An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs
An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs. In 1879, Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Percé Indians, delivered a speech in Lincoln Hall, Washington, D.C., to a distinguished audience including President Rutherford B. Hayes. Two years earlier, U.S. troops tracked Joseph and his people on a 1,700-mile trek through the Far West as they sought to escape to Canada after fights with settlers encroaching on tribal lands in Oregon and Idaho. After four months, the Indians were forced to surrender and removed to Oklahoma.
The speech was delivered in the Nez Percé language and then translated by an interpreter. An unidentified reporter took down the interpreter’s version and passed it to an influential magazine, The North American Review, for publication. Whether the words are precisely those delivered by Joseph may be open to question, but the sentiments are certainly his. Joseph condemned the policy of confining Indians to reservations. Speaking in a hall named for the Great Emancipator, he appealed to the ideals of freedom and equal rights before the law so powerfully reinforced by the Civil War and Reconstruction. Until he died in 1904, Joseph would unsuccessfully petition successive presidents for his people’s right to return to their beloved Oregon homeland.
Read the attached document and answer the following questions:
- What are Joseph’s main complaints about the treatment of his people?
- How does Chief Joseph define what it means to be a “free man”?