Yesterday we were in Lewiston Idaho, it’s absolutely beautiful there. We played Sunday night at the Clearwater River Casino and had a great time. There is a beautiful river there swarming with salmon, low lying hills that could be a multitude of paintings. It reminds me of some of the scenes in “Dances With Wolves.” There is much of our country’s history in those hills and rivers. When we go through there again I would like to spend some time fishing and seeing the country. Without this land and its people the American west wouldn’t be what it is today.
The people here are an amazing people and it reminds me of some of those in Oklahoma, which I share a small portion of blood with, the Cherokee. With such a proud, strong lineage and history The Nez Perce are truly one of the greatest tribes ever to live!
And this is how it is said they began.
“There was once a monster, which lived in the valley of the Clearwater River near Kamiah. This beast devoured all the animals that lived in the country for miles around and became such a menace that Coyote, that clever hero of many an Indian myth, decided it must be killed. Arming himself with a flint knife, he jumped down the animal's throat and stabbed it in the heart. Then he cut the body up into pieces and from them fashioned tribes of Indians, which he sent to occupy the mountains and plains round about. Finally, he discovered that he did not have a tribe for the beautiful valley in which the monster had lived, so he squeezed a few drops of blood from the heart and from this made the Nez Perce. Thus from the lifeblood of this strange animal came a tribe having many of the most admirable qualities possessed by human beings.”
William Clark was the first settler to meet these people, his men were hungry and out of supplies as they headed west. The kindness of the Nez Perce fed them and helped them take the river all the way to the Pacific. It is said that at one time the Nez Perce had the biggest herd of horses on the continent, and they lived among 16 million acres…That is amazing!
We all know the story of passing treaties and continuous bad treatment the native tribes received from our government, it is such an embarrassing part of American history. The story of the Nez Perce rings the same.
In the mid 19th century, when the tribe was mandated to be forced to a reservation they were the last of all native American tribes to fight back. Chief Joseph led his people on a 1700-mile strategic retreat to Canada fighting 13 battles. After surrendering, Chief Joseph stated his famous quote: "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."
Now the Nez Perce live on a little more than a thousand square miles…
What can be said of the dark parts of our history to make good on our failures? I don’t know, but hopefully from our mistakes we can and must learn that we are all the same.
How amazing it would be to sit and visit with great men like Chief Joseph and Chief Looking Glass. I bet they would have some great stories to tell!
I’ll leave you with something from Chief Joseph:
“I hope that no more groans of wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.”