"Unwelcome Immigrants"

Source: Spokane Evening Review, May 25, 1885, page 2

Subject: Moving Chief Joseph and other Nez Perce prisoners to the Colville Reservation

Headline: "Unwelcome Immigrants"

Synopsis: Chief Joseph and one hundred Nez Perce are due to be relocated from Indian territory (Oklahoma), where they were sent after the Nez Perce War, to the Colville Reservation. The author objects that these "thieves and murderers" will bring "strife and war" to the region. (Modern historians paint a much more favorable picture of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce. And within a few years Chief Joseph would be a popular figure at parades and fairs in the Inland Northwest.)

Notable quotation: "Must we now offer, as an additional attraction in this region to settlers and miners, the fact that they will have these blood-stained demons for neighbors?"


Unwelcome Immigrants


We learn that it is proposed in Washington D. C., to send Chief Joseph and one hundred of his Nez Perces to the Colville reservation, instead of returning all of the remnant of that tribe to their former home in central Idaho. So much sickly sentimentality has been wasted on Nez Perce Joseph that it will be well for those of our citizens who have come into the great northwest within the last eight years to hear the truthful history of the Nez Perce war.

In 1877 Joseph and his Nez Perces broke loose in the vicinity of Mount Idaho, attacked the ranches of the unprotected and unguarded settlers, burned their homes, stole or wontonly destroyed their horses and cattle, killed in cold blood the unarmed men and raped all the women they could capture. Then Gen. Howard started after them and what is called the Nez Perce war followed. Joseph fought well, of course, and outgeneraled and thrashed both Howard and Gibbon. General Miles succeeded in giving the Indians one good fight and induced them to surrender, and they were sent to the Indian territory, from whence they are now to be returned to this country.

The civil authorities demanded that certain ones be tried before the courts for the murders and horrible atrocities which had been committed, but Carl Schurz, then secretary of the interior, refused to give them up, and refused in a very insulting note.

These thieves and murderers are now to be sent into the Colville valley. Must we now offer, as an additional attraction in this region to settlers and miners, the fact that they will have these blood-stained demons for neighbors? Do the murdered soldiers of Idaho derive any comfort from our "cool nights in summer" and warm "chinook winds in winter?"

Under the able management of the Colville agency, that valley is peaceful and quiet and offers every inducement to settlers and miners. But in that valley are many from central Idaho, who lost friends and relatives in the Nez Perce massacres and who have sworn vengeance upon the murderers. The agent will have no bed of roses, if each night he retired dreading to hear in the morning of strife and war between the old white settlers and the newly arrived Nez Perces.

Spokane Falls relies largely upon the develoyment[sp] of the Colville valley, and the killing of two or three whites or Indians, published with the usual exaggeration of the eastern press, and of papers hostile to the development of eastern Washington would cause us to loose several years in the settling and building up of that portion of our territory. Let our citizens represent to those in charge of Indian affairs that we have lost no Nez Perce Indians, and suggest that they get sent to -- Maine.