Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph

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Chief Joseph belonged to a Native American nation who identified themselves as Nee-Me-Poo, “The People.” He was a member of the Wallamotkin, or Wallowa Band of the Nez Percé. The traditional territory of the Nez Percé stretched from Washington and Oregon past the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and Idaho. From their first encounter with white men, the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, the Nez Percé enjoyed good relations with the whites.The Nez Percé culture permitted outsiders to marry into a different band, which formed a strong relationship with the new band or its leader. Joseph’s father was the product of such an accommodation.Birth and childhoodDeep in the bosom of the Wallowa Valley is Joseph Creek, a tributary of the Grand Ronde River in present-day northeastern Oregon. He was given the name Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or “Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain.” His people knew him as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat, “Thunder coming up over the land from the water.” His father, Tuekakas, also known as Old Joseph, was a Cayuse-Umatilla-Nez Percé; his mother was a Nez Percé woman by the name of Khap-khap-on-imi, or “Strong leader of women.”Joseph's father was a well-respected leader of his people. Reared as a traditional Nez Percé child, Hinmahtoo-yahlatkekht (young Joseph) and his brothers and sisters flourished in their father's village, In-nan-toe-e-in. His elder brother, Sousouquee, his younger brother, Ollokot, and his sisters were dear to Joseph.When Joseph was a child, the population of his band numbered in the hundreds. The children grew up striving to grasp the new ideas and stresses affecting their people as white settlers moved in and played an ever-increasing role in their lives.Joseph’s father was one of the first to show interest in Christianity, introduced by missionaries. Many Nez Percé stayed away and few converted to Christianity, owing to the Spaldings’ parochial viewpoint and failure to understand Nez Percé customs and religion.Greed, betrayal, and the foundations of warThe Walla-Walla Treaty. The 1855 Walla-Walla Treaty called for the Nez Percé to sell a great deal of their lands to the government. The treaty instructed the Nez Percé to abandon their ancestral country and relocate to Oregon's Umatilla Reservation with the Walla-Walla, Cayuse, and Umatilla tribes.The Lapwai Treaty. Following the discovery of gold on Nez Percé treaty land in 1860, thousands of miners and settlers invaded the Nez Percé homeland. The government ordered the Nez Percé to a reservation in Idaho that was only 10 percent the size of the original reservation.Early careerJoseph's younger brother, Ollokot, was a hunter and warrior. He not only gained the name and inherited the responsibility to parley with the American authorities for his tribe, but also the situation made progressively more explosive as white settlers continued to invade the Wallowa Valley.Joseph rejected the idea that the Nez Percé should give up the Wallowa Valley and live on the Lapwai Indian reservation in Idaho. Along with other non-treaty chiefs, including Looking Glass, White Bird, Tuhulhulzote, and Hahtalekin, they controlled about 200 warriors.Joseph continued to argue for peace, and at a war council called by the Sioux in 1874, he refused to take part in raids on white settlers. However, the government soon overturned itself.In 1877, General Oliver Howard threatened military action to force Joseph's band and other holdouts to relocate. Worried about the safety of his people, and not wanting to provoke the military into conflict, Joseph and his brother, Ollokot, agreed to move the entire Wallowa Band of Nez Percé to the Lapwai Indian reservation in Idaho.Enraged at the loss of their homeland, about 20 young Nez Percé warriors interrupted the forced relocation when they attacked nearby settlements, killing several whites. Owing to that unfortunate action, General Howard began to chase Joseph's band and the others who had not yet relocated to the smaller reservation. Although he had deplored war, Joseph cast his lot with the war leaders.The legendary retreatEven as the combined bands of non-treaty Nez Percé led by Joseph made their way to the Lapwai Indian reservation in Idaho, they were attacked by Howard’s troops. When they had reached Idaho, yet were still coming under fire from the army, the chiefs held counsel and decided that their best recourse was to flee and join their allies, the Mountain Crow to the East. The chiefs selected Looking Glass to be the war chief and trail boss, whose responsibility was to defend and guide the people as they traveled.Many army officers could not help but admire the Indians' retreat and their 1,700-mile march, admitting that "the Indians throughout displayed a courage and skill that deserved universal praise. They fought with a highly honed and almost precise military skill, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field defenses." The Indians won a decisive victory in what became the opening battle of The Nez Percé War.Over the following three months, the band of about 700 souls, of which fewer than 200 were warriors — encumbered by what goods they could carry and hundreds of horses — fought 2,000 U.S. soldiers and Indian auxiliaries in four major battles and numerous skirmishes.After they began their illustrious journey, they made their way through the mountainous terrain of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. They arrived at Tolo Lake and rested.The Nez Percé then sought refuge in White Bird Canyon. Three more combat encounters on the trail to the reservation and two battles within reservation borders persuaded the Nez Percé leadership that there was no peace for them in Idaho.By now, the Nez Percé refugees consisted of 200 men and approximately 550 women and children. They now fled in the direction of the buffalo country of Montana, determined to reach friends among the Mountain Crow people.While resting at the Big Hole River camp, war chief Looking Glass believed that they were safe from attack — and neglected to set night sentries. Twenty-five soldiers and five civilian volunteers died, and another thirty eight were wounded.Although war chief Looking Glass survived the battle, faith in his leadership fell sharply. From that point on, the survivors placed more authority and responsibility on Chief Hototo (Lean Elk) and in the administrative chief, Joseph. Army was not able to pursue the Nez Percé immediately.Joseph organized the surviving women, children, and elderly men while the warriors regrouped under Hototo, who had friends among the Crow in Montana and Wyoming. Thinking that the Crow Tribe would give them aid, the survivors crossed Horse Prairie and Bannock Pass and reentered Idaho, turning east toward Yellowstone National Park. The attacks threw the whites throughout the region into a “siege mentality,” taking up arms in stockades.General Howard continued his pursuit and almost cornered the Nez Percé, but a party of warriors led by Ollokot, Looking Glass and Toohoolhoolzote, held them off and ran off the army’s mule herd, temporarily immobilizing them. A rearguard of warriors encountered parties of Yellowstone tourists, killed two of them, and burned a ranch, adding to the charges leveled against the Nez Percé for not moving peaceably onto the reservation back in Idaho.Once in Crow country, the Nez Percés' hopes of living among their buffalo-hunting friends were shattered when the Crow denied help, fearing the U.S. After crossing the Musselshell River, they passed through the Judith Basin and finally reached the Missouri River.Fighting several skirmishes against the better armed and more numerous soldiers, the Nez Percé crossed the Missouri River in northern Montana on September 23. They decided to make a run for Canada to live among the Sioux under Chief Sitting Bull , who had been there since the end of the Battle of the Little Big Horn the year before. They hoped to find refuge there with Sitting Bull’s exiles, which had been given temporary sanctuary by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police following the Little Big Horn battle.Soon afterward, thinking they had outlasted and outwitted their pursuers, the Nez Percé stopped to rest near Bear Paw Mountain. With no bluecoats in sight and suffering from exposure, hunger, and exhaustion, they prepared for the final push into Canada.However, General Nelson Miles and his force surprised them on September 30. Under the leadership of Chief White Bird, 103 men, 60 women, and eight children evaded detection and slipped across the border. Chief Joseph formally surrendered to General Miles, ending what had already become a famous flight.Latter daysOn October 5, with war chiefs Ollokot and Looking Glass dead, only Chief Joseph remained in the main leadership position. Joseph formally surrendered to Miles on October 5, 1877, then uttered his famous speech:

“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, Ta-Hool-Hool-Shute 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.”

ImprisonmentJoseph’s plight did not end and his fame did him little good. Political pressure from the Northwest dictated their fate. They were to be exiled to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Joseph and all of the Nez Percé were taken into custody, held as prisoners of war, and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.Their imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth was brutal, but their circumstances worsened when they were finally transported to the hellhole called “Indian Territory,” there to die and be forgotten. For the following eight years, Joseph and most of his people remained prisoners of war in Indian Territory, where many died of diseases and hopeless depression. During that time, many of the tribe's women and children died of malaria.Back to the NorthwestOn April 29, 1885, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs ordered the tribe's guardians to move the Nez Percé back to the Northwest. On May 22, 1885, the Nez Percé boarded railroad cars in Arkansas City to travel to the reservation. Those who had converted to Christianity were allowed to move to Idaho. The Nez Percé in Oklahoma were allowed to return to the Northwest. Some 268 Nez Percé of the non-treaty bands who survived the captivity in Fort Leavenworth and the Indian Territory were allowed to move to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho, not far from the Wallowa Valley.Even in defeat, Joseph did not lose heart, but continued to defend and support those entrusted to his care with every tool at his disposal. During his people's brutal confinement at Fort Leavenworth and in Oklahoma, he appealed to military and civil officials. In 1879, Chief Joseph and another leader, Chief Yellow Bull, went to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes and plead the case of his people and for their return to their homeland, the Pacific Northwest.Joseph presented his case to the public at large, providing his account of Nez Percé history and their treatment at the hands of the Americans to the Reverend W.H. Hare in an interview published in the North American Review in April 1879. For the remainder of his life, Joseph tried unsuccessfully to convince federal authorities that he and others from his tribe should regain a place in the valley "where most of my relatives and friends are sleeping their last sleep." They made an attempt to win congressional support, but western senators were not about to lend aid to the Indians, with the possibility of losing their constituents' support, and all that they had created since the government started its war of armed pacification.Chief Joseph made such a favorable impression, however, that the Indian Rights Association and several eastern philanthropists began to speak out on his behalf. Joseph made several trips back to Washington, D.C., and to New York City on behalf of his people. He dictated his own account of the Nez Percé War, hoping to draw sympathy and support from those in power, but the government did not move quickly on his appeals.In 1885, Chief Joseph and his followers were allowed to move to a reservation in the Pacific Northwest, still far from their homeland in the Wallowa Valley. Those who continued to practice the old ways were to be exiled to the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington. Joseph and 150 of his non-Christian band were sent to the Colville Reservation, where the chief lived out the remainder of his life traveling and speaking on behalf of his people. At Colville, Joseph had a log cabin, but he preferred the old way of living in teepees and mat lodges. There he sought to live in the traditional manner and follow his Dreamer beliefs. He and his band became permanent residents of the Colville Reservation.Death of a Native American heroOn September 21, 1904, at age 64, a great statesman for his people, a man who had lived most of his later life separated from the people and land that he dearly loved and protected, died in exile on the Colville Indian Reservation in Northeastern Washington State.Chief Joseph had died alone in his teepee after serving his people for most of his adult life. The doctor listed cause of death as a broken heart. His remains were interred in the cemetery on the Colville Reservation.To honor him, a monument was erected at Nespelem on the reservation in 1905. In celebration of his life and death, his friend Chief Yellow Bull rode Joseph's horse and delivered his eulogy while on horseback. "Joseph is dead," the old chief said, "but his words will live forever."

Chief joseph

Chief Joseph’s greatest gift as a leader of the Nez Perces was his ability to get inside the heads of his enemies. He was called the Red Napoleon, a military genius who outwitted and outfought several army commands while being chased.

Book Review: Chief Joseph

Ted Meyers expounds on the life of Chief Joseph, sometime leader of the Nez Perce during their 1877 flight/fight.

Chief Joseph’s Guiding Principle

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Book Review: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perces: A Photographic History (Bill.

CHEIF JOSEPH AND THE NEZ PERCES: A PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY The 1,500-mile flight–and sometimes fight–in 1877 of Chief Joseph and other discontented Nez Perce who had been pushed to the limit ranks as one of the most extraordinary.

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Two traditions

Chief Joseph was born in a cave during the spring of 1840 in the Wallowa Valley of present-day Oregon. His father, Tuekakas (c. 1790–1871), had been baptized earlier that year by a Presbyterian missionary minister named Henry Spalding (1803–1874) and had taken the name Joseph. When his son was born, the father became known as Joseph the Elder and the son Young Joseph. His mother was named Khapkahponimi. Up until age seven, Young Joseph was schooled in Christian teachings by Spalding, who called him Ephraim.

Young Joseph was also raised in traditional Nez Perce customs and was given the name Hin-mah-too-yah-latkekht (Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain). Like other boys of the Nez Perce, he participated in a ritual at age nine through which he attained a "Wyakin," or guardian spirit. While growing up, Young Joseph followed the typical migratory pattern of the Nez Perce—spending winter and early spring in the Wallowa Valley, moving to the prairie and woodlands in the summer months, and fishing mountain streams for salmon in late summer and autumn. He helped gather food, such as wild root crops (vegetables that grow underground, like wild potato, which the Nez Perce called keh-keet) and fruit (including many varieties of berries) as well as pine nuts and sunflower seeds. He hunted for large game animals, especially deer and elk, small game animals, and birds.

But as Young Joseph was growing up, the lands around him were undergoing great change. In 1843, the first wagon trains with white settlers passed through the region and formed what would be called the Oregon Trail. Three thousand settlers came to the region in 1845, and another four thousand came in 1847. That year, an epidemic of measles, an infectious disease, spread from settlers to the nearby Cayuse tribe and resulted in many deaths. The angered Cayuse engaged in a three-year war with settlers and the soldiers protecting them. Joseph the Elder and the Nez Perce did not participate in the war. They remained in the Wallowa Valley, which remained free of white settlers.

Chief Joseph (aka Heinmot Tooyalakekt)

Chief Joseph was a Nez Perce leader who led his tribe called the Wallowa band of Nez Perce through a treacherous time in United States history. These indigenous people were natives to the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. Chief Joseph was a powerful advocate for his people’s rights to remain on their homeland. In 1877 the Nez Perce tribe was forcibly removed from their native land by the United States government. The Nez Perce were given 30 day notice to leave their homeland. At first the Nez Perce people resisted removal, and this resulted in a series of violent events. They were ordered to relocate to a reservation in Lapwai, Idaho which resulted into the Nez Perce War.

In the Nez Perce War Chief Joseph led a couple hundred of warriors, and many women and children eluding United States troops over a 1,300 mile stretch. In a 3 month period the Nez Perce battled their way across the state of Oregon, and all the way to Montana. The tribe first attempted to settle with the Crow in Montana, but the Crow natives refused to help them. Chief Joseph and his people then headed North in hopes of taking refuge with the Lakota tribe that was led by Sitting Bull. The Nez Perce were skillful warriors in the battlefield which earned them great respect and admiration among the opposing cavalry, and the general public. In the fall of 1877 after a long and brutal battle Chief Joseph and his band surrendered in Montana only 40 miles away from the Canadian border which would have led them to freedom. However along the way many of the Nez Perce had either froze to death, starved, or died of disease including five of Chief Joseph’s children.

After the war Chief Joseph was never allowed to return home. In 1885 the Nez Perce and their fearless chief were escorted to Washington so they could settle on the Colville Indian Reservation far away from their original homeland and people in Idaho. In Chief Joseph’s final years he spoke about the cruelty that his people endured from the United States government. His hope was that one day there would be equality for everyone including Native Americans. Chief Joseph died of natural causes in 1904, and is buried in Nespelem, Washington.

Resources about Chief Joseph:

Chief Joseph. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 27, 2017 from Wikipedia.

Davis, Russell and Ashabranner, Brent K. Chief Joseph: war chief of the Nez Perce. New York, McGraw Hill. 1962.


An Apache leader who fought fiercely against Mexico and the U.S. for expanding into his tribe’s lands (now present-day Arizona), Geronimo began inciting countless raids against the two parties, after his wife and three children were slaughtered by Mexican troops in the mid-1850s. 

਋orn as Goyahkla, Geronimo was given his now-famous name when he charged into battle amid a flurry of bullets, killing numerous Mexicans with merely a knife to avenge the death of his family. Although how he got the name "Geronimo" is up for debate, white settlers at the time were convinced he was the "worst Indian who ever lived." 

On September 4, 1886, Geronimo surrendered to U.S. troops, along with his small band of followers. During the remaining years of his life, he converted to Christianity (but was kicked out of his church due to incessant gambling), appeared at fairs and rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. He also dictated his own memoir, Geronimo’s Story of His Life, in 1906. 

On his deathbed three years later, Geronimo reportedly told his nephew he regretted surrendering to the U.S. “I should have fought until I was the last man alive," he told him. Geronimo was buried at the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery in Fort Still, Oklahoma.

Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph: From Indians to Icons

Of all the Native Americans who lived or are living in the Pacific Northwest, two who enjoy the most recognition are Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph. Seattle was the Lushootseed leader after whom the city of Seattle was named, the largest city to be so honored. Joseph was chief of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce and a leader of the Nez Perce during their desperate, daring 1877 war with the United States. Both were noted orators.

The Pacific Northwest remains remote from the rest of the country, but here, as elsewhere, Native Americans figure prominently in its unfolding history. Coyote of Columbia River mythology still animates our folklore. The Spokane prophet Circling Raven announced the imminent arrival of a new people and leaders like the Nuu-chah-nulth headman Maquinna and one-eyed Concomly of the Chinooks impressed fur traders enough to earn prominence in early narrative histories of the region. In 1831, the Nez Perce were among the group making the portentious trip to St. Louis seeking information about the white man's religion. When trade and missionary work turned to conquest, the bravery and sagacity of Kamiakin of the Yakama, Moses of the Middle Columbia Salish, and Leschi of the Nisquallies commanded respect from friend and foe alike. The Wanapam prophet Smohalla kept religious traditions alive east of the Cascades while John and Mary Slocum inspired a religious fervor on upper Puget Sound that developed into the Indian Shaker Church. The creativity and strength needed to survive forced assimilation and racial bias continues to find expression in figures as diverse as the late Nisqually fishing rights activist Billy Frank, Sn. and Spokane/Coeur d'Alene writer and film director Sherman Alexie.

So Seattle and Joseph do not stand alone or even apart from other Northwestern native leaders who have defended and inspired a people sorely tested by history. That they are better known than the others has much to do with the sentiments they evoked from the Americans who invaded their lands.

Chief Seattle

When Seattle died on June 6, 1866, he was believed to be about 80 years old. He would, therefore, have been born around 1786, a full generation before Joseph. Because he had reached middle age before he appears in the historic record, information about his early years is fragmentary. He told settlers he was born on Blake Island in central Puget Sound. His father, Schweabe, was a noble from the main Suquamish village at Agate Pass and his mother, Sholitza, was Duwamish from the lower Green River. His birth occurred during an apocalyptic time in his peoples' history when epidemics inadvertently introduced by western traders decimated the native population, and the introduction of western trade goods and firearms added to the turmoil. Seattle claimed he was present when the British ship H.M.S. Discovery, captained by George Vancouver, anchored off Bainbridge Island on May 20, 1792, and the happy memories of the explorer's visit and his appreciation of the power and abilities of Westerners remained with him all his life. (See also: "Vancouver and the Indians of Puget Sound".)

Despite an attribution of slavery in his lineage, Seattle's noble status was affirmed by his reception of Thunderbird power from an important supernatural wealth-giver during a vision quest held sometime during his youth. He married well, taking wives from the important village of Tola'ltu on the western shore of Elliott Bay. His first wife died after bearing a daughter, but a second bore him sons and daughters, and he owned slaves, always a sign of wealth and status.

During the period when his famous uncle, Kitsap, led a coalition of Puget Sound forces against the powerful Cowichans of Vancouver Island, who had been sending raiders south, Seattle succeeded in ambushing and destroying a party of raiders coming down the Green River in canoes from their strongholds in the Cascade foothills. He also attacked the S'Klallam, a powerful people living on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula, and claimed to have taken a length of shell money from one of their headmen. He may also have participated in raids on the upper Snoqualmie River. By the time he entered the historic record in 1833, when the Hudson's Bay Company founded Fort Nisqually near the head of the Sound, he enjoyed a reputation as an intelligent and formidable leader with a compelling voice. The nickname given him by Company personnel, 'Le Gros' (the big one), indicates he had a physique to match his personality.

The Chief Trader at Fort Nisqually, Francis Herron, considered Seattle important - and dangerous - enough to request his mark on a treaty foreswearing murder. His intimidating presence during frequent visits to the fort, however, kept officials on their guard, and the trouble he caused by murdering a Skykomish shaman in 1837 led Herron's replacement, William Kittson, to hope that the Suquamish would kill him. They, however, valued his leadership. In 1841 he led a crippling raid on the village Yila'lqo, at the confluence of the Green and upper White Rivers, to revenge a murdered kinsman, and six years later he helped lead the Suquamish in an attack upon the Chemakum stronghold of Tsetsibus, near Port Townsend, that effectively wiped out this rival group.

The death of one of his sons during this episode appears to have affected him deeply, for not long after that, Seattle sought and received baptism into the Catholic Church, taking the prophet Noah as his spiritual intersessor. (See also: "Christianity, a Matter of Choice".) He was probably baptised by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at their St. Joseph of Newmarket Mission, founded near the new American settlement of Olympia in 1848, and he appears as Noe Siattle in the Oblate Sacramental Register. His children were also baptized and raised in the faith, and his conversion marked the end of his fighting days and his emergence as a leader seeking cooperation with incoming American settlers.

These reached Puget Sound in 1846, and the warm welcome and aid Seattle gave those visiting his homeland earned him the reputation as a friend of the whites. His speech greeting Isaac N. Ebey and B. F. Shaw when they visited Elliott Bay in the summer of 1850, requesting that they settle among his people and trade, was recorded by Shaw. The glowing description of his country that Ebey published in the Oregon Spectator shortly afterwards encouraged settlement in the Duwamish River Valley.

Seattle actively sought out settlers with whom he could do business and trade, and he took up residence at Olympia to develop contacts. His first success came with Charles Fay, a San Francisco merchant, with whom he organized a fishery on Elliott Bay in the summer of 1851. When Fay departed in the fall, Seattle returned to Olympia and convinced David S. Maynard to take his place. In the spring of 1852, Seattle and Maynard organized another fishery at dzidzula'lich, a native village on the east shore of the bay. By the summer, the Americans who took claims near the village named the hybrid settlement Seattle after their patron and protector.

Seattle's efforts to participate meaningfully in the creation of the new community and blend his people's future with the settlers' fell victim, however, to land hunger and the desire of many influential whites to keep their people separate from the native population. This, however, did not lessen Seattle's friendship and loyalty. Notes from the translation of his speech greeting the prospect of treaty negotiations announced by Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens during the latter's visit to Elliott Bay in January, 1854, were purportedly written down by Henry Smith, a recent arrival to the area. Stevens recognized Seattle's importance as a native leader, and because of his age and prestige, he served as native spokesman during the treaty council held at Point Elliott (Muckilteo), from December 27, 1854, to January 9, 1855. Despite voicing misgivings about his people receiving money for their land, he was the first to place his mark on the treaty document ceding title to some 2.5 million acres of land, retaining a reservation for his Suquamish but none for the Duwamish.

Unhappiness over the treaties and American arrogance caused many Duwamish to repudiate Seattle's leadership and led, ultimately, to the Yakima Indian War of 1855-57. Subsequent native accusations of his duplicity during that conflict suggest he tried to maintain contact with all native parties east and west of the mountains, but he remained a firm ally of the Americans, and his contacts provided them valuable intelligence.

After native forced were defeated, Seattle struggled to help his people, unsuccessfully seeking clemency for the war leader, Leschi, and petitioning the governor to hurry ratification of the treaty. On the Fort Kitsap (Port Madison) reservation he attempted to curtail the influence of whiskey sellers and prevent the ritual murder of slaves. He had freed his own slaves as required by the treaty. Off the reservation, he participated in meetings to resolve native disputes.

He retained his friendship with Maynard and cultivated new relationships with people such as William De Shaw, Indian Agent and owner of a trading post at Agate Pass, and sawmill owner George Meigs, whose teetotaling company town provided native workers a safe haven from predatory whiskey sellers. Seattle continued to befriend Americans expressing pleasure at being invited to their gatherings, and suffering their slights and humiliations with stoic dignity.

He received the sacrament of Confirmation at Tulalip in 1864, reaffirming his commitment to his faith, but the leadership of the native Catholic community at Suquamish rested with another Suquamish leader, Jacob, who built the first church there. An 1865 ordinance enacted by the newly incorporated town of Seattle forbade permanent Indian houses within the city limits, forcing Seattle to vacate the place where he had greeted Shaw and Ebey and invited them to settle. He lived at his homes on the Port Madison Reservation, and probably north of the city limits where the daughter of his first wife, called Angeline by settlers, lived, but he was a common sight in town, visiting friends and caring for his people who worked there and continued to gather at temporary campsites on its waterfront. (See also: "Chief Seattle and Angeline".)

In that year he visited the photographic studio operated by E. M. Sammis at the corner of Front and Mill Streets (First and Yesler) and sat for a portrait.

He died on the reservation after a brief illness.

Chief Joseph

When Joseph was born in 1840 in a cave on Joseph Creek, a tributary of the Grand Ronde River, in the northeast corner of present-day Oregon, his people were already well known to Americans. His father, Tuekakas (one of many spellings), was the leader of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce and one of Henry and Eliza Spaulding's first Christian converts at the Lapwai mission, founded in 1836. His mother's name survives as Khap-khap-on-imi. Spaulding gave the Tuekakas the Christian name, Joseph, probably at his baptism in 1839. His young son, Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht, 'Thunder Rolling In The Mountains,' received the same name , probably in the early 1860s, and incoming white settlers distinguished father and son as Old Joseph and Young Joseph.

The Nez Perce, who had maintained good relations with the Americans for virtually the entire period from their encounter with the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805, remained neutral during the Cayuse War of 1847-1850, and aided the Americans militarily during the Yakima War. By then, however, Old Joseph had begun to distance himself from Christianity and return to more traditional native beliefs and practices espoused by the Wanapam prophet, Smohalla, whose followers were called 'Dreamers' by whites. Two young sons, Ollokot and Young Joseph, followed their father's inclinations. Old Joseph signed the Treaty of Walla Walla engineered by Stevens in May/June 1855, but he had grown suspicious of American intentions and sincerity. (See also: "Indian Council at Walla Walla" and "Lawyer of the Nez Perces".)

His fears were substantiated when thousands of miners invaded Nez Percez lands after gold was discovered on them in 1860, and in 1863 when government commissioners ordered the Nez Perce reservation reduced from 5000 square miles to between 500 and 600 at a treaty council held at Lapwai. The Wallowa Valley was not included in the reduced reservation. The treaty demands split the Nez Perce into treaty and non-treaty factions, more or less along religious lines the treaty faction being led by Christians and the non-treaty by those retaining traditional beliefs. Old Joseph numbered himself among the latter, tearing up his copy of the treaty and destroying the bible Spalding had given to him.

The Lapwai treaty, known by angry Nez Perce as the 'thief treaty,' left Old Joseph's people in an untenable position. Further treaty councils affirmed Nez Perce ownership of the Wallowa Valley, but in 1875, this decision was reversed, and more settlers entered the area. Made a trespasser in his own country, Old Joseph had few allies to help him resist white demands for his people's removal. Just before his father died in 1871, young Joseph recalled his plea. "My son never forget my dying words. This country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother."

In January, 1877, the Army demanded that all non-treaty Nez Perce remove themselves to the Lapwai Reservation. At stormy council meetings held in May, government officials backed by military force demanded that the Nez Perce leave the Wallowa Valley, and the chiefs consented grudgingly. General Oliver Howard gave them 30 days to make the move. Passions rose as the Nez Perce gathered their goods and stock, and in June, three young men, seeking to revenge a kinsman murdered earlier by a settler, killed and wounded several whites. Another group went on another rampage killing more people. The army intervened and in the early morning of June 17, attacked the Nez Perce in White Bird Canyon. (See also: "General Howard and the Nez Perce War of 1877" and "Nez Perce and their War".)

The army suffered a humiliating defeat in what became the opening battle of the Nez Perce War. During the next four months approximately 1000 Nez Perce men, women and children, of which somewhat less than a quarter were fighting men, encumbered by what goods they could carry and hundreds of horses, conducted an extraordinary retreat over 1700 miles of mountain and prairie, fighting several engagements against better armed and more numerous forces until they were eventually forced to surrender barely 40 miles from safe haven in Canada.

The national press covered the campaign closely, and identified Joseph as the primary war leader during most of it, but subsequent study places Looking Glass in that role after his group joined the retreat in July. Specifically, Joseph guarded the women and children, the people's hope and future, during the retreat, making him, in effect, the guardian of the people. (See also: "Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Warriors".)

His courage, intelligence and confident bearing, his empathy, tact and diplomatic skills inspired them to heroic efforts and impressed their white adversaries. After the Bear Paws battle, with most of the warriors and leading chiefs killed, it fell to him to surrender, and his speech, recorded at the site by Lieutenant C. E. S. Wood, and published in the November 17, 1877 issue of Harper's Weekly, made him the symbol of Nez Perce heroism and resistence. (See also: "Last Stand of the Nez Perces".)

Even in defeat Joseph did not lose heart, but continued to defend and support those entrusted to his care with every tool at his disposal. (See also: "Nez Perces in Exile".) During his people's fatal confinement at Fort Leavenworth and in Oklahoma, he appealed to military and civil officials, even President Rutherford B. Hayes for their return to their homeland, and he presented his case to the public at large, providing his account of Nez Perce history and their treatment at the hands of the Americans to the Reverend W. H. Hare in an interview published in North American Review in April, 1879. Eventually 268 Nez Perce of the non-treaty bands who survived captivity were permitted to return to the Northwest. About half went to Lapwai and in June 1885, Joseph led his remnant band to the Colville Reservation in Eastern Washington.

There he sought to live in the tradition manner and follow his Dreamer beliefs. He also continued his efforts to return his people to the Wallowa Valley but without success. The photographs made of him from 1879 onward record the effect of this ordeal.

In 1899 officials allowed Joseph to return briefly to the Wallowa Valley, and a year later he visited his father's grave. By then it had been ransacked, and a local dentist exhibited Tuekakas' skull in his office as a curio. As the aged son confronted the desecrated grave in the midst of a plowed field, an observer recalled that he "melted and wept". Rebuffed in his efforts to purchase land for a reservation, he nevertheless continued to plead for his people's return to any sympathetic ear, and on visits to Washington. D.C., New York, Seattle and St. Louis, he continued to make his case publically. He returned from St. Louis for the annual July 4 celebration at Nespelem on the Colville Reservation, and on September 21, 1904, died alone in his lodge, sitting before his fire.


The transformation of Seattle and Joseph into popular folk heroes after their deaths has followed a convoluted trail. Joseph's national prominence rested initially upon the erroneous assumption that he masterminded the Nez Perce retreat, an error spread quickly and widely thanks to the telegraph and the emergence of a national media. The beauty and sadness of his surrender speech, his compelling argument on his peoples' behalf, and the sheer moral force of his presence won him admiration and even adulation among those disposed to be sympathetic toward his people. As a man of principle and courage defeated by a powerful and relentless foe, he became an attractive symbol to many.

Seattle's fame came more slowly. His death went unreported in the city named after him, and it was not until 1870, when the Seattle Weekly Intelligencer reprinted an Overland Monthly article describing his funeral, that any local attention was paid to him. But it was not until Henry Smith worked the notes he claimed to have taken of Seattle's 1854 remarks into a speech laden with prophetic irony that was printed in the Seattle Sunday Star on Oct. 29, 1887, that his status as a folk icon approached that of Joseph. Smith's reconstruction of the speech, one of eleven essays celebrating pioneer achievements, appeared at a highly charged moment in Seattle's social history, and was intended as an admonition to the emergent professional elites that were displacing the older pioneer proprietors. Like Joseph, Seattle became an attractive and compelling symbol.

Sympathy for Joseph and the cause of his people has never flagged, and today, although his role in the dramatic events of 1877 has been clarified, his dramatic appeal has not lessened, and his poignant efforts to sustain his peoples' hopes continues to haunt the popular mind. He remains an outstanding native leader and his appeal to both native and white audiences serves, as he had hoped it would, as a bridge of understanding between two races estranged and yet bound together by history.

Seattle's fame is such that many continue to attribute to him a speech presenting him as an environmental prophet, despite the fact that it has been shown to be entirely apocryphal, the innocent product of screen writer Ted Perry in 1970. But the dignity of Seattle's speech, as recalled by Smith, and of his person, attested by native and white contemporaries, resonates with Native American efforts to maintain pride in their heritage, just as our growing appreciation of his complex character and the role he played fostering cooperative development help reawaken our understanding of the native contributions to the history of the Pacific Northwest.


Buerge, David M. "Chief Seattle: The Man, Not The Myth." Seattle Weekly , June 29, 1983, 24-28.

Buerge, David M. "The Man Who Invented Chief Seattle." Seattle Weekly , September 1, 1993, 18-28.

Carlson, Frank. "Chief Sealth." The Bulletin of the University of Washington , Series III, Number 2, December 1903.

Coombs, Samuel. "Good Chief Seattle." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer , Sunday, May 26, 1893, 9.

Denny, Arthur A. Pioneer Days on Puget Sound . Seattle, W. T.: C.B. Bagley, Printer, 1888.

Denny, Emily Inez. Blazing the Way: True Stories, Songs And Sketches of Puget Sound And Other Pioneers . Seattle: Rainier Publishing Company, Inc., 1909, reprinted by the King County Museum of History and Industry, Dec. 1984.

Dickey, George, Ed. The Journal of Occurences At Fort Nisqually . Fort Nisqually Association, 1989.

Elmendorf, William W. Twana Narratives: Native Historical Accounts of a Coast Salish Culture. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1993.

Gibbs, George, M.D., "Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon." Contributions to the North American Ethnologist , Vol. 1, 1877, U.S. Govt. Printing Office.

Grant, Frederick James, Ed. History of Seattle, Washington . New York: American Publishing and Engraving Co., 1891.

Hanford, Cornelius H. Seattle and Environs 1852-1924 , Chicago & Seattle: Pioneer Historical Publishing Co., 1924. p. 148.

Harrington, John Peabody. The Papers of John Peabody Harrington. Alaska/Northwest Coast, in National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Reel 015, Lummi-Duwamish.

Kaiser, Rudolph. "A Fifth Gospel, Almost" Chief Seattle's Speech(es): American Origin and European Reception." Indians and Europe: An Interdisciplinary Collection of Essays , Feest, Christian F., Aachen: Heredot, Rader Verlag, 1987.

Leighton, Caroline C. West Coast Journeys 1865-1879 . Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1995.

Meany, Edmund. Vancouver's Discovery of Puget Sound . Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.: Binfords & Mort, Publishers, 1957.

Metcalfe, James Vernon. The Life of Chief Seattle . Seattle: A Catholic Northwest Progress Publication, 1964. [In this work, however, Metcalf incorporates the erroneous assumption of Fr. Felix Verwilghen, that the headman known as Tsla-la-cum or Steilacoom was actually Seattle. The two were separate individuals. D. Buerge].

Prosch, Thomas W. David S. Maynard and Catherine T. Maynard . Seattle: Lowman & Hanford Stationery & Printing Co., 1906.

Sacramental Register. Olympia and Puget Sound. 1848 to 1860 . Oblate Fathers, OMI. Volume I, Part II (available in Seattle Archdiocesan Archives).

Sacramental Register. Tulalip and Puget Sound. Oct. 15, 1857 to April, 1868 , Vol. II

Snyder, Warren A. "Autobiography of Ameliz Snaetlum." in "Southern Puget Sound Salish: Texts, Place Names and Dictionary." Sacramento Anthropological Society Papers 9 , Sacramento, CA. 1968. p. 131, number 12.

Starling, Edmund A. to Isaac Stevens, December 4, 1853. The Records Of The Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1853-1874 . Roll 1, (b), Copies and Drafts of Letters Sent, March 1853-March 31, 1856.

Scammon, C. M., "Old Seattle and his Tribe." The Overland Monthly , vol. 4, April, 1870, no. 4.

Tolmie, William Fraser. The Journals of William Fraser Tolmie: Physician and Trader . Vancouver Canada: Mitchell Press, Limited, 1963.

Verwilghen, Fr. Felix, CICM. Chief Sealth, ca. 1786-1866, In The Letters Of The First Christian Missionaries Of The Puget Sound Area . Paper presented to the Pioneer Association of the State of Washington, 1964.

Ward, Dillis B. "From Salem, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, in 1859." Washington Historical Quarterly , Vol. VI, No. 2, April, 1915, pp. 100-106.

Watt, Roberta Frye. 4 Wagons West. the story of Seattle . Portland, Ore.: Binfords & Mort Publishers, 1931.

For Chief Joseph

Beal, Merrill D. "I Will Fight No More Forever" Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963.

Gridley, M. Kopet: A Documentary Narrative of Chief Joseph's Last Years . Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1981.

Joseph, Nez Perce Chief. Chief Joseph's Own Story . Fairfield, Washington: Ye Galleon Press, 1984.

Josephy, Alvin M. Jr., The Nez Perce Indians And The Opening Of the Northwest . Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

McWhorter, L. V. Hear Me My Chiefs! Nez Perce Legend and History . Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1986.

Taylor Marian W. Chief Joseph Nez Perce Leader . New York, Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1993.

Wilfong, Cheryl. Following the Nez Perce Trail . Oregon University Press, 1994.

Study Questions

  1. Why would we know more about Joseph's early life than Seattle's?
  2. What accomplishments and characteristics enabled Seattle to become a leader among his people? What can these things tell you about the world in which he lived?
  3. Why would Seattle have found it in his interest to develop positive ties with the Americans?
  4. Why did Joseph find it necessary to fight the Americans?
  5. What reasons would have impelled Seattle to become a Catholic convert?
  6. What reasons would have impelled Old Joseph and Young Joseph to renounce Christianity?
  7. Why would Seattle have signed and supported the Treaty of Point Elliott?
  8. In your opinion, is Seattle a suitable or unsuitable namesake for the city named after him? Substantiate your argument.
  9. What western places or objects are named after Old Joseph and Young Joseph or mark important events associated with then? Locate these on a map.
  10. Construct a timeline showing the major events in Nez Perce history from their earliest appearance in the historic record to the present day. What makes the events important enough to be included in the timeline?
  1. Compare Seattle's speeches as recorded by Shaw, Smith and Perry. What internal evidence exists to show that Perry's speech is apocryphal?
  2. Seattle's speech recorded by Smith and Joseph's surrender speech are among the best known examples of Native American oratory. Why would these speeches appeal to Americans of the late 19th century?
  3. Research the Dreamer beliefs propounded by Smohalla. Why would Joseph have found these appealing?
  4. How do present day Native Americans regard Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph? How has this view changed over time?
  5. Compare and contrast the figures of Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph. In what ways are they significantly alike and significantly different?
  6. Research the other Northwestern Native American figures mentioned at the beginning of the essay. How might their contributions be considered as significant as those of Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph?
  7. What factors prevented Chief Seattle and his people from participating in the development of the Puget Sound region in the same manner as the white settlers?
  8. What factors prevented Chief Joseph from succeeding in restoring his people to their homeland despite the favorable impressions he made on so many influential Americans?

About the Author

David M. Buerge was born in Oakland, California, in 1945. He has published several books and numerous articles dealing with the social and religious history of the Northwest in general and of Native Americans in the Seattle area in particular. He is currently writing a biography of Chief Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Mary Anne, and their children and teaches at a private school.


First woven in the 1920s, this USA-made wool blanket has been one of our most popular designs ever since. Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce tribe native to northeastern Oregon in the late 1800s. Widely admired for protecting his people and speaking the truth, he is honored with this design, symbolizing bravery. Bold arrowheads represent the chief's courage, strength and integrity. Reverses for two different looks.

  • Cherry (hot pink): special edition! A portion of the proceeds support breast cancer awareness and treatment in Native American communities. Small ribbon design in bottom right corner.
  • Twin is 64" x 80" Queen is 90" x 90"
  • King is 108" x 90" pattern will be rotated 90°
  • Napped fabric is combed for a softer, thicker feel
  • Felt binding
  • Pure virgin wool/cotton
  • Fabric woven in our American mills
  • Dry clean
  • Made in USA

See More Care Information Learn More

"We soon found that the white men were growing rich very fast, and were greedy." -CHIEF JOSEPH

Joseph died on September 21, 1904. The summer following Joseph’s death, the famous Indian photographer and Joseph’s friend, Edward Curtis went to Nespelem, Washington, to be present at Joseph’s memorial. Curtis got down into the grave and helped bury the chief’s vault.

Curtis wrote: Chief Joseph’s saga is an “unparalleled story in the annals of the Indian's resistance to the greed of the whites. That they made this final effort is not surprising. against such dishonored and relentless objection.”

Why is Chief Joseph important to American history?

Chief Joseph (1840-1904) was a leader of the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce Tribe, who became famous in 1877 for leading his people on an epic flight across the Rocky Mountains. Joseph refused, saying that he had promised his father he would never leave.

One may also ask, what was the purpose of Chief Joseph speech? Out of the great Native American chiefs and warriors who represented bravery, leadership, strength, and military skill, Chief Joseph was known for his heart. On October 5, 1877, his speech, as he surrendered to General Howard, immortalized him in American history forever: "I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed.

Besides, why was the surrender of Chief Joseph important?

Chief Joseph: The Tragic Journey That Led to His Famous Surrender. On October 5, 1877 Chief Joseph and his tribe the Nez Perce surrendered to the U.S. Army. In 1877 the federal government pressured the Nez Perce to give up millions of acres of their homelands to the feed the gold rush.

Why did Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce people leave their homeland?

Chief Joseph led his band of Nez Perce during the most tumultuous period in their history, when they were forcibly removed by the United States federal government from their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon onto a significantly reduced reservation in the Idaho Territory.

Chief Joseph-Cuneiform in America 4000 years ago

For many years I have known about Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe. I learned in school how brave he was during his forced surrender to the US Government. I also had remembered about a square shaped stone that was found with him and that is was very ancient. I recently was reading about Chief Joseph and have found some amazing things that tie in with Book of Mormon Geography. It is well established there are no ancient sheep found in Mesoamerica at the time of the Book of Mormon, but artifacts about sheep have been found in North America. (See Hopewell Artifacts above, and my blog Here.) I found it very interesting that on this square shaped stone was found wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia called cuneiform. It spoke about the purchase of sheep and goats for a sacrifice. In total there are three artifacts found in the USA with the ancient cuneiform script that have been studied by reputable archaeologists and deemed authentic. They are sales receipts for sheep and goats. Amazing. Below are the details.

From “In 1877 the respected leader of the Nez Perce tribe surrendered to the U. S. Government. At his surrender, Chief Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain (known by his Christian name Joseph), presented General Nelson Appleton Miles with a pendant, a 1 inch square clay tablet with writings unrecognizable to General Miles. The writing, which was translated by Dr. Robert D. Biggs, Assyyriology Professor at the University of Chicago, turned out to be a sales receipt dating back to 2042 B.C. in Assyria. It read:

“Nalu received 1 lamb from Abbashaga on the 11th day of the month of the festival of An, in the year Enmahgalanna was installed as high priestess of Nanna.”

Chief Joseph said the tablet had been passed down in his family for many generations. How would his family come into possession of a nearly 4,000-year-old tablet? According to the Chief, they inherited it from their white ancestors.

Other tablets with an Assyrian connection have been found throughout North America. A tablet similar in size and appearance to The Chief Joseph tablet was found in 1963 in northwestern Georgia near the Chattahoochee River. (*Information below) Like the Chief Joseph tablet, this one was a receipt for the sale of sheep and goats that were to be used in a ceremonial sacrifice. From other information contained on the tablet, it appears to have been created in 2040 B.C. One difference is the Georgia tablet was made of lead.

When Chief Joseph surrendered to General Miles, he had the tablet in his medicine bag. That bag was itself an interesting connection to Ancient Assyria.

In an April, 2001 article published in Assyria Times, Benjamin Daniali points out a connection between an Assyrian symbol known as the Ashur Star and the design on Chief Joseph’s medicine bag.

In this photo of an ancient relief sculpture we can see the Assyrian god Ashur upon his throne. In front of him is a disc with the symbol known as the Assyrian Star or the Ashur Star. It is a four-pointed star with a circle in the center. Radiating out from between the four points of the star are rays of light.

In 1971 Assyria adopted a new flag depicting the Assyrian Star.

In photos of Chief Joseph we can see this same design on his medicine bag.

In photos of Chief Joseph we can see this same design on his medicine bag.

How could the Nez Perce and other tribes in North America have 4,000-year-old Assyrian artifacts handed down for generations? Why would Chief Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain have a Star of Ashur beaded on his medicine bag?

Sometime near the beginning of the Assyrian Empire — which ran from 2,500 B.C. to 605 B.C. — a tower was built in Assyria (modern day Iraq) to reach heaven. As a result, languages were confounded and families were scattered.

Mahonri Moriancumer, the brother of Jared, pleaded with the Lord to not confound his language and that of his closest friends. They left Assyria and traveled “across many waters” to a promised land. They became a mighty nation in the place they called Moriancumer. Could the Chief Joseph tablet have come with them across the waters? Could the Jaredites have preserved their language and Assyrian culture in North America?” Copyright © 2015 by Energy Media Works LLC

On October 5, 1877, his speech, as he surrendered to General Howard, immortalized him in American history forever:

In 1904 Chief Joseph died, according to his doctor, of a broken heart.

“I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ He who led the young men [Olikut] 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.” — Chief Joseph —

The Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world a world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations a world longing for the light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at the center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.” Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux (1840-1877)

To understand the significance of Joseph’s Tablet we need to understand more about animal sacrifice.

“Soon after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord gave them the law of sacrifices, which included offering the firstlings of their flocks in a similitude of the sacrifice that would be made of the Only Begotten Son of God (Moses 5:4–8). Thereafter, whenever there were true believers on the earth, with priesthood authority, sacrifices were offered in that manner and for that purpose. This continued until the death of Jesus Christ, which ended the shedding of blood as a gospel ordinance. It is now replaced in the Church by the sacrament of the bread and the water, in remembrance of the offering of Jesus Christ.” LDS Bible Dictionary/Sacrifice

This would mean that the family of the Brother of Jared would be offering sacrifices as we know the Jaredites were one of the most righteous of God’s people. Some members of the church have said to me that the Jaredites did not hold the priesthood and they weren’t even Christian, which I don’t believe. Read this great article which supports my feelings about this: Jared and His Brother
I would appreciate your feedback about this question as well.

“Animal sacrifice was general among the ancient Near Eastern civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia, as well as the Hebrews. Unlike the Greeks, who had worked out a justification for keeping the best edible parts of the sacrifice for the assembled humans to eat, in these cultures the whole animal was normally placed on the fire by the altar and burned, or sometimes it was buried.” Wikipedia here

Adam Placed 4070 BC
Fall of Adam 4004 BC
City of Enoch taken 3313 BC
Noah born 2943 BC
Flood began 2343 BC
Peleg born 2241 BC
Abraham born 2052
Cuneiform tablets 2042 BC
Noah dies 1993 BC
Sodom & Gomorrah 1953 BC
Isaac born 1952 BC
Jacob born 1892 BC
Jared 1830 BC
Jacob/Rachel married 1808 BC
Judah born 1804 BC
Joseph born 1801 BC
Tower destroyed 1780 BC
Ephraim/Manasseh born 1767 BC
Jaredites in N.America 1676 BC
Moses born 1542 BC
10 Commandments 1462 BC
Moses translated 1422 BC
David born 1057 BC
Daniel captive 605 BC
Lehi departs 601 BC
Jaredites destroyed 600 BC

(Bold indicates North America)

About Assyrians

All Things Assyrian From Stews to Stars: the World’s Oldest Writing

In early 2016, hundreds of media outlets around the world reported that a set of recently deciphered ancient clay tablets revealed that Babylonian astronomers were more sophisticated than previously believed. The wedge-shaped writing on the tablets, known as cuneiform, demonstrated that these ancient stargazers used geometric calculations to predict the motion of Jupiter. Scholars had assumed it wasn’t until almost A.D. 1400 that these techniques were first employed–by English and French mathematicians. But here was proof that nearly 2,000 years earlier, ancient people were every bit as advanced as Renaissance-era scholars. Judging by the story’s enthusiastic reception on social media, this discovery captured the public imagination. It implicitly challenged the perception that cuneiform tablets were used merely for basic accounting, such as tallying grain, rather than for complex astronomical calculations. While most tablets were, in fact, used for mundane bookkeeping or scribal exercises, some of them bear inscriptions that offer unexpected insights into the minute details of and momentous events in the lives of ancient Mesopotamians.

First developed around 3200 B.C. by Sumerian scribes in the ancient city-state of Uruk, in present-day Iraq, as a means of recording transactions, cuneiform writing was created by using a reed stylus to make wedge-shaped indentations in clay tablets. Later scribes would chisel cuneiform into a variety of stone objects as well. Different combinations of these marks represented syllables, which could in turn be put together to form words. Cuneiform as a robust writing tradition endured 3,000 years. The script–not itself a language–was used by scribes of multiple cultures over that time to write a number of languages other than Sumerian, most notably Akkadian, a Semitic language that was the lingua franca of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.

After cuneiform was replaced by alphabetic writing sometime after the first century A.D., the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets and other inscribed objects went unread for nearly 2,000 years. It wasn’t until the early nineteenth century, when archaeologists first began to excavate the tablets, that scholars could begin to attempt to understand these texts. One important early key to deciphering the script proved to be the discovery of a kind of cuneiform Rosetta Stone, a circa 500 B.C. trilingual inscription at the site of Bisitun Pass in Iran. Written in Persian, Akkadian, and an Iranian language known as Elamite, it recorded the feats of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great (r. 521� B.C.). By deciphering repetitive words such as “Darius” and “king” in Persian, scholars were able to slowly piece together how cuneiform worked. Called Assyriologists, these specialists were eventually able to translate different languages written in cuneiform across many eras, though some early versions of the script remain undeciphered.

Today, the ability to read cuneiform is the key to understanding all manner of cultural activities in the ancient Near East–from determining what was known of the cosmos and its workings, to the august lives of Assyrian kings, to the secrets of making a Babylonian stew. Of the estimated half-million cuneiform objects that have been excavated, many have yet to be catalogued and translated. Here, a few fine and varied examples of some of the most interesting ones that have been. Source here

Cuneiform in America 4000 years ago

Judging from the artifacts they left behind, the Assyrians and Sumerians made quite an extensive voyage to the Americas about 4000 years ago. This the first installment of a three entry blog that presents the evidence.

Chief Joseph’s Cuneiform Tablet

The most famous piece of evidence passed down among the Nez Perce tribe of Montana was a strange cuneiform tablet known to us as the Chief Joseph Tablet. Housed in the museum at West Point, this tablet was photographed by Warren C. Dexter in 1991, the tablet was taken from—some say gifted by—Chief Joseph when he was captured in 1877.

Chief Joseph, best known for his statement, “I will fight no more forever,” claimed he inherited it from his white ancestors and that it had been in his family for generations. He carried the inch square baked tablet in a medicine pouch with the Star of Ashur, an Assyrian symbol, on it. (That is the subject of my next blog.)

Translated by Professor Robert Biggs of the University of Chicago, the Chief Joseph tablet reads, “Nalu received 1 lamb from Abbashaga on the 11th day of the month of the festival of An, in the year Enmahgalanna was installed as high priestess of Nanna.” That would be 2042 BCE.

Now, some websites claim this tablet is a forgery, to which I would reply: Really? Chief Joseph knew the Assyrian language and wrote in cuneiform, you say. And he knew the history of the priestesses of Nanna, too. So tell me how Chief Joseph came by that knowledge in the 1880s? (That in itself is a good mystery—especially since cuneiform was first deciphered in 1857 in Britian.)

The Hearn Cuneiform Tablet

(*From above) The Hearn tablet was discovered in Georgia in 1963. It is a receipt for sheep and goats intended as sacrifice to the sun god Utu and the goddess Lama Lugal. The scribe, Enlila, states it was the 37 th or 38 th year of the reign of King Suigi of Ur, Sumeria. That dates this tablet to 2040 BCE, two years prior to the Chief Joseph tablet.

The Hearn tablet is made of lead, not clay. There are other lead pieces found on the Hearn property dated to the same time. So it would seem at least this tablet may have been created here in the Americas. Lead smelting and the need to create a receipt for goods exchanged, I would say, indicates a larger presence than just a handful of explorers.

The Shawnee Creek Stone of Oklahoma

The Shawnee Creek Stone is yet a third important discovery.

According to Gloria Farley who was one of the pioneers of the movement to discover and preserve evidence of pre-Columbian trans-Atlantic travel:

“Borrowing the [Shawnee Creek] stone, I made a latex mold and my son Mark Farley obtained a clear photograph, both of which were sent to Dr. Barry Fell. His returning telephone call told me that he believed the find to be of great importance, as the design resembles the seals from ancient Dilmun in the Arabian Gulf. (This is the name which the Arabs give to the Persian Gulf. Dilmun was located mainly on the island of Bahrain.) The inscription, said Dr. Fell, appears to employ the ideographs used by Dilmunian scribes, especially the ones for ‘Inanna, Goddess of Love and Queen of Heaven.’ He told me that Inanna also related to the Sumerians. Sumer is now modern Iraq.”

Molds of the inscription were sent to Ali Akbar H. Bushiri a scholar of ancient Bahrain who wrote about the Dilmun culture. He confirmed that four of the five symbols related to Inanna. We have the circle with 8 rays (the Venus star), the vertical line with semicircle (Inanna), the “U” shape (Nanna, Moon God and father to Inanna), and the vertical line with 2 of 3 bars–the third bar having been chipped off (symbol of fertility).

Who was Inanna?

The reign of Inanna (also spelled Innana) as the Goddess of Love seems to have begun in 5300 BCE (the date for the “founding” of Sumer) and lasted right through the period of Akkadain rule in both Sumer and Assyria (2334-2218). Dilmun is south of Sumer. This places the Shawnee Creek Stone in the same date and geographic range as the two cuneiform tablets, although the stone could also have been much earlier or even later.

So we have one tablet (2042 BCE) that is Assyrian, one tablet (2040 BCE) that is Sumerian and one that is carved stone related to either Sumer or Assyria. All three can be related to one single era—just before the Akkandian rule of both Sumer and Assyria.

The question below should be an easy one. It is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because we know about the Jaredites, Mulekites and Lehites. We know how common it is to travel the ocean anciently. If we could only convince the archaeologists and historians who want to still believe the Bering Strait theory.

How did these artifacts get to America?

It is argued that neither the Sumerian nor the Assyrian people were navigators and could not have made it to America. So how did the tablets come to be found in America?

We need to remember that the Akkadian period began with the conquest of Assyria and Sumeria by Sargon of Akkad. His desire to expand and gain power may have extended to exploration, even across the Atlantic.

But the two cuneiform tablets are dated firmly to 2042 and 2040 BCE and Sargon’s conquest is dated to 2334 BCE. So either the tablets were made in Assyria and Sumeria before the conquest and then brought to America during a later Akkadian exploration, or they were made in America signifying Assyrian/Sumerian exploration before Akkadian rule. In which case, we need to re-examine the statement that the Assyrians and Sumerians were not navigators. Perhaps they did navigate far distances, even across the Atlantic.

And we must remember Chief Joseph claimed his “white ancestors” passed the stone down through the generations. Is it possible that Assyrians and/or Sumerians came to this country to escape Sargon of Akkad and his conquering armies? If so, this would not be the last time the Americas became a haven for those escaping harsh conditions in their motherlands.


Photos of the tablets and some basic information in this blog are from the much quoted articles by Benjamin Daniali of the Assyrian Times.

But for more detailed and substantiated information see: Farley, Gloria (1994). In Plain Sight: Old world records in ancient America. Muskogee, OK: Hoffman Printing Company (pp. 150-155). (There is a picture of the Shawnee Creek stone translation on p. 153.)Search

The Assyrian Times presents this comparison below as well: Source Here:

Additional Reading

The Lost Colonies of Ancient America: A Comprehensive Guide to the Pre Columbian Visitors who really Discovered America

“After Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt of the Wal-lam-wat-kain, a band of Nez Perce Indians, surrendered to units of the U.S. Cavalry near Chinook Chinook in the north of what is now Montana on October 5, 1877, his “medicine bag” containing a 1-inch-square baked clay tablet was stolen. Better remembered as Chief Joseph, he explained that the tablet, engraved on both sides with then inscrutable texts, “had been passed down in his family for many generations, and that they had inherited it from their white ancestors. Chief Joseph said that white men had come among his ancestors long ago, and had taught his people many things.” 34 Today, his ancestral heirloom is still warehoused at New York’s West Point Museum.

In 2000, Robert D. Biggs, an Assyriology professor at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, with a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, and editor of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies , was able to translate the texts of Chief Joseph’s tablet, because they had been inscribed in cuneiform. They recorded the sale of a lamb for sacrifice on behalf of a person named Enmahgalanna to celebrate her promotion as a high priestess of Nanna, the same moon-god enshrined at Ur’s Great Ziggurat. Professor Biggs dated the Sumerian inscription to approximately 2042 BC . 35

Native American pouches such as the one Chief Joseph carried “contained items that would remind the warrior of home, of where he came from,” according to historical writer Mary Gindling. “The mundane nature of the contents of the tablet argues against forgery. Cuneiform had only been deciphered in 1846, and the process was far from complete even in 1877, so a would-be forger would had to have been an extremely well educated individual, familiar not only with the ancient language itself, but with the shape of the tablets created by the ancient scribes.” 36

Not long after the Cherokee artifact came to light, “a Sumerian tablet with cuneiform writing was found beside ancient stone projectile points near Lexington, Georgia,” writes Dr. Thompson. “The tablet is from Ur-Nammuk, Iraq, and dates to 2040 B.C.” 37

Cultural diffusionist researcher Gloria Farley tells of a similar discovery in the same state made by a Mrs. Joe Hearn:

In 1963, while digging a new flower bed on her property in northwestern Georgia, not far from the Chatahoochee River, her shovel had struck a small, pillow-shaped tablet made of lead.… The cuneiform script, according to Dr. Curtis Hoffman, describes how a scribe named Enlila was aware that it was the thirty-seventh or thirty-eighth year of the reign of King Shulgi of Ur, which by our reckoning, would have been about 2040 B.C. It recorded the sale of sheep and goats, which apparently had been transported overseas to America, for sacrifice to Utu, the sun-god, and the goddess, Lama Lugal [a Sumerian deity of intercession and protection]. 38

Although Shulgi actually ruled from 2029 to 1982 BC , Georgia’s Hearn object and Chief Joseph’s tablet both date to within 11 years of each other their discoveries were separated by many hundreds of miles and two centuries, underscoring a common authenticity. LaGrange College, Georgia’s oldest private college, founded in 1831, today owns the Hearn Tablet.

Near Quaker City, Ohio, an amateur Indian arrowhead collector discovered a cuneiform tablet in 1978. Its ancient provenance was established by David Owen, professor of Near Eastern studies at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. He translated the Sumerian text, which had been composed “by a man named Ur-e’e in the month of Dumuzi [late June], in the year the ensi [ruler] of Karzida was elevated.” 39 Karzida was the second city of worship for Nanna, the same moon-god likewise referenced by the inscription on Chief Joseph’s tablet, suggesting a relationship between his family heirloom and the Quaker City find, which came to light years after his death. That relationship is remarkably cogent to our discussion, because they, together with the Lexington and Hearn tablets, were all inscribed within 12 years of each other, between 2042 and 2030 BC . They define the most appropriate segment of time for voyages to America, because it matches the dynamic outset of the Ur III Period, or “Sumerian Renaissance.”

It began in 2047 BC , just after the Sumerians liberated themselves from Akkadian domination and experienced their most energetic outward expansion, as exampled by the specimen of South African resin found in Queen Puabi’s tomb at Ur. “Many such Ur III tablets have been found in the U.S.,” states Professor Owen, “including some tablets dug up a few years ago from the ruins of an old apartment house in Auburn, New York.” 40

So many tablets spread over half a continent—from Montana to Georgia, Ohio, and New York—do not suggest some lone survivor of shipwreck, blown far off course during some otherwise-normal trading mission in the Middle East, but indicate rather the deliberate arrival of numerous Sumerian visitors, all from the same capital of Ur’s Third Dynasty.” The Lost Colonies of Ancient America, A Comprehensive Guide to the Pre-Columbian Visitors Who Really Discovered America Page 36-39

34 Gindling, Mary. “History Mystery: Chief Joseph’s Cuneiform Tablet” ( , 2009).
35 Biggs, Robert D. “History Mystery.”
36 . Gindling. “History Mystery: Chief Joseph’s Cuneiform Tablet.”
37 . Thompson, American Discovery
38 . Farley, Gloria. “History Mystery.”
39 . Tiel, William. “Two Enigmatic Stones from Ohio,” Ancient American , vol. 9, no. 58 (August 2004).
40 . Although they agree that the four cuneiform tablets are authentically Sumerian, mainstream archaeologists dismiss them as insignificant. As described in Lost Civilizations , “Professor Owen ‘suggests that we are not to make too much of the (Quaker City) find,’ since ‘tablets of this type were sold throughout the U.S. in the early years of this (the 20th) Century, and have shown up in various places, including garbage dumps and garage sales.’ That does not explain Chief Joseph’s tablet, which became public knowledge in 1877, more than twenty years before the alleged importation of Sumerian relics, nor the Hearn Tablet, which was dug up on property consistently owned by the discoverer’s family since 1850. The Quaker City tablet itself was excavated from a depth of some two feet amid a cluster of Indian arrowheads—hardly the setting for a misplaced trinket from the early 20th Century. Moreover, a thorough Internet search by this author failed to turn up any suggestion that brisk sales in authentic cuneiform tablets occurred in the United States during the early 1900s, as Professor Owen stated without proof.” Source Here:

The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to have been a nascent empire. The Third Dynasty of Ur is commonly abbreviated as Ur III by historians studying the period.

The Oklahoma Runestones If the tales told by the old-timers are correct, Oklahoma may once have contained dozens of runestones. Five of these have been found. This chapter discusses their discovery and possible meanings. Also, other possible runestones from Oklahoma and Arkansas are discussed.

The Lord will remember the Jew, the Lamanite, and the Native Americans

D&C 19:26-27 And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it feely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and works of God.

27: Which is my word to the Gentile, that soon it may go to the Jew, of whom the Lamanites are a remnant that they may believe the gospel, and look not for a Messiah to come who has already come.

In Alma 24:19 And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin, and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.

“The converted Lamanite is devout. Few ever apostatize. Some lose their way as they partake of the worldliness about them, but generally the children of Lehi of the twentieth century have inherited that grace and ability to believe like their ancestors of the long ago. We read in Hel. 6:36: ‘And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words’” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 178 emphasis added).

“The Lamanites must rise again in dignity and strength to fully join their brethren and sisters of the household of God in carrying forth his work in preparation for that day when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to lead his people, when the millennium will be ushered in, when the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory and its lands be united and become one land. For the prophets have said, ‘The remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land and it shall be a land of their inheritance and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.’ (Eth. 13:8.) “In this I have great faith.” Spencer W. Kimball (“Our Paths Have Met Again,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, p 5, 7.)

“Have you ever tried to recover something that you have lost in your memory all at once, as you strain and struggle, here it comes back? That is the way the Gospel is to the Lamanites. One good Navajo man said to me: “All our lives we knew that we were off line. We used to be with you folks in the long ago then we came to a division in the road with a great stone in the middle. We went one way and you went the other, but now we are around it and we are all coming back together (Lamanite Conference April 24, 1971 President Kimball).

Ether 13:8 “Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land and it shall be a land of their inheritance and they (Lamanites) shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old… (In parenthesis added)

Alma 9:16-17
16- For there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites for it because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them and prolong their existence in the land.
17- And at some period of time they will be brought to believe in word, and to know of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers and many of them will be saved, for the Lord will be merciful unto all who call on his name.

“And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved.” (D&C 3:18–20.)

“The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians, having been found through the ministration of an holy Angel translated into our own Language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years containing the word of God, which was delivered unto them, By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the Land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come. with as many of the gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem.”

In July of 1866 Elder Wilford Woodruff said the following: “If the Elders of Israel had always treated the Lamanites as they should, I do not believe that we should have had any difficulty with them at all. This is my firm conviction, and my conclusion according to the light that is in me. I believe that the Lord permits them to chasten us at the present time to convince us that we have to overcome the vindictive feelings which we have harbored towards that poor, downtrodden branch of the House of Israel.”

Where to Stay & Other Services

There are no services or lodging along the route. Cooke City, on the border of Yellowstone National Park, is just fourteen miles away from the western end point of the drive and has plenty of places to find lodging and buy supplies. Cody lies about twenty miles south of the eastern starting point of the drive, too.

There are several developed campgrounds along the route, although the best ones are located off the scenic byway, on the various roads that head deeper into the National Forest lands. There are also many spots for primitive camping due to the open nature of the terrain.

Watch the video: Oldest Native American footage ever (June 2022).


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