Description by museum: This photograph is historically significant and has great human interest as well. It may be the only extant copy in existence of F. M. Sargent's cabinet card of Nez Perce Chief Joseph and his family in Leavenworth where they were exiled from 1877 to 1885.
Chief and his band of Nez Perce lived peacefully in the Wallowa Valley of Eastern Oregon until 1877 when the U.S. government decided to move the band to a small reservation in Idaho. When General O.O. Howard threatened a cavalry attack, a few dissatisfied warriors raided a settlement and killed several whites. Fearing retaliation, Joseph fled with his band of 700 men, women and children in a retreat towards Canada that covered 1400 miles. They finally gave up 40 miles from the Canadian border where Joseph uttered the famous words "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."
Curator's statement: Look into Chief Josephs's face. What was he thinking and feeling at that moment? I believe this photograph is one of the most revealing portraits in our collection. You can see great dignity, pride, intelligence, and sadness in Joseph's face and body language as well as tension, and perhaps some anger. - Elaine Miller
|Wallowa Lake and Wallowa Mountains in Oregon, USA.|