Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 25, 2005 - History - 419 pages
18 Reviews

Hidden in the shadow cast by the great western expeditions of Lewis and Clark lies another journey every bit as poignant, every bit as dramatic, and every bit as essential to an understanding of who we are as a nation -- the 1,800-mile journey made by Chief Joseph and eight hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children from their homelands in what is now eastern Oregon through the most difficult, mountainous country in western America to the high, wintry plains of Montana. There, only forty miles from the Canadian border and freedom, Chief Joseph, convinced that the wounded and elders could go no farther, walked across the snowy battlefield, handed his rifle to the U.S. military commander who had been pursuing them, and spoke his now-famous words, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

The story has been told many times, but never before in its entirety or with such narrative richness. Drawing on four years of research, interviews, and 20,000 miles of travel, Nerburn takes us beyond the surrender to the captives' unlikely welcome in Bismarck, North Dakota, their tragic eight-year exile in Indian Territory, and their ultimate return to the Northwest. Nerburn reveals the true, complex character of Joseph, showing how the man was transformed into a myth by a public hungry for an image of the noble Indian and how Joseph exploited the myth in order to achieve his single goal of returning his people to their homeland.

Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce is far more than the story of a man and a people. It is a grand saga of a pivotal time in our nation's history. Its pages are alive with the presence of Lewis and Clark, General William Tecumseh Sherman, General George Armstrong Custer, and Sitting Bull. Its events brush against the California Gold Rush, the Civil War, the great western pioneer migration, and the building of the telegraph and the transcontinental railroad. Once you have read this groundbreaking work, you will never look at Chief Joseph, the American Indian, or our nation's westward journey in the same way again.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
7
4 stars
9
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Review: Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy

User Review  - Brian Morris - Goodreads

It's a sad and tragic tale from an era with plenty of such tales. But the long flight and battles with the Army make it a poignant story especially considering that the people were travelling with ... Read full review

Review: Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy

User Review  - Bill Buck - Goodreads

This is a challenging subject that has been handled by the author with an incredibly delicate approach and an engrossing style. Like the Trail of Tears, every American should know the story of the Nez ... Read full review

Contents

We Thought They Might Be Descended from Dogs
3
A Harvest for the Lord
13
A Child of Two Worlds
26
A Tide of Laws and Men
38
We Will Not Give Up the Land
63
There Have Been Killings
87
We Are Living Here Peacefully and Want No Trouble
105
The Most Terrible Mountains I Ever Beheld
120
Our People Are Hungry and Weak
205
Soldiers Are Coming
231
Colonel Miles Wants to Meet with Chief Joseph
244
It Is Cold and We Have No Blankets
262
You Will Be Returned to Your Homeland
277
You Must Move Again
294
When Will These White Chiefs Begin to Tell the Truth?
303
Is It Possible That the Noble Red Man Is Not a Myth?
316

In a Dream Last Night I Saw Myself Killed
143
Pursue Them to the Death
162
Alone in a Strange Country
183
We Wont Be Responsible for Their Lives
373
The Noblest Indian of Them All
397
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Kent Nerburn has been widely praised as one of the few writers who can respectfully bridge the gap between native and nonnative cultures. His book Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder won the 1995 Minnesota Book Award.

Bibliographic information