Chief Joseph Speeches, Excerpts

I know that my race must change.

We cannot hold our own with the white man as we are.

We only ask an even chance to live as other men live.

We ask to be recognized as men.

We ask that the same law shall work alike on all men.

If the Indian breaks the law, punish him by the law. If the white man breaks the law, punish him also.

Let me be a fee man -

free to travel, free to stop, free to work,

free to trade where I choose,

free to choose my own teachers,

free to follow the religion of my fathers,

free to think and talk and act for myself -

and I will obey every law or submit to the penalty.

Whenever the white man treats the Indian

as they treat each other,

then we shall have no more wars.

We shall be all alike -

brothers of one father and one mother,

with one sky above us

and one country around us,

and one government for all.

Then the Great Spirit Chief who rules above

will smile upon this land,

and send rain to wash out the bloody spots

made by my brothers' hands

upon the face of the earth.

For this time the Indian race is waiting and praying.

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 will be of one people.

-from the speeches of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe c.1875-79

Thisblock of lettering

shows the stylized Italic hand in which this piece is rendered