CHIEF JOSEPH Biography - Royalty, Rulers & leaders


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Chief Joseph, known by his people as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder coming up       
over the land from the water), was best known for his resistance to the U.S.         
Government's attempts to force his tribe onto reservations. The Nez Perce were a     
peaceful nation spread from Idaho to Northern Washington. The tribe had             
maintained good relations with the whites after the Lewis and Clark expedition.     
Joseph spent much of his early childhood at a mission maintained by Christian       
In 1855 Chief Joseph's father, Old Joseph, signed a treaty with the U.S. that       
allowed his people to retain much of their traditional lands. In 1863 another       
treaty was created that severely reduced the amount of land, but Old Joseph         
maintained that this second treaty was never agreed to by his people.               
A showdown over the second "non-treaty" came after Chief Joseph assumed his role     
as Chief in 1877. After months of fighting and forced marches, many of the Nez       
Perce were sent to a reservation in what is now Oklahoma, where many died from       
malaria and starvation.                                                             
Chief Joseph tried every possible appeal to the federal authorities to return       
the Nez Perce to the land of their ancestors. In 1885, he was sent along with       
many of his band to a reservation in Washington where, according to the             
reservation doctor, he later died of a broken heart.