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Word Count: 475
Pride of the Nez Perce If there was one Native American who best brought the plight of Native Americans to Americas conscience it was Chief Joseph Chief Joseph fought to preserve the land on which he lived and his people lived Chief Joseph fought Native American rights justice and the land that was rightly his Joseph was born the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon In 1871 upon the death of his father he assumed leadership of the nontreaty Nez Perce White settlers coveted the traditional homeland of these Native Americans and Joseph seeking confirmation of Nez Perce territorial rights met with Federal commissioners to discuss a spurious treaty in which the Indians had supposedly ceded their land to the US government The commissioners were disconcerted by Joseph who stood 6 feet tall was amicable but firm and spoke with amazing eloquence The obvious fraudulence of the old treaty President Ulysses S Grant opened the Nez Perce lands to settlement and ordered the Native Americans onto reservations Against his will Joseph was forced by his tribesmen to fight Pressed hard by Gen Oliver Otis Howards forces Joseph was convinced that he could not win and began a lengthy withdrawal toward Canada Pursued by Howard and harassed by many small detachments Joseph fled toward Canada and thrilled the nation whose sympathies were with the Native Americans During the fall of 1877 Joseph led his 500 followers into Montana In the fighting he showed rare military genius and great humanity he refused to make war on women and children bought his supplies when possible and allowed no mutilation of bodies On October 1 as the Nez Perce paused to rest at the Bear Paw Mountains just 30 miles from Canada they were surprised by Col N A Miles with approximately 600 soldiers With only 87 warriors Joseph chose to fight He would not abandon the children the women and the aged After a 5-day siege however he
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