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Stop Your Ears My Son

My Son, Stop Your Ears

Chief Joseph, Nez Percé leader, 1879 Address to Congress

On January 14, 1879, Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Percé nation of the Northwest, addressed Congress to explain why his people had declared war on U.S. troops in 1877. Chief Joseph explained that he and his band had refused to leave their Oregon homes despite the yearly demands of U.S. Indian agents. In 1877, after local cowboys stole Nez Percé horses, the Native Americans struck back. For four months and over thirteen hundred miles, they conducted guerrilla warfare against U.S. troops as they sought to escape into Canada. Chief Joseph surrendered just before reaching the border. In this excerpt of his remarks, Chief Joseph discusses the treaties that the tribe had signed with the U.S. government and the subsequent efforts of the government to send his people to a reservation.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationHistorical Legal Documents and Landmark Speeches