Chief Joseph, or Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, was the spearhead of Wallowa band of ‘Nez Perce’, a primitive Red Indian native tribe of America. He led the revolt against the United States federal government, which forced them to leave their ancestral lands. This led to a ferociously violent period in contemporary history of the United States. After a series of blood splurged events, Joseph pleaded for political asylum and eventually found refuge in Canada. Despite the move, the U.S army sent the highly skillful and admirable leader Nez Perce in pursuit of the band. The media glorified this war between the two rivals, Joseph and the Nez Perce, which became highly sought-after in various newspaper and magazines. This developed the stature of Joseph as a renowned humanitarian and peacemaker. Despite this stature, many critics believed his image overshadowed the true colors of Joseph. Many would term Joseph as the ‘Red Napoleon’. Various theatrical adaptations have been attempted while paying tribute to Joseph and his speeches. The most prominent of them being ‘I Will Fight No More Forever’ starring Ned Romero. Let us go through some of the most enthralling quotes and sayings from this legendary rebel in history of United States, giving us an insight about his thoughts, work and life. Following are noteworthy quotes and thoughts by Chief Joseph.
The white men told lies for each other. They drove off a great many of our cattle. Some branded our young cattle so they could claim them.
My people were divided about surrendering.
The country was made without lines of demarcation, and it is no man's business to divide it... Do not misunderstand me, but understand me fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with it as I chose. The one who has the right to dispose of it is the one who created it. I claim a right to live on my land and accord you the privilege to live on yours.
We live, we die, and like the grass and trees, renew ourselves from the soft earth of the grave. Stones crumble and decay, faiths grow old and they are forgotten, but new beliefs are born. The faith of the villages is dust now... but it will grow again... like the trees.
All men were made brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be content when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.
When the last deer disappears into the morning mist, When the last elk vanishes from the hills, When the last buffalo falls on the plains, I will hunt mice for I am a hunter and I must have my freedom.
Lawyer acted without authority from our band. He had no right to sell the Wallowa country.
A chief called Lawyer, because he was a great talker, took the lead in the council, and sold nearly all the Nez Perce country.
We damaged all the big guns we could, and carried away the powder and the lead.
Governor Isaac Stevens of the Washington Territory said there were a great many white people in our country, and many more would come; that he wanted the land marked out so that the Indians and the white man could be separated.
If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace.....Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.......Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade....where I 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.
We do not want churches because they will teach us to quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth, but we never quarrel about the Great Spirit. We do not want to learn that.
I am ready to talk today. I have been in a great many councils, but I am no wiser. We are all sprung from a woman, although we are unlike in many things. We can not be made over again. You are as you were made, and as you were made you can remain. We are just as we were made by the Great Spirit, and you can not change us ; then why should children of one mother and one father quarrel ? — why should one try to cheat the other ? I do not believe that the Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of men the right to tell another kind of men what they must do.
We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that he never forgets, that hereafter he will give every man a spirit home according to his deserts; If he has been a good man, he will have a good home; if he has been a bad man, he will have a bad home. This I believe, and all my people believe the same.
Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other, then we will have no more wars. We shall all be alike-brothers of one father and one another, with one sky above us and one country around us, and one government for all.
Whenever the white man treats the Indian as they treat each other then we shall have no more wars. We shall be all alike - brothers of one father and mother, with one sky above us and one country around us and one government for all. Then the Great Spirit Chief who rules above will smile upon this land and send rain to wash out the bloody spots made by brothers' hands upon the face of the earth. For this time the Indian race is waiting and praying. I hope no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.