Chief Joseph was the leader of the Wallowa Band of Nez Perce. He lead the Nez Perce people on a four month journey covering 1600 miles in the Nez Perce War of 1877. Decendents of Chief Joseph's band are now members of the Confederated tribes of the Colville Reservation.
Source: As told by Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)
Chief Joseph, known by his
people as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder coming up over the land from the water),
was best known for his resistance to the U.S. Government's attempts to force
his tribe onto reservations. The Nez Perce were a peaceful nation spread from
Idaho to Northern Washington.
The tribe had maintained good relations with the
whites after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Joseph spent much of his early
childhood at a mission maintained by Christian missionaries.
In 1855 Chief Joseph's father, Old Joseph, signed a treaty with the
U.S. that allowed his people to retain much of their traditional lands.
In 1863 another treaty was created that severely reduced the amount of land,
but Old Joseph maintained that this second treaty was never agreed to by
A showdown over the second "non-treaty" came after Chief Joseph
assumed his role as Chief in 1877.
After months of fighting and forced marches, many of the Nez Perce were
sent to a reservation in what is now Oklahoma, where many died from malaria
Chief Joseph tried every possible appeal to the federal authorities to
return the Nez Perce to the land of their ancestors. In 1885, he was sent
along with many of his band to a reservation in Washington where, according
to the reservation doctor, he later died of a broken heart.