The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Jon S. Randal: Hinmatóowyalahtq’it (Chief Joseph) A Leader Who Sought Peace


We at the TPI appreciate the effort of writers who write for the love of the craft and for archiving life as the writer sees it, know it or as she/he views and questions the human experience. 

We occasionally hear and read comment from certain American politicians about the former business (and it was a true business) commonly referred to as "colonialism." How often have you heard people like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee mention the words "Anti-colonialism?" Of course, we live in a nation that was born of colonialism.  So we should, forever hold dear sacrifices of Americans who preceded us.  By all and by any means, "yes."  

Some who lived in North America long before any white settlers or African slaves were forced to endure sacrifices and in many cases outright genocide. We must never forget sacrifices of people who sought life as they knew it; people who sought life when the alternative was death or imprisonment. 

I recently read a treatise from TPI friend Jon S. Randal, I must share.  We thank Mr. Randal for allowing the TPI to run the treatise.  

A story of Hinmatóowyalahtq’it (Chief Joseph).....

    


I wrote this in November during Native American Heritage Month. Each day during that month, I wrote something about Native Americans, their history, their contributions, their proverbs and sayings, their pain and suffering which was inflicted upon them when they lost their land, when they were cheated and lied to, when they were massacred. Chief Joseph was one of the more well-known chiefs, renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker during his time. Today is his birthday, he was born on this day, March 3, 1840, his Native American name was Hinmatóowyalahtq’it. 

I started my Native American tribute with Chief Joseph and I ended it with Chief Joseph, I think his story is representative of many of the great Native American Nations which graced this great land. I think it is a story that needs to be told over and over again, which is the reason I'm sharing it again. 

Although some of Chief Joseph's writings and speeches, as well as other great chiefs, are now in dispute because of the translations, no one will ever be able to dispute what was in his heart, his love for this land and for his people. This great nation lost something very valuable, we need to always remember all the great nations, the true, the first Americans.

He loved and respected this land. He loved his people. He just wanted peace, but after the U.S. government broke another land treaty with his Nez Perce tribe, Chief Joseph had no choice. His only hope was to meet up with Sitting Bull across the Canadian border, hopefully finding peace. He started off with about 800 followers, which only about 200 were warriors while the rest were family members: wives, youngsters, and elders.

For more than three months, in what has been referred to as one of the most brilliant retreats in American history, Chief Joseph and his followers fought with dignity, courage, and fortitude, out maneuvering more than 2,000 pursuing U.S. soldiers time after time. He and his followers battled hunger and freezing weather, and covered a distance of more than 1,000 miles across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. He received the admiration of whites by treating any prisoners humanely and purchasing supplies along the way rather than stealing them.

He was only 40 miles short of his Canadian goal, when Chief Joseph was cornered by the U.S. Army. Knowing it was over and he had to protect the lives of the few remaining followers, he sent a message to General Howard:

"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

Chief Joseph surrendered and negotiated safety for his people, but he himself and four hundred followers were taken on unheated rail cars to be held in a prisoner of war campsite for eight months. Toward the end of the following summer the surviving Nez Perce were forcibly relocated to a barren reservation in Indian Territory for seven more years, where many of them died of epidemic diseases.

In his last years, Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward Native Americans and held out hope that one day America's promise of freedom and equality would ring true.

And, even with all the suffering of his people, he remained a true humanitarian who valued each individual and respected life. When a settler ran into him and his tribe one day, the settler was brought to Chief Joseph. The settler thought this would be the end for him, but Chief Joseph gave him all the food he could eat and showed him the directions back home. The settler tried to give Chief Joseph money, but he refused. He finally convinced him to accept a red yarn which he had around his neck.

Chief Joseph was an indomitable voice of conscience for the West, one of the last Native American heroes. He died in 1904, still in exile from his homeland. According to his doctor, he died "of a broken heart."

As Chief Joseph once said: "The winds which pass through these aged pines we hear the moaning of departed ghosts, and if the voice of our people could have been heard, that act would never have been done. But alas though they stood around they could neither be seen nor heard. Their tears fell like drops of rain."

For more than three months, in what has been referred to as one of the most brilliant retreats in American history, Chief Joseph and his followers fought with dignity, courage, and fortitude, out maneuvering more than 2,000 pursuing U.S. soldiers time after time. He and his followers battled hunger and freezing weather, and covered a distance of more than 1,000 miles across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. He received the admiration of whites by treating any prisoners humanely and purchasing supplies along the way rather than stealing them.

He was only 40 miles short of his Canadian goal, when Chief Joseph was cornered by the U.S. Army. Knowing it was over and he had to protect the lives of the few remaining followers, he sent a message to General Howard:

"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

Chief Joseph surrendered and negotiated safety for his people, but he himself and four hundred followers were taken on unheated rail cars to be held in a prisoner of war campsite for eight months. Toward the end of the following summer the surviving Nez Perce were forcibly relocated to a barren reservation in Indian Territory for seven more years, where many of them died of epidemic diseases.

In his last years, Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward Native Americans and held out hope that one day America's promise of freedom and equality would ring true.

And, even with all the suffering of his people, he remained a true humanitarian who valued each individual and respected life. When a settler ran into him and his tribe one day, the settler was brought to Chief Joseph. The settler thought this would be the end for him, but Chief Joseph gave him all the food he could eat and showed him the directions back home. The settler tried to give Chief Joseph money, but he refused. He finally convinced him to accept a red yarn which he had around his neck.

Chief Joseph was an indomitable voice of conscience for the West, one of the last Native American heroes. He died in 1904, still in exile from his homeland. According to his doctor, he died "of a broken heart."

As Chief Joseph once said: "The winds which pass through these aged pines we hear the moaning of departed ghosts, and if the voice of our people could have been heard, that act would never have been done. But alas though they stood around they could neither be seen nor heard. Their tears fell like drops of rain."
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It is important for artist like Jon S. Randal to visit with our past. We are often too consumed with our short-term future while forsaking the lessons of the past and the benefit prologue (as a preceding event) offers humanity.  ~The Pardu

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