Ancestor: Hin-Mah-Too-Yah-Lat-Kekht, Chief Joseph
Descendent: Marci B.
As I research my Nez Perce family history, I have come across many articles of my ancestor Chief Joseph. As Chief Joseph once said "My heart is sick and sad" and mine is. I have read many articles about the Nez Perce flight from their homelands in the Wallows to Montana. I can only imagine the pain and suffering on the elders, the women, the children. Ancestor Chief Joseph went from town to town and encountered trouble. Due to the telegraphs that were sent about the "savages and hostile Indians that were on their way,” they were always met with battles. The freedom he wanted for his people was never met. Their voice of concerns was never met.
They were sent to Oklahoma after the Battle ended at Bear Paw. Ancestor Chief Joseph could not bear to see the wounded men and women suffer much longer. He gave his surrender speech “From Where the Sun Now Stands” with a heavy heart. They say my ancestor died from a broken heart on September 21, 1904. The only dream he achieved was being buried in the land he loved at Nespelem, Washington.
Today I research and read the many articles printed about my ancestor and have walked away from these stories with a sad and upset feeling, as I pictured what he endured as he traveled across the mountains avoiding the troops who chased after them, day by day, nightfall after nightfall. Over time, General Miles made statements about the Nez Perce and that they did not scalp the dead or torture the prisoners. Yet the Nez Perce were the savages.
Before the death of Chief Joseph's father, he divided all of his valuable historical articles between the brothers, Joseph and Ollocut. Later in Joseph's life he met L.V. McWhorter, a historian, who assisted Chief Joseph in writing the history of the Nez Perce Campaign and Joseph had hoped that it would prove to be of great value.
Today the history of the Nez Perce is more than valuable. It is written in stone to be shared from one generation to the next. I am compiling as much of this history as I can to leave to the next generation so they too will know the truth. I am a descendent of Chief Joseph and proud to be in the same family tree that I continue to add names of our ancestors. My goal is to link all of our Nez Perce people. We are one family. My ancestor Chief Joseph made a heart-breaking speech, "I will fight no more forever" and he didn't. He refused to abandon his Nez Perce culture and religion. My ancestor Chief Joseph is still here, his spirit roams all over his land. The land he fought hard for and many warriors died for.