Chief Joseph's Speech, Washington D.C.

Chief Joseph. “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs.” North American Review 128:269 (April 1879): 412-33.

Chief Joseph's Speech, Washington D.C.


My friends, I have been asked to show you my heart.  I am glad to have a chance to do so.  I want the white people to understand my people.  Some of you think an Indian is like a wild animal.  This is a great mistake.  I will tell you all about our people, and then you can judge whether and Indian is a man or not.  I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.  I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things.  The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but it does not require many words to speak the truth.  What I have to say will come from my heart, and I will speak with a straight tongue.  Ah-cum-kin-i-ma-me-hut (the Great Spirit) is looking at me, and will hear me.

My name is In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder traveling over the Mountains).  I am chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kin band of Chute-pa-lu, or Nez Perces (nose-pierced Indians).  I was born in eastern Oregon, thirty-eight winters ago.  My father was chief before me.  When a young man, he was called Joseph by Mr. Spaulding, a missionary.  He died a few years ago.  There was no stain on his hands of the blood of a white man.  He left a good name on the earth.  He advised me well for my people.