It does not require many words to speak the truth.
Sun, August 19, 2007 - 2:33 PM
At last I was granted permission to come to Washington and bring my friend Yellow Bull and our interpreter with me. I am glad I came. I have shaken hands with a good many friends, but there are some things I want to know which no one seems able to explain. I cannot understand how the Government sends a man out to fight us, as it did General Miles, and then breaks his word. Such a government has something wrong about it. I cannot understand why so many chiefs are allowed to talk so many different ways, and promise so many different things. I have seen the Great Father Chief [President Hayes]; the Next Great Chief [Secretary of the Interior]; the Commissioner Chief; the Law Chief; and many other law chiefs [Congressmen] and they all say they are my friends, and that I shall have justice, but while all their mouths talk right I do not understand why nothing is done for my people. I have heard talk and talk but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father's grave. They do not pay for my horses and cattle. Good words do not give me back my children. Good words will not make good the promise of your war chief, General Miles. Good words will not give my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk. Too many misinterpretations have been made; too many misunderstandings have come up between the white men and the Indians. If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect all rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. If you tie a horse to a stake, do you expect he will grow fat? If you pen an Indian up on a small spot of earth and compel him to stay there, he will not be contented nor will he grow and prosper. I have asked some of the Great White Chiefs where they get their authority to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men going where they please. They cannot tell me.
Chief Joseph (Hinmaton Yalatkit)
I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indians see things. The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but it does not require many words to speak the truth.
Chief Joseph (Hinmaton Yalatkit)
Real Name: Hinmaton Yalatkit
Profile: Hinmaton Yalatkit (pronounced: Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht) "Thunder Rolling in the Heights", (1840? - 1904), Cheif of the Nez Percé Indians. He was a peace-minded, eloquent political leader and acclaimed military genius. His humane conduct won the admiration of many.
In 1877 the U.S. attempted to force the Nez Percé to move to a reservation in Idaho. Chief Joseph at first agreed but later decided instead to lead 750 of his followers on a trek to Canada. During the three-month, 1,300-mile journey, he brilliantly outmaneuvered and outfought federal troops. He defeated the U.S. Army in 7 major battles before being surrounded and surrendering within 40 miles of sanctuary, the Canadian border. Subsequently the Nez Percé were moved to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In 1885 they were relocated to the Colville Reservation in Washington state where Cheif Joseph lived for the remainder of his life.
"We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that he never forgets; that hereafter he will give every man a spirit-home according to his deserts. This I believe, and all my people believe the same." - Joseph Hinmaton Yalatkit, Nez Perce' Chief
Suppose a white man should come to me and say, "Joseph, I like your horses. I want to buy them." I say to him, "No, my horses suit me; I will not sell them." Then he goes to my neighbor and says to him, "Joseph has some good horses, I want to buy them, but he refuses to sell." My neighbor answers, "Pay me the money and I will sell Joseph's horses. The white man returns to me as says, "Joseph, I have bought your horses and you must let me have them."
If we sold our lands to the government, this is the way they bought them.