In 1871 Old Chief Joseph died at this summer campsite for the Wallowa band.

This landscape has changed little from the days before contact with non-Indians.

The junction of the Lostine and Wallowa rivers was where the Wallowa band made their summer camp.

Soon after this my father sent for me. I saw he was dying. I took his hand in mine. He said, "My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more, and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.' I pressed my father's hand, and told him I would protect his grave with my life. My father smiled and passed away to the spirit land. I buried him in that beautiful valley of Winding Waters. I love that land more than all the rest of the world. A man who would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.

Chief Joseph

Chief Old Joseph was originally buried between the forks of the Wallowa and Lostine rivers. After the Nez Perce left the Wallowa, his grave was twice robbed. His skull was stolen by a dentist in the first robbery and displayed in his office in Baker, Oregon. In 1926 Old loseph's remains were moved and reburied at Wallowa Lake.
"Tuekakas" Chief Old Joseph
Tuekakas was a young man when Lewis and Clark traveled through Nez Perce country. Later, he converted to Christianity and was baptized as Joseph. He is called Old Joseph to distinguish him from his famous son, Chief Joseph.

Old Joseph signed the Treaty of 1855 which set aside seven million acres for the Nez Perce Reservation. Eight years later, he would not sign the Treaty of 1863 reducing Nez Perce land. His life spanned the era when the Nez Perce believed they and the United States coexisted as two independent sovereign nations.

I learned then that we were but few, while the white men were many, and that we could not hold our own with them. We were like deer. They were like grizzly bears. We had a small country. Their country was large. We were contented to let things remain as the Great Spirit Chief made them. They were not; and would change the rivers and mountains if they did not suit them.

Chief Joseph



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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