"Our fathers gave us many laws, which they had learned from their fathers. These laws were good. They told us to treat all people as they treated us; that we should never be the first to break a bargain; that it was a disgrace to tell a lie; that we should speak only the truth; that it was a shame for one man to take another's wife, or his property, without paying for it." (Chief Joseph)
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
When he died in 1904, most Americans who knew his people's story considered Chief Joseph, whose Nez Percé name is Himahtooyahlatkekt ("Thunder Rolling Down from the Mountains"), a military genius and an "Indian Napoleon". This assessment of the Native American leader was based on a 1,500-mile odyssey during which he and his people left their reservation in the hopes of escaping to Canada, where the Nez Percé intended to join Sitting Bull and his Hunkpapa Sioux band.
The real Chief Joseph was a gifted speaker and more diplomat than war leader. It's not surprising that Chief Joseph was misunderstood and misrepresented by Americans because his people's name was as well; Nez Percé literally means "pierced nose" in French, but it is unclear whether the tribe ever used nose piercings as a form of ornament.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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