This Way Thursday
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Old Chief Joseph was a participant in the treaty negotiations of 1855. In 1863, he refused to sign what he called the subsequent "Steal Treaty" which ceded 90% of Nez Perce land, including all theWallowa Valley to the government. Old Joseph died in 1871 and was buried near Wallowa. His grave was moved to this site between Enterprise and Joseph in 1921.
Old Joseph had refused to leave the land, and died at winter camp in 1871.
Items left at the gravesite to honor Old Joseph are varied.
It was Old Joseph's son Young Joseph who was chief when the Nez Perce were driven from their traditional homeland. He led them on a nearly 1200 mile trek through mountainous terrain into Montana and Canada with the U.S. Army in pursuit, finally surrendering in October of 1877. These words attributed to his speech of surrender are well known.
"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, Too-hul-hul-sote 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."