Chief Joseph led his people in an unsuccessful
attempt to resist the takeover of their lands in the Oregon Territory by
white settlers. In 1877, his tribe was ordered to move to a reservation in Idaho. Chief
Joseph agreed but after members of his tribe killed a group of settlers
he tried to escape to Canada with his followers. They traveled over 1,500
miles through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Along the way they
fought several battles with the pursuing United States Army. They finally
surrendered on Octtober 5th, 1877.
His surrender declaration went as follows:
"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. "