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Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce

Last of the Indian Wars

Michael Rieg

on 19 November 2015

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Transcript of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce

"Fight no more forever."
Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce formally surrender on October 5, 1877
40 Miles from the Canadian border.
Thunder rolling down the mountain
Nez Perce reservation from Oregon to Idaho
Chief Joseph
My father was the first to see through the schemes of the white men....He said: “My son...when I am gone...you are the chief of these people....Always remember that your father never sold his country....This country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and mother."

I pressed my father’s hand and told him I would protect his grave with my life....A man who would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.
Chief Joseph
In 1863, following a gold rush into Nez Percé territory, the federal government took back almost six million acres of this land, restricting the Nez Percé to a reservation in Idaho that was only one tenth its prior size.
Joseph staunchly resisted all efforts to force his band onto the small Idaho reservation.
The army began to pursue Joseph's band and the others who had not moved onto the reservation. Although he had opposed war, Joseph cast his lot with the war leaders.
Throughout the 1,400 mile march, the Indians displayed a courage and skill that elicited universal praise... "[they] fought with almost scientific skill, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications." In over three months, the band of about 700, fewer than 200 of whom were warriors, fought 2,000 U.S. soldiers and Indian auxiliaries in four major battles and numerous skirmishes.
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
At a point below zero
There's no place left to go
Six hundred unknown heroes
Were killed like sleeping buffalo
Through the devil's canyon
Across the battlefield
Death has no companion
The spirit is forced to yield
There goes the bandolero
Through the hole in the wall
He's a coward but he don't care though
In fact, he don't care at all
The general that's commanding
He's defending what he fears
While the troops they are depending
On reinforcements from the rear
If God is in the heavens
How could this happen here?
In His name, they used the weapons
For the massacre
There is a point below zero
Where the sun can see the land
Six hundred unknown heroes
Lie dead in the sand
Oliver Otis Howard
"Whensoever hostile aggressions . . . require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies."
Thomas Jefferson
"Most of the history books given to children pass quickly over it."
Historian Howard Zinn
Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy
"The progress of civilization and improvement, the triumph of industry and art, by which these regions have been reclaimed, and over which freedom, religion, and science are extending their sway. A barbarous people, depending for subsistence upon the scanty and precarious supplies furnished by the chase, cannot live in contact with a civilized community."
Secretary of War-Lewis Cass
Sound familiar?
"I shall consider that you want to fight, and will send my soldiers to drive you on."
General Oliver Howard
Wounded Knee, SD
1890 End of sn Era
"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence."

Martin Luther King accepting Nobel Peace Prize 1964
The Transformation
Lands that were new to Lewis and Clark were actually very old.
Ancient Indian civilizations go back to the times of the ancient Romans and Greeks.
Europeans were the latest newcomers in a long history of migration and change across this region.
There were French traders in the north and Spanish missionaries in the south.
They were not interested in settling large amounts of territory, rather they wanted resources and influence among the Indians.
Means of transport
Mode of travel
Weapon in war
3 things Europeans brought with them affected Indian society in a profound way:
1. Horses
2. Guns
3. Disease
Horses allowed Indians to expand their territory
Led to clashes over land and resources
Guns made these conflicts more deadly
Smallpox, chicken pox, cholera, measles, and other illnesses took a toll on native societies
"I will fight no more forever"
1. Break up communal landholding
2. Bribe some
3. Leave others out
4. Introduce competition
5. Bring them into "civilzation"
6. Push them West
7. Exterminate
Social Darwinism
U.S. highly civilized
Superior to all others
Anglo Americans chosen to bring civilization to others
Our Manifest Destiny to expand across the continent
1830 Indian Removal Act
Why do we celebrate this man?
Video in bookmarks
by Thin Lizzy
The Associated Press revealed in July 2013 that former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels asked for assurance from his education advisors that Zinn's works were not taught in K-12 public schools in the state. Daniels also wanted a "cleanup" of K-12 professional development courses to eliminate "propaganda and highlight (if there is any) the more useful offerings." Should government determine what and how history is being taught in our schools?
European Americans
Native Americans
Concept of land
Reasons for
wanting land
Reasons for
Viewed in terms of
monetary value: farms,
gold, coal; no religious
meaning; strong belief
in individual land ownership
Viewed in terms of religious
value; no monetary significance;
didn't believe the land could
be owned
Space for farms; find gold;
promise of free land
Religious reasons; lived there
for centuries; place to hunt
Settlers purchased land,
but Native Americans didn't
recognize this; Indian attacks;
Lack of understanding of
Native American lifestyle.
Depletion of food supply;
destruction of sacred grounds;
massacres; confusing treaties;
spread of disease; misuse of
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