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Printed Stories
Printed Stories

"Chief Joseph."


SCULPTURE labors under the disadvantage of having in most cases to carry out
a subject or make a likeness at the bidding of some one else besides the
artist himself. In painting there is more chance for an independent choice
of topic, though the painted portrait is usually undertaken under the same
hampering bonds. Luckily Mr. Olin I. Warner, while travelling in the West,
happened to be on the Cherokee Reservation when Chief Joseph, the famous
leader of the Nez Perces, was expected at army head-quarters. He waited
until the old chief arrived, and used such arguments that in the course of
several sittings he obtained the bass-relief medallion which is here to be
seen [illustration omitted]. It was shown at the National Academy last
spring, but hardly received the place and the attention it deserved. The
portrait is a true labor of love on the part of the sculptor, and while it
gives one of the many types of our North-American Indians, is said to be an
excellent likeness of the warrior.

The remnant of the Nez Perces to which Joseph belongs are now on a portion
of the Cherokee Reservation, purchased in 1878 from the Cherokees. It is a
square containing about 91,000 acres, lying across the Salt Fork of the
Arkansas River, just above that which was bought for the Poncas. They have
the Poncas on the east, and the Otoes and Missourias on the southeast.
Kansas lies well to the north, and one crosses the big Osage Reservation
when approaching it from the eastward. After their capitulation to General
Miles in 1877, the remnant of the tribe, numbering 431 souls, were taken to
Fort Leavenworth, where the location of their camp was so unhealthy that
they lost many by disease. They were removed to their reservation on the
Salt Fork in 1879, whence it has been proposed to move them again, in
pursuance of the hand-to-hand policy which has affected Cherokees, Osages,
and other larger nations in their gradual removal to the West before the
swarming settlers. It was probably because of business relating to the
further removal of the Indians that Chief Joseph came within range of our
sculptor, and found himself immortalized in clay. Though he had ridden hard
for many days to reach head-quarters, the old chief was fresh and alert.
But, curiously enough, he found that sitting for his portrait was quite a
different task from sitting a horse. Mr. Warner says that it wearied Chief
Joseph exceedingly, far more than it does white men who are much less

The Nez Perce belonged in what is now the State of Idaho, and the greater
part of the tribe remained on reservations in that Territory. A few years
ago several thousands were flourishing in the northern part of the
Territory, having farms, schools, and churches. Other accounts make them out
as debased by drink and the vices of white adventurers. A minority of the
Nez Perces never agreed to the cession of their lands, and occupied the army
for some months at various times in making them submit. The name given the
Nez Perces by the French coureurs de bois is singularly inappropriate, as
they do not mutilate their noses, and seem never to have done so as a tribe,
whatever may have been the fashion in some branch of their kindred. The
Sahaptins, for example, who have given the name to a congeries of tribes
including the Nez Perces, are said to have bored the nose in order to carry
a nose ornament like the Hindoo women and some tribes of Brazil.

Chief Joseph calls himself Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht, and the tribe is said
to use Numepo as their preferred title, though nomenclature among Indians is
a parlous thing, many names at the same time and different names at
different epochs being the fashion with them individually and in the mass.
He is a very high type of Indian as regards brains and courage, but he
possesses many of the peculiarities of the savage. His eyes are dull and his
features stolid as a rule, but if a bird passes, an animal makes a sound in
the bush, an insect comes within earshot or eyesight, something happens in
that vacant look. Things that we do not regard have hidden meanings to him,
either in connection with the weather, or by reason of superstitions which
link certain results with certain appearances, or because the sight of one
animal or insect has to do with the presence or the absence of another. The
sculptor says that only when some beast, bird, or insect was in sight did
the old chief look the warrior and the Indian. When that was gone he
relapsed into the apparently unthinking state of an animal, and showed very
plainly that to remain in one position while the clay was modelling itself
under the artist's fingers was a penance greater than to wait immovable for
hours until game revealed itself or an enemy crept in sight.

Chief Joseph belongs to the light-colored Indians. As most people are aware,
the native races vary in tint from a brown that approaches the blackness of
a negro to a light coffee-color not so dark as many Europeans. The Quichuas
of Peru are very black, and the Heidahs of Queen Charlotte and Blackfeet of
the Saskatchewan are fair. The Pammas of Brazil are lighter than many
Spaniards and Portuguese, while the Iroquois and Algonquin tribes are
coppery or light brown. But what is often overlooked is the apparent
unimportance of climate on the color of the Indians under the arctic circle
or at the equator. Were it not for the broad plaits of hair and absence of
beard, giving to Chief Joseph that curious resemblance, in our eyes, to an
old woman which we see in so many Indians, the face might be that of a
European. As heavy lips, as bent a nose, as high a cheek-bone, may be seen
in any crowd of white men. The forehead is good, and the brain cavity ample.
In sailors and woodsmen we find the same close-lipped, somewhat saturnine

On the artistic side one may note how Mr. Warner has felt the building up of
the cranium and jaw, and how strongly yet subtly he has modelled the texture
of the face. From the inscription the marks of quotation might well be
spared at the words Joseph and Nez Perce, while the word Indians itself
might be criticised as redundant.

Chief Joseph, as we all know, had a claim to the Wallowa Valley in Oregon,
dating from the Stevens treaty in 1855, and conceded again to him and his
tribe of about 500 Indians in 1873 by General Grant, while the latter was
President. Two years later the concession of June 16, 1873, was revoked, and
the Wallowa Valley was thrown into the public domain along with all of
Oregon west of the Snake River. In 1877 it was determined to remove the Nez
Perces from Oregon to the reservation in Idaho, and General Howard reported
that they had agreed to go, not willingly, but under constraint. Some whites
were killed, and Chief White Bird sent word that he would not remove,
whereupon an unequal war began between retreating bands of Nez Perces and
companies of United States cavalry, aided by volunteers. The Indians crossed
the Yellowstone Park and River, endeavoring to escape into British
territory, but were followed closely by Howard, and headed off by General,
then Colonel Miles. In the battle that ensued near the mouth of Eagle Creek
6 chiefs and 25 warriors were killed, and 38 men wounded. Two officers and
21 men were killed and 4 officers and 38 men wounded on the side of the
pursuers. The whole camp of about 450 men, women, and children fell into
Colonel Miles's hands. General Howard reached the battle-field just in time
to be present at the surrender.

Chief Joseph conducted this retreat with very extraordinary skill. He beat
Colonel Gibbon with 15 officers, 146 troopers, and 34 volunteers, though
with much loss of men. He stampeded General Howard's horses and pack-train,
fought Colonel Sturgis on the Yellowstone River, losing many horses, and
came very near making good his retreat to British America. Of this campaign
General Sherman has said: "The Indians throughout displayed a courage and
skill that elicited universal praise; they abstained from scalping; let
captive women go free; did not commit indiscriminate murder of peaceful
families, which is usual; and fought with almost scientific skill, using
advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications." These
facts only make harder the fate that awaited them, for it shows that no
forbearance, no bravery and generalship, are able to win for Indians
justice. The right of the Nez Perces to the Wallowa Valley was perfect, and
the killing of four white men possibly but not certainly by Indians was made
the pretext of hunting them down and letting them die of disease at Fort
Leavenworth. By neglecting to provide means to prevent tyranny and
land-grabbing on the part of its white citizens our government is constantly
forced to violate the most solemn treaties, and confess itself unworthy of
trust. The weakness and injustice of our dealing with Indians was never
shown in a more picturesque and striking example than in our conduct toward
this little section of the Nez Perces. It is only fair to say, however, that
we have had recent examples in which the government realized that the nation
has a duty to perform in protecting Indians against encroachments by white
settlers, and the troops were used in a more honorable exploit than hunting
down men with whom the nation had broken a solemn compact.

Harper's Weekly 34, 16 August 1890: 644.

"Three Noted Chiefs of the Sioux."


THE delusion of the coming of the Messiah among the Indians of the
Northwest, with the resulting ceremony known as the ghost dance, is
indicative of greater danger of an Indian war in that region than has
existed since 1876. Never before have diverse Indian tribes been so
generally united upon a single idea. The conspiracy of Pontiac and the
arrayment of savage forces by Tecumseh are insignificant by comparison. The
conditions do not exist that ordinarily have led to wars upon the Western
frontier. The peril of the situation lies in the fanaticism which may carry
the superstitious and excitable Indian to the point of hostilities in
defiance of all hope of ultimate success; and the uncertainty of this
element baffles the judgment of the oldest frontiersman, in the effort to
determine the extent of the danger. A single spark in the tinder of excited
religious gatherings may precipitate an Indian war more sanguinary than any
similar war that has ever occurred. The hope of peace lies in the judicious
display of force, united with conciliation, by the United States
authorities, helped by the coming of severely cold weather, which would make
an outbreak obviously hopeless, and allow time for the delusion to

In the present state of affairs the noted Sioux chief Sitting Bull, who has
already been the source of so much trouble in the course of Indian affairs,
appears once more as a prominent figure. This time he does not have the fair
pretext under which he incited the war in 1876, which led to the defeat and
massacre of General Custer's command on Little Big Horn River, and
terminated with the escape of Sitting Bull and his immediate followers into
British territory. Since his surrender through the mediation of the Dominion
officials in 1880, and his return to the Standing Rock Reservation in 1883,
he has found his authority greatly diminished among the Dakota Sioux. This
authority he has endeavored to regain by identifying himself with every
element of hostility to the whites and opposition to the innovations of
civilization, and has been so far successful that at the conference at
Standing Rock, Dakota, in July and August, 1888, he influenced his tribe to
refuse to relinquish their lands by purchase.

Contrary to the general estimate concerning him, this famous chief is a man
of mediocre ability, not noted for bravery as a warrior, and inferior as a
commander and an intelligence to some of his lieutenants. Sheer obstinacy,
stubborn tenacity of purpose, and low cunning, with an aptitude for
theatrical effect and for working on the superstitions of his people, are
the attributes by which he has acquired and retained influence among the
Northwest tribes. Personally he is pompous, vain, boastful, licentious, and
untrustworthy. He has constantly been a disturbing element at the agency
since his return from confinement as a military prisoner seven years ago,
and has grown worse in this respect as he has felt his authority and
importance departing.

The dangerous elements that this chief has called around him do not
represent the most noted Indians who fought under his leadership in the
Sioux war fourteen years ago and followed him in his exile across the
British frontier. Those warriors have realized the futility of warfare with
the whites, and are sincerely desirous not to incur its evils again. The
Indians of whom Sitting Bull is the representative comprise the
irreconcilables -- warriors who adhere to the old aboriginal usages and
chiefs jealous of their authority, which wanes in proportion as their
followers advance in civilization. This small but dangerous faction are
ready at any time for war. In sympathy with their desire are many young men
ambitious for a chance to distinguish themselves as warriors.

The chiefs of the greatest influence among the majority of the Indians are
men of strong will and good sense, who have accepted the situation, and are
willing to adapt themselves to the new condition of things. They could
control their people by their own influence unaided if the scene of the
gatherings was not so near exposed settlements, which tempt lawless Indians
to make trouble in hope of booty. The present excitement is fanned to some
extent by unscrupulous white persons desirous of a war with the hope that it
shall bring them emolument, and end in throwing open the reservation lands
for settlement.

Foremost among the Indians who have taken the side of peace and safety, and
have made every effort to break up the delusion which finds expression in
the ghost dances, are chiefs Gall and John Grass, both warriors held in
great respect for wisdom and bravery, who took a prominent part as followers
of Sitting Bull in the war that brought about the massacre at the Little Big
Horn. The change in them in the fourteen years since both these chiefs were
on the war-path in the equipments of savagery -- the war bonnets, the
braided hair pieced out with buffalo tails, and the array of weapons -- is
remarkable. The difference between the good and the bad Indian is indicated
in the countenance even more obviously than among the civilized whites. The
strong faces of these two chiefs indicate their character, which, unlike
that of Sitting Bull, is fearless, upright, bright, and progressive.

The foremost leader among the Sioux is Chief Gall, who stands above all
other chiefs in their estimation. Many persons familiar with the situation
say that he planned the campaign of 1876, which made Sitting Bull famous as
a commander and strategist, and affirm that no serious outbreak among the
Northwest tribes will occur so long as he remains friendly to the

This famous war chief is one of the best farmers at the Standing Rock
Agency. His family are all members of the Episcopalian Church. He takes no
part in the ghost dance, nor does he lend his sanction to it. He feels that
the Indians fail to appreciate the benefits of their present surroundings,
and want old times, which have been magnified in their imagination by
tradition, to return. "I think it better," he said, at the conclusion of a
conference he and John Grass had with Major James McLaughlin, the United
States agent at Standing Rock, "for us to live as we are living rather than
create trouble, not knowing how it will end."

An element of great value in the preservation of order upon the reservation,
and conspicuously useful in the present disturbed condition of affairs at
the agency, is the Indian police. At Standing Rock the force is thirty in
number, commanded by a captain and a lieutenant. For the adjudication of
affairs occurring upon the reservation an Indian court has been established
at the agency. Two of the judges are members of the police force, and the
third one is John Grass, who speaks English. The impartiality and excellent
judgment displayed in the conduct of this court have been noteworthy, and
its decisions have almost invariably been accepted without complaint.

Harper's Weekly 34, 20 Oct.1890: 995.

James Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans":


It is believed that the scene of this tale, and most of the information
necessary to understand its allusions, are rendered sufficiently obvious to
the reader in the text itself, or in the accompanying notes. Still there is
so much obscurity in the Indian traditions, and so much confusion in the
Indian names, as to render some explanation useful.

Few men exhibit greater diversity, or, if we may so express it, greater
antithesis of character, than the native warrior of North America. In war,
he is daring, boastful, cunning, ruthless, self-denying, and self-devoted;
in peace, just, generous, hospitable, revengeful, superstitious, modest, and
commonly chaste. These are qualities, it is true, which do not distinguish
all alike; but they are so far the predominating traits of these remarkable
people as to be characteristic.

It is generally believed that the Aborigines of the American continent have
an Asiatic origin. There are many physical as well as moral facts which
corroborate this opinion, and some few that would seem to weigh against it.

The color of the Indian, the writer believes, is peculiar to himself, and
while his cheek- bones have a very striking indication of a Tartar origin,
his eyes have not. Climate may have had great influence on the former, but
it is difficult to see how it can have produced the substantial difference
which exists in the latter. The imagery of the Indian, both in his poetry and in
his oratory, is oriental; chastened, and perhaps improved, by the limited
range of his practical knowledge. He draws his metaphors from the clouds,
the seasons, the birds, the beasts, and the vegetable world. In this,
perhaps, he does no more than any other energetic and imaginative race would
do, being compelled to set bounds to fancy by experience; but the North
American Indian clothes his ideas in a dress which is different from that of
the African, and is oriental in itself. His language has the richness and
sententious fullness of the Chinese. He will express a phrase in a word, and
he will qualify the meaning of an entire sentence by a syllable; he will
even convey different significations by the simplest inflections of the

Philologists have said that there are but two or three languages, properly
speaking, among all the numerous tribes which formerly occupied the country
that now composes the United States. They ascribe the known difficulty one
people have to understand another to corruptions and dialects. The writer
remembers to have been present at an interview between two chiefs of the
Great Prairies west of the Mississippi, and when an interpreter was in
attendance who spoke both their languages. The warriors appeared to be on
the most friendly terms, and seemingly conversed much together; yet,
according to the account of the interpreter, each was absolutely ignorant of
what the other said. They were of hostile tribes, brought together by the
influence of the American government; and it is worthy of remark, that a
common policy led them both to adopt the same subject. They mutually
exhorted each other to be of use in the event of the chances of war throwing
either of the parties into the hands of his enemies. Whatever may be the
truth, as respects the root and the genius of the Indian tongues, it is
quite certain they are now so distinct in their words as to possess most of the disadvantages of strange languages; hence much of the embarrassment that has arisen in learning their histories, and most of the uncertainty which exists in their

Like nations of higher pretensions, the American Indian gives a very
different account of his own tribe or race from that which is given by other
people. He is much addicted to overestimating his own perfections, and to
undervaluing those of his rival or his enemy; a trait which may possibly be
thought corroborative of the Mosaic account of the creation.

The whites have assisted greatly in rendering the traditions of the
Aborigines more obscure by their own manner of corrupting names. Thus, the
term used in the title of this book has undergone the changes of Mahicanni,
Mohicans, and Mohegans; the latter being the word commonly used by the
whites. When it is remembered that the Dutch (who first settled New York),
the English, and the French, all gave appellations to the tribes that dwelt
within the country which is the scene of this story, and that the Indians
not only gave different names to their enemies, but frequently to
themselves, the cause of the confusion will be understood.

In these pages, Lenni-Lenape, Lenope, Delawares, Wapanachki, and Mohicans,
all mean the same people, or tribes of the same stock. The Mengwe, the
Maquas, the Mingoes, and the Iroquois, though not all strictly the same, are
identified frequently by the speakers, being politically confederated and
opposed to those just named. Mingo was a term of peculiar reproach, as were
Mengwe and Maqua in a less degree.

The Mohicans were the possessors of the country first occupied by the
Europeans in this portion of the continent. They were, consequently, the
first dispossessed; and the seemingly inevitable fate of all these people,
who disappear before the advances, or it might be termed the inroads, of
civilization, as the verdure of their native forests falls before the nipping frosts, is
represented as having already befallen them. There is sufficient historical
truth in the picture to justify the use that has been made of it.

In point of fact, the country which is the scene of the following tale has
undergone as little change, since the historical events alluded to had
place, as almost any other district of equal extent within the whole limits
of the United States. There are fashionable and well-attended
watering-places at and near the spring where Hawkeye halted to drink, and
roads traverse the forests where he and his friends were compelled to
journey without even a path. Glen's has a large village; and while William
Henry, and even a fortress of later date, are only to be traced as ruins,
there is another village on the shores of the Horican. But, beyond this, the
enterprise and energy of a people who have done so much in other places have
done little here. The whole of that wilderness, in which the latter
incidents of the legend occurred, is nearly a wilderness still, though the
red man has entirely deserted this part of the state. Of all the tribes
named in these pages, there exist only a few half-civilized beings of the
Oneidas, on the reservations of their people in New York. The rest have
disappeared, either from the regions in which their fathers dwelt, or
altogether from the earth.

There is one point on which we would wish to say a word before closing this
preface. Hawkeye calls the Lac du Saint Sacrement, the ``Horican''. As we
believe this to be an appropriation of the name that has its origin with
ourselves, the time has arrived, perhaps, when the fact should be frankly
admitted. While writing this book, fully a quarter of a century since, it
occurred to us that the French name of this lake was too complicated, the
American too commonplace, and the Indian too unpronounceable, for either to
be used familiarly in a work of fiction. Looking over an ancient map, it was ascertained that a tribe of Indians, called ``Les Horicans'' by the French, existed in the
neighborhood of this beautiful sheet of water. As every word uttered by
Natty Bumppo was not to be received as rigid truth, we took the liberty of
putting the ``Horican'' into his mouth, as the substitute for ``Lake
George''. The name has appeared to find favor, and all things considered, it
may possibly be quite as well to let it stand, instead of going back to the
House of Hanover for the appellation of our finest sheet of water. We
relieve our conscience by the confession, at all events leaving it to
exercise its authority as it may see fit.