“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.”
Resistance to the whites continued. In the fall of 1877, the Nez Perce ended roughly
a 1,700-mile retreat across four states. They were chilled, wounded and dying when
the whites surrounded. Of the original 800 Indians, those who remained had survived
battles at White Bird Canyon, Clearwater River, Big Hole and Bear Paw. While some
accepted new reservation boundaries in present-day Idaho, other tribal members refused
to leave the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. The resistance led to a war in which the
Nez Perce were greatly outnumbered. His clothing punctured by bullets, 37-year-old
Chief Joseph gave up his rifle and surrendered, ending the major Native resistance
to white settlement in the Northwest.
After the surrender, the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce settled on the Colville
Indian Reservation. Chief Joseph died there of natural causes in 1904. He is buried
in Nespelem, Washington.
Click photo to enlarge