Chief Joseph on the Colville Reservation


During the Nez Perce War, Chief Joseph and his followers fled from their homelands in northeast Oregon across Idaho and Montana almost to the Canadian border with the United States army in hot pursuit. Defeated in a final battle in 1877, the Nez Perce were relocated to Oklahoma. Then eight years later in 1885 Chief Joseph and roughly one hundred other Nez Perce were moved to the Colville Reservation, near Spokane.


The newspapers of the time objected to the settling of "these blood-stained demons" near to Spokane. These articles reveal current attitudes towards Indians in general and in particular towards Indians who had fought in the Nez Perce war. And they also give us glimpses, although highly biased, of the Indians themselves.


"Unwelcome Immigrants," Spokane Evening Review, May 25, 1885, page 2

Chief Joseph and one hundred Nez Perce are due to be settled on the Colville Reservation. The author objects that these "thieves and murderers" will bring "strife and war" to the region.

"Joseph and His Band," Spokane Evening Review. May 26, 1885 [page number?]

Despite local protests, the Nez Perces have arrived in Spokane. Anxieties are running high as the "murderers" are brought back to the Northwest. Author hints darkly: "we will not be surprised at any time to hear of the sudden death of the Nez Perce Indians after they set foot in the western territories."

"Disappointed," [Find Source], May 27, 1885, [Find Page Number]

A large crowd waited to see Chief Joseph arrive by train, but was disappointed when he did not arrive in the afternoon as expected.

"Arrived," Spokane Evening Review, May 27, 1885, [page number?]

Chief Joseph and the Nez Perces arrived early in the morning and, accompanied by cavalry, they marched out to Fort Spokane. Joseph is described as a "cruel-looking cuss."

"Joint Session," The Spokesman-Review, June 4, 1885 [page number?]

At a delegation of Indians, Chief Joseph and Chief Moses met and embraced. Suspicions are high surrounding the union of the Colville and the Nez Perce. But on the other hand, Joseph's previous defeat and imprisonment will probably discourage him from going to war again.

"Evil Spirit of Press Fills Chief with Awe," Spokane Press, November 20, 1903 [page number?]

Many years after the events covered in the previous article, Chief Joseph stopped by The Press to visit, see a typesetting machine, and give a brief interview. A translator accompanied him, but some of the interview is reported in his native language.