By 1876, the tension between the native residents and the new residents had become strained. The Secretary of Interior appointed a five-man commission consisting of General Howard, Colonel H. Clay Wood, and three Easterners to settle the differences. In November 1876, they met here at Fort Lapwai. The negotiations stuck on a familiar theme: the Nez Perce did not understand the whites' law about why they were bound by a treaty they had not signed; the whites did not understand Nature's laws about the importance of the earth as the mother of all living beings.

The Indian Commissioners departed on Wednesday without Joseph coming to any terms. They all got indignant at him at last and threatened him.... He said he was ready for them.... General Howard says Joseph has taken the course to make him lose all sympathy for him, and next summer, if the trouble in the Wallowa is brought up again, he will send out two men to Joseph's one — no matter how many he raises — and whip him to submission. Delightful prospect for us whose husbands will probably be in the fight, isn't it?

Emily FitzGeraid
Army doctor's wife
November 19, 1876



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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