Friday, October 5, 2012

I Will Fight No More

Yes, I know today's post has nothing to do with church history. Why do I post it? There are at least three reasons why I post it.

First - Ever since I was a little boy I have been fascinated with the old west, with cowboys and the western Indians. I grew up with cowboy hats, six-guns, John Wayne, and the Hollywoodized version of the Indian wars.

Second - this was a monumental time in the history of a great people, the Nez  Perce. This story is amazing. Chief Joseph led over 800 Nez Perce and a band of Palouse Indians towards the Montana Territory. He had hoped to find asylum with the Crow Nation. The Crow Indians refused to help them. They went on towards Canada with the hope of finding refuge with Sitting Bull who had escaped there in 1876.

For three months Joseph fought battles and out maneuvered General Howard and the United States Cavalry. The beleaguered Indians fought for over 1170 miles across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in a desperate rearguard defense as they pushed toward Canada.

Unfortunately after a five day battle in below freezing temperatures and with no food, Joseph had no choice but to surrender. Most of his war chiefs had been killed. Conditions were deplorable. Joseph surrender to General Nelson Miles on October 5th, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains in the Montana Territory. The sad, tragic, and ironic truth was that Joseph surrendered just forty miles from Canada. What a story! What a leader and a brave yet compassionate man!

Third - This story so intrigued me, so gripped me, so overwhelmed me that I could not forget it. Then, one day in Speech class we had to memorize a short speech by a great military leader and recite it in class. I immediately chose the speech that Chief Joseph gave when he surrendered to General Miles. I can still recall the giving of this speech in class. I can remember the empathy, the pathos, the emotion I dredged up from the bottom of my soul. It was my fear that I could not, would not give this speech with the grief, despair, and anguish that Chief Joseph did on that day, October 5th. I still get chills and I shiver when I think of that day in class and when I recited that speech. 

Here is Chief Joseph's surrender speech:

"Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. 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."

"Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain",
Chief Joseph,
Nez Perce 
October 5th, 1877

I am still moved by the last line, from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

Has anything haunted you or moved you in such a similar fashion? What is it? Why?

1 comment:


Perhaps this is not in the context you want but then again perhaps it is.
Last year I briefly visited New York City whilst touring around, While there we visited "Ground Force"
Gregg I have seen that site on TV many times over the years but actually being there was a different story altogether. It was the most moving experience I had ever had, thinking of all those people who were killed and injured and some whose bodies are still missing. I know there were telations of victims there and it was heartbreaking.
How can people do such things to fellow human beings ?