Chief Joseph was born in Wallowa Valley, Oregon in 1840. His name was originally Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt which means "thunder rolling down the mountain", but he was commonly known as Joseph by the white settlers. Chief Joseph became chief of the Nez Percé in 1871 when his father Joseph the Elder died. About the same time Chief Joseph gained leadership, conflict between the settlers and the Nez Percé had begun due to the discovery of gold on the Nez Percé's land. Chief Joseph lead his tribe in retreat to Canada in 1877 following a cavalry attack by General Oliver Otis Howard. Howard ordered this in response to several of the tribe's men attacking the settlers on the way to the reservation the settlers were sending them to. Chief Joseph's group of 700 managed to travel 1,400 miles while fighting 2,000 United States soldiers with less than 200 warriors in 4 battles and many smaller skirmishes. Chief Joseph surrendered on October 5, 1877 and became a popular military leader in America because of his written surrender speech. Chief Joseph never ended up gaining his tribe's land back and died in 1904. Some people believe that he died due to a broken heart. Chief Joseph was an important figure in my civil rights topic because he not only was one of the Native Americans who worked to try to gain his tribe's land back, but he was also remembered for leading one of the greatest military retreats in American history as well as being a peacemaker. Chief Joseph
showed others that fighting didn't always have to be the first thing you do in an attempt to solve a problem.
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