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

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Harper Collins, Oct 25, 2005 - History - 419 pages
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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.


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CHIEF JOSEPH & THE FLIGHT OF THE NEZ PERCE: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A revisionist account of Nez Perce history and one of its most controversial figures.Under Chief Joseph's leadership, the schoolbook version of the story goes, hundreds of Nez Perce Indians ... Read full review

Chief Joseph & the flight of the Nez Perce: the untold story of an American tragedy

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Owing primarily to his eloquent "I will fight no more forever" speech, Chief Joseph (c. 1840-1904) has been widely celebrated as the quintessential, and stereotypical, noble Indian. Dubbed the "Red ... Read full review


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

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

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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.

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