Chief Joseph: trail of glory & sorrow
By: Meyers, Ted
Binding: Trade Paper
Size: 8.5" X 5.5"
Publication Date: 2016
This great Chief’s Indian name Heinmot’tooyalakekt meant “Thunder Traveling to High Places Then Returning”. He received it from his Father who considered thunder he heard shortly after his son’s birth to be an omen from the Great Spirit. As an omen it had validity.
Joseph, as he became known to settlers and historians, led his people in a revolt against mandatory resettlement in 1877. He was never a war chief; he was a civic chief but his diplomatic skills were ignored or swept aside by Washington bureaucrats and politicians in a series of Treaty betrayals and broken promises. By 1877 Joseph and three allied chiefs had suffered enough and he led his people on a five month trek that exceeded 1500 miles through what are now the States of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. At every step, with less than 200 warriors, he defeated and humiliated Washington’s great Army of the Northwest until finally, with safety in Canada a mere 45 miles away his people, hungry and without adequate supplies, could resist no longer. Although more than 300 of the refugees escaped to Canada, Joseph and the remainder sued for peace. He made an honorable agreement with the two generals involved but that pact was also torn up by their political masters in Washington. The sub-title, Trail of Glory and Sorrow, tells the story in one line. The first part of his trail is The Glory and the second part is The Sorrow.
Although several books about this illustrious chief have been written most cover only segments of his life. None cover the entire Trail from his birth c.1840 to his death in 1904. None explain the reasons for the revolt or the aftermath. None cast the blame upon those most responsible for the revolt – two US Presidents, several State and Territorial Governors, three ranking generals, a rogue missionary and dozens of minor federal bureaucrats. This book covers the entire Trail of Glory and Sorrow.
18 Feb 2018- Roundup Magazine, Vol XXV No 3
Sandwiched between the Author's Note, Quotes, Preface, Introduction, Prologue and Appendices A through M, Timeline, Bibliography, Index, Acknowledgements and Maps, and interspersed with copious chapter endnotes and 50-some pages of glossy photos in the middle is a big book about legendary Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph. Relying on contemporary Nez Perce, military, civilian, newspaper and other published accounts, the author paints a well-written and vivid portrait of Chief Joseph, chronicling his extraordinary accomplishments while putting ot rest much of the mythology that has grown up and flourished around his memory.
Jane Candia Coleman
July 2017- Southern Arizona News Examiner
As a boy, Canadian writer and historian Ted Meyers became fascinated with the history and legends of the Northwest Native American tribes. He discovered Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe at age eight and his fascination never waned. His recent work, “Chief Joseph: Trail of Glory and Sorrow is the result of over twenty five years of research, interviews, and on-site knowledge. And what a thorough and monumental work it is! The Appendices alone make fascinating reading, and the photographs of chiefs, warriors and battlefields are riveting and, as with so many battlefields -The Little Big Horn comes to mind – ghost ridden.
The Nez Perce bands had lived in Eastern Washington and Southern Oregon for centuries until the arrival of the white man and the long finger of Washington bureaucracy succumbed to greed. In 1845, Old Joseph, the father of then young Joseph and his brother Ollokot, moved his band from the mission at Lapwai to the Wallowa Valley. The Walla Walla Treaty was ratified by Congress in 1859, but gold was discovered shortly thereafter. In 1863, Washington stepped in and made changes to the original treaty, reducing the land held by the Nez Perce by 90 percent, a horrendous decision. In 1871 Old Joseph died leaving leadership of the band to his two sons, Ollokot who became war chief, and Joseph who became “civil chief”. It is important to note that although Joseph was engaged in battles, he was never “warrior.” His position was to see to the safety and welfare of his people and to care for the horses and stock that belonged to them, which he did until the end of his life.
In early 1877, General Oliver Howard was sent to persuade the band to leave the Wallowa Valley and return to Lapwai. That Howard hadn’t the faintest understanding or regard for the Nez Perce – or any other tribe – becomes obvious. Still, the people agreed to the move and arrangements were made. As with so many plans, the move went awry when some white settlers raided the horse band and made off with many. Angered, fifteen warriors went out and killed eleven of the settlers. And such was the beginning of the long and arduous trip taken by the Nez Perce who, chased from their home and battled by U.S. troops across Idaho and into Montana, hoped to find safety in Canada. Through it all, Chief Joseph cared for and fought for his people, finally surrendering to General Howard after the battle at Bear Paw, Montana on October 5, 1877. It was there that he spoke the words that echo down the years. “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
His fight to protect his people, however, was far from over. They were moved from Montana to North Dakota and from there to Fort Leavenworth Kansas, where they were left in squalor for 8 months, and where many died of malaria. From there they were transported to “Indian Territory” in Oklahoma. He remained there until 1885 when he was taken to Colville, Washington and where he died in September 1904 without ever being allowed to return to his beloved Wallowa Valley. This is a book that must be read and re-read for its tragedy, for the courage and leadership Chief Joseph demonstrated throughout his life. It belongs in every library, on the shelf of anyone interested in the American West, in the story of a brave and dedicated leader of his people. Joseph himself, and all of us, owe thanks to Ted Meyers who has indeed written a monumental book.
Jane Candia Coleman and Ted Meyers will be guests on an upcoming Voices of the West program heard at voicesofthewest.net.
Green Valley News, July 29 2017
There are far too few accounts of the Native Americans and their travails battling the U.S. Government. One group, in particular, has suffered from a lack of scrutiny. The Apache, the Sioux, Cochise and Sitting Bull have had their due. "Chief Joseph" chronicles the great Nez Perce leader who fought well and led his people on a arduous trek of 1,500 miles that traversed Oregon, Idaho and Montana to perceived safety in Canada in 1877. The journey was complicated by a pursuing U.S. Army. Ted Myers spent a decade laying out this massive tribute to Joseph, a significant and final Indian champion. His research and detail are overwhelming. Scores of previously unpublished facts are awash in "Chief Joseph."
The Nez Perce story is laced with betrayals of both the U.S. and Canadian governments. Myers details the 1877 war and the many events that led to the final conclusion. Chief Joseph, at long last, receives proper historical attention. Kudos to my longtime colleague from the Western Canadian Province, British Columbia. This book is a must read for those of us who are compelled to learn the history of the West.