Chief Joseph

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  1. The first white men of your people who came to our country were named Lewis and Clark....All the Nez Percés made friends with Lewis and Clark and agreed to let them pass through their country, and never to make war on white men. This promise the Nez Percés have never broken. It has always been the pride of the Nez Percés that they were the friends of the white men.

Chief Joseph

  1. Do not misunderstand me [and] my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I chose. The one who has the right to dispose of it is the one who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilege to live on yours. The earth is the mother of all people and all people should have equal rights upon it

Chief Joseph

  1. I knew I had never sold my country, and that I had no land in Lapwai; but I did not want bloodshed. I did not want my people killed. I did not want anybody killed....I said in my heart that, rather than have war, I would give up everything rather than have the blood of white men upon the hands of my people.

Chief Joseph

  1. My people were divided about surrendering...[But] I could not bear to see my wounded men and women suffer any longer; we had lost enough already. Colonel Miles...promised that we might return to our own country with what stock we had left. I thought we could start again. I believed Colonel Miles, or I never would have surrendered.

Chief Joseph

  1. Good words do not last long....Good words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men....Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises.

You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases...

Chief Joseph

Spend a Day in My Shoes

Chief Walker and the Nez Perce

Part A: This part of the assignment is a silent assignment. Walk around and read each quote to yourself. TAKE YOUR TIME! As you read each quote imagine the person who is speaking, what he might be dealing with, his background, his feelings. How do you feel after reading each quote? What would you say to him if you could?

Directions: After reading each quote:

  • Choose the quote that struck you the most. Write down on your sticky note your feelings, or the words that struck you the most, or what you would change if you could about the situation. Read the other sticky notes on the quote. Your comment may even be about someone else’s comment. Place your sticky note on the quote.

  • Fill out the worksheet after reading all the quotes


Who is speaking? Who is he speaking to?

Who is he speaking about?


What is happening in this story?

What background knowledge do you have to help you understand?


When does this take place?

What historical events are in motion at this time?


What clue helps you understand where the Nez Perce live?


Why would Chief Joseph say what he is saying?

Why would the white men have acted this way?

Part B:

After hearing the story of the Nez Perce and Chief Walker write a 5 sentence (or more) paragraph response. Include at least 3 specific details from the true story. Those details can include location, events, attitudes and policies of the government at the time, as well as the eventual result of the flight of the Nez Perce. Circle the details when you are done. You can also add your opinion and analysis.

What would you say today to Chief Joseph if you could?


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