Joseph (Hinmatooyahlaht'qet, Lightening or thunder traveling to loftier heights, also interpreted as horse running across the water and the sound of "thunder" bouncing of the cliffs)

"Young" Joseph was born in a cave on Joseph Creek sometime in 1840. He was the son of Tue kas kas and Etoweenonmy (?). Young Joseph was the eventual successor to his father, as the leader of the Wel'ewa band, which occupied the Wallowa-Imnaha areas. Young Joseph was a prominent figure in the negotiations that led up to the Nez Perce War of 1877. Although, not being present at the 1863 treaty negotiations when other "chiefs" sold his land without his consent, Joseph did take part in the tumultuous negotiations on May 3, 1877 at Fort Lapwai.

It was during these proceedings, which resulted in Tuu hul hul cuut being jailed by Howard and the Non-treaty bands given 30 days to gather their possessions and move to the new reservation or else be moved there by force.

With the onset of what was to be known as the Nez Perce War of 1877 and the eventual involvement of the Wel'ewa band, Joseph gained much recognition as a strategist and "war chief." There is no doubt about Joseph's skill as a statesman and an orator, but there is some question about his role as a war leader. Joseph and much of the remaining non-treaty bands eventually surrendered at Snake Creek, near the Bear Paw Mountains on October 5, 1877. It was then he delivered the famous words, which came to symbolize the resistance of Indian people and the end of the era of the "Indian Wars."

The remnants of the Non-treaty bands were then removed to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and then finally to "Indian Territory" in what is now Oklahoma. After several trips to Washington D.C., Joseph and his followers were sent back to the Northwest in 1885, some going to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho and others to the Colville Reservation at Nespelem, Washington. Joseph died at 5:45 P.M. September 14, 1904 at Nespelem, Washington.

Image: Nez Perce Chief Joseph poses with decorated sash, Bismark, North Dakota, 1877; Photographer: Goff, O. S. (Orlando Scott), 1843-1917.

Number: NA876; Collection: General Indian Collection no. 564; Contributor: University of Washington Libraries; Repository: University of Washington Libraries. Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives Division.


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