white race
would be driven out. In the meantime the red men must live in their own way, and have nothing to do
with the white men. They must not dig into the body of their "mother," the earth.
The followers of Smohalla were called Dreamers. Chief Joseph was a member of the Dreamers; so were
many of his band.
As the Chief Joseph people would not come in upon the Lapwai reservation, and the missionaries and
Indian agent and soldiers could not persuade them, General Oliver O. Howard, who commanded the
Military Department of the Columbia, met in council with them, at Fort Lapwai, in April and May,
General Howard was a brave soldier who had lost his right arm in the battle of Fair Oaks, during the
Civil War. He was a kind, just man, one whom the Apaches and other tribes greatly trusted; but he
could do little with the stubborn Pierced Noses.
They usually dressed like white people. When they came to the council they were painted, and wore
buck-skins and blankets, according to the custom of the Dreamers.
Chief Joseph finally appeared. His younger brother, Ollicut, whom he dearly loved, was here. So were
Hush-hush-cute, chief of the Palouse tribe who mingled with the Pierced Noses in friendship; and
Sub-Chiefs Looking Glass and White Bird; and old Too-hul-hul-so-te, a Too-at, or Drummer Dreamer
In the principal councils Too-hul-hul-so-te was the
 most out-spoken, for the Pierced Noses. Chief Joseph and Ollicut his brother were more quiet. But
General Howard and Toohulhulsote had several tilts.
The white chiefs stated that the Nez PercÚs were to go upon the Lapwai reservation; then they would
be given the privilege of hunting and fishing in the Winding Waters country.
"The earth is our mother. When the earth was made, there were no marks or lines placed upon it,"
grunted the surly, broad-shouldered Toohulhulsote. "The earth yields enough of itself. It is not to
be disturbed by ploughs. It is not to be bought or sold. It carries its own chieftainship. Nobody
can sell possession of it. We never have made any trade. Part of the Indians gave up their land. We
never did. The Great Spirit made the earth as it is, and as he wanted it, and he made a part of it
for us to live upon. I don't see where you get the right to say we shall not live where he placed
"You have said twenty times that the earth is your mother," replied General Howard, growing angry.
"Let us hear no more about it, but come to business."
"Who are you, that you ask us to talk and then tell me I sha'n't talk?" retorted the saucy old
Toohulhulsote. "Are you the Great Spirit? Did you make the world? Did you make the sun? Did you make
the rivers to run for us to drink? Did you make the grass to grow? Did you make all these things,
that you talk to us as though we were boys? If you did, then you have the right to talk as you do."
"But," argued General Howard, "you know very
 well that the Government has fixed a reservation and that the Indian must go upon it."
"What person pretends to divide the land and put me on it?" growled old Toohulhulsote.
"I am the man," General Howard answered. "I stand here for the President."
"The Indians may do as they like, but I am not going on the reservation," announced Toohulhulsote.
His words were causing much excitement and bad feeling, and General Howard ordered him arrested. The
young men murmured among themselves, and would have begun war at once by rescuing him; but Chief
Joseph spoke to them and quieted them.
Toohulhulsote was kept locked up for five days. Meanwhile Chief Joseph had resolved to permit no
"I said in my heart," related Joseph, "that rather than have war I would give up my country. I would
rather give up my father's grave. I would give up everything, rather than have the blood of white
men on the hands of my people."
Thirty days was named as the time within which he must gather his people and goods and remove to the
reservation. He counseled everybody to obey. When Toohulhulsote came home he urged the Nez PercÚs
men to fight, and not be driven like dogs from the land where they were born; but Joseph stood with
a strong heart.
The time seemed too short for moving so many families, their horses and cattle. Still, he worked
bard, and all was going smoothly, when without
warn-  ing some bad white men raided the gathered cattle, and killed one of the herders.
This aroused the young men, again. A grand council of the Pierced Noses met, and talked war and
peace both. Chief Joseph talked peace. He was very anxious to get his people into the reservation
before more killings took place. The thirty days were almost up.
Then, on the very last day, or June 13, his young men broke away from him. There was one, whose
father had been killed by the settlers. There were the young man's father's relatives. There were
two Indians who had been whipped.
The young man rode away from the council, vowing war. He and his friends went out; they killed the
white murderer, and others; they came back and shouted to the council:
"Why do you sit here like women? The war has already begun."
So it had. Joseph and Ollicut were not here, but Chief White Bird hastened about, crying:
"All must join now. There is blood. You will be punished if you stay back."
More went out. The man who had whipped the two Indians was killed. A dozen of the settlers were
killed. Chief Joseph found that war had been declared; plenty of ammunition had been collected
without his knowing it; there was no use in any peace talk now.
He tried to make his people agree not to injure more settlers. Then he moved the camp to White Bird
Canyon, at the Salmon River in Idaho just across from the northeast corner of Oregon.
 They did not have long to wait. General Howard at once sent two troops of the First Cavalry against
him. Troop F was commanded by Captain David Perry, and First Lieutenant Edward Russell Theller of
the Twenty-first Infantry; Troop H was commanded by Captain J. G. Trimble and First Lieutenant
William R. Parnell. The two troops numbered ninety men. Ten settlers joined them, so that the whole
number was one hundred.
Chief Joseph and Chief White Bird his assistant had sixty warriors. At dawn of June 17 Ollicut,
through a spy-glass, saw the soldiers entering the narrow canyon.
Ollicut and White Bird wished to cross over the Salmon River with the women and children, and fight
from the other side.
"No, we will fight them here," said Joseph.
He had never fought a battle. The soldiers and settlers did not expect him to do much; he himself
did not know what he could do; but he was a born general, he had watched the white soldiers drill,
and, as he explained: "The Great Spirit puts it into the heart and head of man to know how to defend
Now he stowed the women and children in a safe place, and posted his warriors. White Bird commanded
the right flank; he, the left. He cleverly seized upon the high ground on the broken sides of the
The soldiers rode in, by column of twos, until at the wide spot they changed to column of fours.
Chief Joseph's men suddenly fired. Captain Perry used all
 his military skill, but in short order he was thoroughly defeated.
Joseph missed not a point. No white man could have done better. He threatened the right
flank—Captain Perry hastened men to strengthen it and then White Bird turned the left flank.
The volunteers ran away, Chief Joseph grabbed the best position; now he had the soldiers under his
thumb, and they retreated helter-skelter.
He cut off the rear guard, and every one in it was killed fighting. Captain Perry had worked hard to
rally his men. No use. The Chief Joseph men pressed furiously.
The actual battle had occupied only a few minutes. The soldiers lost Lieutenant Theller and
thirty-two men shot dead, out of the ninety; seven were wounded. The volunteers lost four men. The
Pierced Noses did not try to take any scalps.
Chief Joseph's warriors pursued for twelve miles, and quit. During the battle his wife was presented
by the Great Spirit with a little daughter. So now he had a baby to look out for.
Captain Perry was much mortified by the easy victory over him. The Pierced Noses of Joseph and White
Bird rejoiced. They had done better than they had expected. The soldiers had proved to be not very
Joseph had planned to take his people only beyond the Bitter Root Mountains of northeastern Idaho,
by the Pierced Noses' Road-to-the-buffalo, and stay in the Powder River country of Montana until he
 to terms with the United States. He was willing to risk the Sioux.
But General Howard did not sleep. He summoned troops from all his wide department of the Columbia.
The telegraph carried the word into California, and down into Arizona.
When he had two hundred soldiers he led them, himself. Chief Joseph ferried his women and children
over the roaring Salmon River on skin rafts towed by swimming ponies, and put the river between him
and General Howard.
General Howard viewed the position, and was puzzled. His rival general was a genius in defense. He
crossed the river, to the attack. Chief Joseph dodged him, crossed the river farther north, and
circling southward cut his trail and his communications with Fort Lapwai; fell upon Captain S. G.
Whipple's First Cavalry, which was in his path—surrounded it, wiped out Lieutenant Sevier
Rains and ten cavalrymen, scattered the reinforcements, and passed on, for the Road-to-the-buffalo.
General Howard heard that he had been side-stepped, and that the Nez PercÚs were beyond his lines.
With almost six hundred men, two field-pieces and a Gatling gun he followed at best speed. The
"treaty" or friendly Pierced Noses aided him; so did the Bannock Indians.
Chief Joseph had been joined by his friend Chief Looking Glass. Now he had two hundred and fifty
warriors—also four hundred and fifty women and children, two thousand horses, as many cattle,
 lodge baggage. In all the history of wars, no general carried a greater burden.
On July 11 he turned at the banks of the south Clearwater, in northern Idaho, to give battle again.
He had thrown up dirt entrenchments, and was waiting for General Howard's infantry, cavalry,
artillery and scouts.
General Howard formed line. He had graduated with honors at West Point in 1854, and had won high
rank in the Civil War. But Joseph wellnigh defeated him—nearly captured his supply train, did
capture a spring and keep him from the drinking water; and had it not been for reinforcements coming
in and creating two attacks at once on the Pierced Noses' position, he would have made General
The battle lasted two days. It was really a victory for Chief Joseph.
"I do not think that I had to exercise more thorough generalship during the Civil War," General
Chief Joseph withdrew his people in good order. General Howard in desperation sent the cavalry,
under Chief-of-Staff E. C. Mason, to find the Pierced Noses and hold them. Colonel Mason did not
find them—they found him, and he was very glad to return in haste to General Howard.
The Joseph people were now safely in the Lo-lo Trail, or the Road-to-the-buffalo, that wound up the
Bitter Root Range, and down on the other side. On this trail the two captains Lewis and Clark had
almost perished. What with the great forest trees fallen
 crisscross, the dense brush and the sharp tumbled rocks, no trail could be rougher.
Over and under and through the trees and rocks Chief Joseph forced his women and children, his
ponies aid cattle and baggage. Behind him he left blood and disabled horses and cows. One hundred
and fifty miles behind him he left the toiling, panting soldiers, whose forty axe-men were
constantly at work clearing a passage for the artillery and the packs.
Even at that, the soldiers marched sixteen miles a day; but the Pierced Noses marched faster.
The telegraph was swifter still. Fort Missoula, at the east end of the trail, had been notified.
Captain C. C. Rawn of the Seventh Infantry hastily fortified the pass down, with fifty regulars and
one hundred volunteers. Chief Joseph side-stepped him also, left him waiting, and by new trails
turned south down the Bitter Root Valley on the east side of the mountains!
The Bitter Root Valley was well settled. The Pierced Noses molested no ranches or towns. They
traded, as they went, for supplies.
Colonel John Gibbon, who had campaigned against Sitting Bull, now took up the chase. Chief Joseph
did not know about Colonel Gibbon's troops, and made camp on the Big Hole River, near the border in
south-western Montana. He was preparing lodge-poles, to take to the buffalo country.
Here, at dawn of August 9, Colonel Gibbon with two hundred regulars and volunteers surprised him
completely. A storm of bullets swept his lodges, before his people were astir. Everybody dived for
 Some of the warriors left their guns. The white soldiers charged into the camp. All was confusion;
all was death—but the warriors rallied.
In twenty minutes the white soldiers were destroying the camp with fire. In an hour they were
fighting for their lives. The Pierced Noses had not fled, as Indians usually fled in a surprise;
they had stayed, had surrounded the camp place, and were riddling the soldiers' lines.
The squaws and boys helped. On the other side, Colonel Gibbon himself used a rifle. He ordered his
troops into the timber. The Chief Joseph people rushed into their camp, packed up under hot fire,
and bundled the women and children and loose horses to safety. The warriors remained.
The soldiers threw up entrenchments. Colonel Gibbon was wounded. The Indians captured his
field-piece, and a pack mule loaded with two thousand rounds of rifle ammunition. They disabled the
cannon and drove off the mule. They fired the grass, and only a change of wind saved the soldiers
from being driven into the open.
All that day and the next day the battle lasted. At dusk of August 9 Colonel Gibbon had sent out
couriers, with call for reinforcements. "Hope you will hurry to our relief," he appealed, to General
Howard. Couriers rode to the Montana forts, also. The whole country was being stirred. Even Arizona
was getting troops ready.
This night of August 10 Chief Joseph learned from one of his scouts who had been posted on the back
 trail; that General Howard was hurrying to the rescue. So he withdrew his people again, to make
He had lost heavily. Eighty men, women and children were dead. Out of one hundred and ninety men in
the battle of the Big Hole, Colonel-Gibbon had lost sixty-nine in killed and wounded, including six
But the white men could easily get more soldiers; Chief Joseph could get no more warriors. He
decided to join with Sitting Bull's Sioux, in Canada.
Canada was a long way; maybe a thousand miles. General Howard and Colonel Gibbon pursued. Joseph
crossed the mountains again, into the southward. He veered east for the Yellowstone National Park.
On the road he found two hundred and fifty fresh ponies. General Howard sent Lieutenant G. R. Bacon
with cavalry to cut in front of him and defend a pass; and camped, himself, for a short rest, on the
Camas Meadows, one day's march behind the enemy.
Chief Joseph turned on him, deceived his sentries with a column of fours that looked like Lieutenant
Bacon's men coming back, and ran off all of General Howard's pack mules.
"I got tired of General Howard, and wanted to put him afoot," said Chief Joseph.
And he almost did it; for had not the cavalry horses been picketed close in, they would have been
General Howard had to wait for mules from Virginia City. Lieutenant Bacon wearied of watching the
 pass; left it—and Chief Joseph marched through, into the Yellowstone Park.
Now Colonel Miles, at Fort Keogh, far in the east, had been notified. He sent out Colonel S. D.
Sturgis and six companies of the fighting Seventh Cavalry, with Crow scouts, to head Joseph off.
Colonel Sturgis made fast time to the southwest. But Chief Joseph fooled him; pretended to go in one
direction and took another, leaving the Seventh Cavalry forty miles at one side.
Colonel Sturgis obtained fresh horses from General Howard, and started in chase. On September 17 he
came up with Chief Joseph's rear guard, captured several hundred ponies and sent back word to
General Howard that there was to be a decisive battle.
General Howard hurried. He marched all night. When he got to the battle-field he found only the
Seventh Cavalry there, with three killed and eleven wounded, and everybody exhausted. Chief Joseph
was marching on, north, in a great half circle. Somebody else must head him off.
General Howard sent a dispatch to Colonel Miles. "The Nez PercÚs have left us hopelessly in the
rear. Will you take action to intercept them?"
From Fort Keogh on the Yellowstone, one hundred and fifty miles eastward, Colonel Miles sallied out.
It was a relay race by the white chiefs. He took four mounted companies of the Fifth Infantry, three
companies of the Seventh Cavalry, three companies of the Second Cavalry, thirty Cheyenne and Sioux
scouts and some white scouts, a Hotchkiss machine gun, a
twelve-  pounder Napoleon field-piece, a long wagon train guarded by infantry, and a pack train of mules.
A steamboat was ordered to ascend the Missouri, and meet the troops with more supplies. Telegraph,
steamboats, trained soldiers, supplies—all the military power of the United States was
fighting Chief Joseph.
Joseph reached the Missouri River first, at Cow Island. There was a fort here, guarding a supply
depot. He seized the depot, burned it, and leaving the fort with three of its thirteen men killed,
he crossed the river.
Canada was close at hand. Pretty soon he thought that he had crossed the line, and in the Bear Paw
Mountains he sat down, to rest. He had many wounded to care for; his women and children were worn
out. He had marched about two thousand miles and had fought four big battles.
"I sat down," said Joseph, "in a fat and beautiful country. I had won my freedom and the freedom of
my people. There were many empty places in the lodges and in the council, but we were in a land
where we would not be forced to live in a place we did not want. I believed that if I could remain
safe at a distance and talk straight to the men sent by the Great Father, I could get back to the
Wallowa Valley and return in peace. That is why I did not allow my young men to kill and destroy the
white settlers after I began to fight. I wanted to leave a clean trail, and if there were dead
soldiers on it I could not be blamed. I had sent out runners to find Sitting Bull, to tell him that
another band of red men had been forced to run from
 the soldiers, and to propose that we join for defense if attacked. My people were recovering. I was
ready to move on to a permanent camp when, one morning, Bear Coat and his soldiers came in sight,
and stampeded our horses. Then I knew that I had made a mistake by not crossing into the country of
the Red Coats; also in not keeping the country scouted in my rear."
For he was not in Canada. The Canada border lay a day's march of thirty-five miles northward yet.
And he had not known anything about Colonel Miles, the Bear Coat.
Colonel Miles brought three hundred and seventy-five soldiers, and the cannon. Chief Joseph had
already lost almost one hundred of his men and women. But his brother Ollicut, Chief White Bird, and
the Drummer Dreamer, old Too-hul-hul-so-te, were still with him; and one hundred and seventy-five
The first charge of the Bear Coat cavalry, early in this morning of September 30, 1877, scattered
the camp and cut off the pony herd. Chief Joseph was separated from his wife and children. He dashed
for them, through the soldiers. His horse was wounded, his clothes pierced, but he got to his lodge.
His wife handed him his gun.
"Take it. Fight!"
And fight he did; his people fought. They dug rifle-pits, the same as white soldiers would. There
was fighting for four days. The Bear Coat lost one fifth of his officers and men. He settled to a
close siege, shooting with his cannon and trying to starve the Pierced Noses. He was much afraid
that Sitting Bull
 was coming dawn, and bringing the Sioux. He sent messages to notify General Terry, in the east, and
General Howard, in the south.
Chief Joseph's heart ached. His brother Ollicut was dead. Old Toohulhulsote was dead. Looking Glass
was dead. Twenty-four others had been killed, and forty-six were wounded. He had over three hundred
women and children. Of his own family, only his wife and baby were left to him. Sitting Bull did not
"My people were divided about surrendering," he said. "We could have escaped from the Bear Paw
Mountains if we had left our wounded, old women and children behind. We were unwilling to do this.
We had never heard of a wounded Indian recovering while in the hands of white men. I could not bear
to see my wounded men and women suffer any longer."
So he rode out, on the morning of October 5, and surrendered. General Howard had arrived, at the end
of his long thirteen-hundred-mile chase, but the surrender was made to Colonel Miles. Chief Joseph
handed over his gun.
"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohulhulsote is dead. The
old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead. [That
was Ollicut.] 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."
He raised his hand high, toward the sun.
 White Bird had taken a company and escaped to Canada. Colonel Miles promised Chief Joseph that he
would ask to have the surrendered people sent back to the Nez PercÚs' country. Those were the terms.
The surrendered people numbered eighty-seven men, three hundred and thirty-one women and children.
"Thus," reported General Sheridan, the head of the army, "has terminated one of the most
extraordinary Indian wars of which there is any record. The Indians throughout displayed a courage
and skill that elicited universal praise; they abstained from scalping, let captive women go free,
did not commit indiscriminate murder of peaceful families, which is usual, and fought with almost
scientific skill, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines and field fortifications."
The Government did not send the Chief Joseph Pierced Noses to their own country. It was claimed that
White Bird had broken the terms, by his escape. At any rate, the Joseph people were kept a long,
long time in Indian Territory. Many of them sickened and died. They were mountain Indians. They
missed their cold streams and their pure air. They fell away from over four hundred to two hundred
Chief Joseph's heart broke utterly. He issued an appeal—his own story—which was
published in the North American Review magazine, in 1879.
"If I cannot go to my own home, let me have a home in some country where my people will not die so
fast. . . .Let me be a free man—free to travel, free to stop,
 free to work, free to trade, where I choose; free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the
religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself and I will obey every law or
submit to the penalty."
Not until 1884 was he permitted to return to the mountains of the Northwest. The majority of his
people were located again in Idaho, among their kindred. He himself was placed upon another
reservation, near Spokane, Washington.
He pleaded for the Wallowa Valley—his Valley of the Winding Waters; but that had been settled
by the white men. All that he found was his father's grave. A white man had enclosed it with a
picket fence. Chief Joseph wept.
He lived to a good age. In 1903 hit visited the East; he talked with President Roosevelt and General
Miles. He met General Howard. The next year he exhibited himself in an Indian show at the St. Louis
fair. That hurt his pride. He was ashamed to sell his face for money.
When he went home, he was sick. This September he died, on the Washington reservation. The doctor
asserted that he died from a broken heart.
He was the last of the great chiefs of the American Indians. The Historical Society of the State of
Washington has erected over his grave a noble monument. Under it he lies, while people read his
name, translated: "Thunder-rolling-in-the-mountains."