The Most Gallant Indian Chieftain
NOTE TO ANNOUNCER: There will now be a brief pause in the Great
Northern Railway program for station announce-
ments. This is WEAF, New York City.
TIME: ( ) - ( )
( ) - ( )
10:30 - 11:00 P.M. APRIL 22, 1929 MONDAY
The Great Northern Railway presents "Empire Builders" a
program dedicated to the advancement of the American Northwest.
We first hear the approach of the "Oriental Limited" the Great
Northern's Crack Train.
The program will now continue under the direction of the
Pioneer. You know, Colonel, if you'll pardon my saying so, that's
a fine head of hair you've got. The Indians never lifted your
scalp in the old days! That's one sure thing!
PIONEER: Well, now, I'll tell you. If these here white dentists
had been as easy on my teeth as the Injuns were on my
hair I'd be a whole man yet! An' speakin' of scalpin',
I guess you don't realize that the Injuns wasn't the
only ones that did that. There was some white men that
scalped too! Meaner than a hydophoby skunk they was!
Thought the Injuns was jest painted savages, when the
truth was the Injuns was a heap more civilized then them!
Take the Nez Perce Injuns fer instance, out in Idaho,
an' Montana, an' Washington an' Oregon. They could hev
give the white men plenty of points on decency - if the
white men had had the gumption to know it!
Long back between 1850 an' 1880 when Old Chief Joseph,
an' his son, Young Joseph, was chiefs of the Nez Perces,
somethin' happened that showed the white men up as bein'
pretty black, an' the red men as bein' as white as they
make 'em. Now, the Nez Perces had always been friendly
to the white men. They was friendly to Lewis an' Clark,
an' to all who came after, an' this lasted way up until
1863, when the white man tried to take away their homes.
In 1855, Old Chief Joseph signed a treaty with the whites
that guaranteed his people the peaceful possession of
the Wallowa Valley, where they had lived fer generations.
Then in 1863, the whites tried to take away the Valley
fer themselves, claimin' that some Indian named Lawyer -
ye know he would be named that - had sold the Valley
to them. Old Chief Joseph refused to give the Valley
up, after a council was held, an' the whites didn't get
any further - jest then. Came to be 1873, Old Chief
Joseph was dead, an' Young Joseph was Chief. 'Twas then
that President Grant gave the Nez Perces exclusive use
of the Wallowa Valley by executive order. That ought to
have finished it, but it didn't. There is some white men
that can give a hog cards an' spades, an' 'twas white
men of this kind that kept a comin' into the Valley an'
a comin' in, so that the Nez Perces was gettin' badly
crowded. Still, they kept the peace an' didn't do
nothin' to make trouble. Young Joseph had promised his
father when he died that he'd keep the peace with the
whites, an' he didn't see why he should break his promise
jest because the whites broke theirs.
Well, finally, the whites got so thick in the Wallowa
Valley, an' the Government got so dumb, that it sent out
a certain General Howard to try an' persuade the Nez
Perces to give up their Valley altogether, an' move
over to the Indian Reservation at Lapwai where they'd
die off quicker! Well, the Nez Perces held a big council
at Fort Lapwai to try an' find out what to do, Young
Joseph was there, an' Smohalla, the prophet an' magician,
an' Too-Hool-Hool-Suit, the priest, an' lots of others.
General Howard, he was there too, with his Staff, an'
there was plenty more. I'm a goin' to show you that
council, an' I want to tell you that most of the speechs
were jest as they are given here - taken down accurate
at the time. The council fire was lit, an' the ceremonies
began when Smohalla came in, with seven drums in front
of him, an' the sacred bell a ringin' clear.
(The beat of the drums and the ringing of the bell
SMOHALLA: (chanting) The council fire is lighted and the warriors
are assembled before it! Hearken, Great Spirit, to your
children, and give them wisdom! I, Smohalla, chief of
the Dreamers, prophet of the Nez Perces, have spoken!
JOSEPH: The fires are lighted, and the warriors are assembled.
I declare this council open.
HOWARD: Enough of this mummery, Chief Joseph! You who profess to
be a Christian should know better then this!
JOSEPH: We worship as our fathers worshipped before us, General
Howard. We are here, at the sacred council fire. What
do you ask of us?
HOWARD: I ask - I demand the Valley of the Wallowa for the Govern-
ment! You and all your tribe are ordered to the Indian
Reservation at once!
JOSEPH: When my father, chief of the Nez Perces, died, my white
brother, he said to me - My son, my body is returning
to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to
the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your
people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember
that this valley holds the bones of your father and
mother. The white man has his eyes upon this land. Do
not ever sell it to them! - And I answered that I would
protect his grave with my life, and that the man who does
not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal!
Would you have me break my promise, General Howard?
HOWARD: I know nothing of your promise, Joseph. I only know that
the white men need this land, and that they must have it.
Further, this valley has been bought and paid for. It
was sold to the whites by the Indian named Lawyer.
JOSEPH: If we ever owned the land, we own it still, for we never
sold it. Suppose a white man came to me and said,
"Joseph, I like your horses. I want to buy them." And I
answered him, "No, my horses suit me, and I do not wish
to sell them." And then a neighbor said, "Pay me the
money, and I will sell you Joseph's horses." The white
man might return and say, "Joseph, I have bought your
horses," but you know, and he knows in his heart that it
is not so!
HOWARD: You quibble! The valley has been bought and paid for,
and you are ordered away. The white man wishes this land
for farms - farms that you have been too lazy to till.
TOO: I, Too-Hool-Hool-Suit, will answer! The earth is my
mother. Must I tear her body with the white man's plow?
Men must eat whatever grows freely and of itself. So it
HOWARD: I do not wish to interfere with your religion, but you
must talk about practical things! Twenty times over you
have repeated that the earth is your mother! Let us hear
it no more, but come to business. You know that the
Government has set apart a Reservation, and that the
Indians must go upon it. If an Indian becomes a citizen,
he may have land like any other citizen, but he must
leave his tribe, and take land as the white man does!
TOO: The Great Spirit Chief made the world as it is, and as
he wanted it, and he made a part of it for us to live
upon. Who gave you authority to say that we shall not
live where he placed us?
[ALL: J - J - J - J - J]
HOWARD: Be quiet! I will not listen to such talk!
TOO: Who are you that you ask us to talk, and then say not to
talk? Are you the Great Spirit? Did you make the world?
Did you make the sun? Did you make the rivers to run for
us to drink or did you make the grass to grow? Did you
make all things that you talk to us as if we were
[ALL: J - J - J]
HOWARD: Be quiet, I say! You are impudent! The trouble with you
Indians is that you take patience for cowardice! Captain
Parker, arrest that man!
PARKER: Very well, Sir. Too-Hool-Hool-Suit, you are under arrest!
JOSEPH: What! You violate the sacred council fire? You arrest
the priest of the Nez Perces?
HOWARD: I do! And if you don't move your whole tribe over to the
Reservation within thirty days I'll arrest you too, Chief
SMOHALLA: War! The white man has asked for war! Dig up the Toma-
hawk, warriors of the Nez Perce! Beat the war drums,
ensigns of the sacred clan! The white man has asked for
war! Let him have it!
(The drums start up their heavy beat, and the excite-
ment of the crowd is heard)
JOSEPH: No! I will not have it! I have promised peace, and I will
keep my promise! Silence, Smohalla! The first among my
people to draw a weapon shall die by my hand! Rather will
I give up our valley than have war with the white man!
HOWARD: You have thirty days in which to leave. See that you keep
JOSEPH: We will go. We will give up our valley. But you, General,
will you not release Too-Hool-Hool-Suit in token of good
HOWARD: No! The man is under arrest, and I sentence him herewith
to five days in prison.
JOSEPH: Then - will you not give us more than thirty days in
which to move? Think of our women and children! Think
of the herds that we must gather! Will you not give us
HOWARD: No! Thirty days you have, and no more!
SMOHALLA: You bear, my brothers? The white man treats us as dogs
to be kicked out of his pathway! We, who were a free
people, are no more than the dirt under the hooves of
the buffalo! Arm, people of the Nez Perce! Arm or die,
for your doom is upon you!
[ALL: J - J]
(The crowd answers him, and the war drums grow louder)
JOSEPH: No! Keep the ancient faith, oh my people! There must be
VOICE 1: The white men murdered my father, Chief of the Nez Perces!
Shall I be silent? I and my two brothers declare for
JOSEPH: You shall have justice, but there must be no war.
HOWARD: (sneeringly) Your children are unruly, Chief. They need
JOSEPH: If they need it they shall have it, General Howard, but
it shall not come from you!
VOICE 2: (off) My brothers! My brothers, hear me! I come!
VOICES: It is Hush-Hush-Cut! Silence! Silence for our brother!
HUSH: (up) Hear me, oh Chief!
JOSEPH: What news do you bring, Hush-Hush-Cut?
HUSH: I am one of those who was set to guard our cattle, Chief,
I only am left! The white men came, set upon us and
killed all but me!
JOSEPH: Is this true?
HUSH: They have taken our cattle, and we shall starve before
the Spring rains!
SMOHALLA: Will this not stir you, people of the Nez Perce? Will
you lie like flogged curs, asking to be beaten? Out with
your hatchets, brothers, and kill, kill, kill!
JOSEPH: [aside] You hear, General Howard? This is the end! I cannot keep
my promise. There will be war. Go, go while you are safe!
I cannot hold them much longer,
HOWARD: [aside] Very well, Joseph. You have declared for war. Within a
week you will be begging for peace - and you will beg in
irons! Come, gentlemen! Back to headquarters with me, and
prepare to teach these red dogs a lesson.
SMOHALLA: Cover the sacred fires! Paint for war, my brothers!
Sharpen your knives! It is better to die than to eat the
bread of bondage!
VOICE 1: The red belt has been given! Revenge! Revenge and war!
VOICE 2: Death to the white man! War!
JOSEPH: You have asked for war, my children. In giving it to you
I have broken my promise, and perhaps my heart! I,
Joseph, have spoken!
VOICES: War! War! Kill! Death to the white man! Revenge!
(The voices and the drums swell up, and die away)
PIONEER: Well, that's how it started! One misguided general, and
a passel of piggish white men forced a war on an Indian
tribe that never deserved it! The Nez Perces fought the
most humane war that was ever waged on this continent,
an' I mean that jest as it stands! They didn't scalp,
an' they treated the wounded well. Now folks, I'm a goin'
to give you a treat, I'm a goin' to let you hear the
story of Chief Joseph's famous retreat from a man who
took part in it - not in the retreat itself, but in the
chase that followed! That is Major General Hugh Scott,
who was Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and
who is still a member of the Bureau of Indian Commis-
sioners. General Scott was jest a young Lieutenant of
cavalry when he took part in the pursuit of Chief Joseph
and the Nez Perces, but he was there, he knew Joseph,
an' he'll tell you about it. Folks, I hev the pleasure
an' honor to introduce General Scott, one of the great
soldiers of our country!
GENERAL SCOTT'S SPEECH
My friends, I have been asked to speak to you about Young
Joseph, who was one of the noblest Indians America has ever produced.
Tall, stalwart and commanding, he was a fine specimen of manhood
morally and intellectually, with a humanity that set him apart
from the wilder Indians of that time, as well as from many of his
As the white population enlarged in the West, the pressure
increased to get the land from the Indians, and troubles began,
owing to the greed and rapacity of the white man - the old story
These troubles culminated in the spring of 1877 when General
Howard was sent to Lapwai to cause the removal of Joseph and his
following from the Wallowa valley where he was born and his father
Joseph was very much averse to the war demanded by some of
his less thoughtful people, and was willing to give up his country
to prevent it, but the excitement was very great and, after several
murders had been committed by both sides, Joseph could hold back
his people no longer, and it was with a heavy heart that he joined
his people in war - far more sinned against than sinning.
The treatment received at this time and afterwards by the
Indians from the Secretary of the Interior, which caused the death
of a large proportion of this human kindly people who had befriended
the white man times without number, forms one of the blackest pages
of American history, and all to satisfy the greed and rapacity of
the white man. The Indians were generally successful in their first
engagements with the troops, hastily assembled by General Howard.
Lieutenant Sevier Rains, 1st Cavalry - my room-mate at West Point -
a most promising young officer, was outnumbered on a scouting party
with fifteen troopers and was killed with all his men.
These occurrences soon proved to Joseph there was no chance
for the peaceful settlement he had hoped for, and he started across
the Bitter Root mountains with all his women children and horses
in search of peace in the buffalo country, followed by General
Howard whose custom it was not to march on Sunday's - which in-
flicted grave inefficiency in the pursuit!
General John Gibbon, coming from the East, cut off Joseph
with a command of the 7th Infantry from Fort Shaw, surprised and
captured his camp on the Big Hole, but Joseph rallied his men at
once, recaptured the Camp, and forced Gibbon to entrench on a hill
away from water - until Howards approach raised the siege.
Entering the Yellowstone Park, the Cinaut party was captured.
Mr. Cinaut was left for dead near Mary's Lake, but was picked up
by Howards scouts later and recovered.
Joseph, anxious to liberate Cinaut's wife with her sister
and brother, without the knowledge of the hot-headed young men,
lest they object - sent the latter back to take mules from Howard,
then mounted the white prisoners on horses and sent them home un-
Nearing the Yellowstone Lake, Joseph sent 18 scouts down the
Yellowstone valley as far as the Henderson Ranch at Cinnabar moun-
tain, to see if the way was clear. They set fire to the ranch and
drove off the horses, returning to Joseph through the Mammoth Hot
Springs. I was then an irresponsible young Lieutenant of the 7th
Cavalry, a year out of West Point, continually in search of adven-
ture and as foolish as they come. I was in charge of the Scouts
in command of Captain Doane, 2nd Cavalry, with "E" of the 7th,
coming up the Yellowstone to head off the Nez Perce at the Hot
Springs, with one small troop of Cavalry and a few Scouts, in which
his boldness and prediction of Josephs route were more to be com-
mended than his judgment. Arriving at the mouth of the canyon below
the ranch, we noted the smoke, and soon Jack Barnett, one of the
scouts, after whom a peak is named in the Yellowstone Park, came
dashing in saying, "the Nez Perce men down there were thicker than
the grass on the ground." I soon obtained permission to go down
there with Jack. Colonel Allen and ten troopers and myself were
off in ten minutes - the rest of the command coming on with the
Striking the trail at the ranch, we followed it to the Mammoth
Hot Springs so rapidly that we recaptured nineteen horses and
found the body of Dietrich, one of the Cinaut party from Helena -
killed but a few minutes before. Here night came on, and we had
to find our way back to the command in the darkness as best we
This chase after Josephs scouts was engaged in solely for a
little excitement - none of us thought we could make a dent, with
ten men, on Josephs band that had forced General Gibbon to entrench
with a good sized command in the Big Hole a short time before, but
our little lark had far greater consequences than any of us im-
agined it would. We never learned of it until months afterward
when Joseph told me all about it when I had charge of the train
taking him and his warriors from the Mouth or the Yellowstone to
the end of the Railway at Bismarck, Dakota, for transportation as
prisoners of war to Kansas.
After being chased up the river, the scouts reported us to
Joseph, as a military force on his front, whereupon he abandoned
his intention of going down the river, past the site of Livingston.
Afraid of being caught between two forces in a narrow valley with
all his women and children, he turned eastward off his course
toward where General Sturgis was awaiting him with the 7th Cavalry
at Heart Mountain. He circumvented Sturgis here, showing him a
clean pair of heels, and recrossed the Yellowstone near Billings,
far below Livingston and days nearer General Miles at Jongue River.
This difference in time over the Livingston route enabled General
Miles to march rapidly north for some 300 miles and, in the end,
to capture Joseph and his band by one or the most brilliant feats
of arms ever carried out by the American Army, within a days march
of an asylum across the British Line - after a bloody fight and a
three days siege, part in a snow storm - on Snake Creek, 15 miles
south of Chinook, a town on the great Northern Railway.
General Miles did his utmost to keep Joseph and the other
prisoners under him in Montana, but it was then the policy of the
Secretary of the Interior to send all Indians to the Indian Terri-
tory if it killed every one of them, and it did cause the death of
many. Joseph was sent first to Kansas thence to the Indian Terri-
tory where many of his people died of disease. He was allowed,
however, long afterwards to take the remnant of his people back to
Idaho. He himself, broken in health and spirit, died in 1906, and
lies buried at Nespolem, Washington with a small stone monument
over his grave. The retreat of Joseph encumbered as he was by all
his women children and horses for more than a thousand miles across
high mountains and wide rivers with all the resources of civili-
zation against him, was a far more brilliant feat of arms than the
famous retreat of the ten thousand Greeks recorded by Xenophon.
But Oh! the pity of it all! The tremendous sacrifices forced upon
that enlightened, but helpless people by greed and rapacity!
While sitting many years afterward with General Miles in his
office in the War Department - Joseph came in - threw his arms
around General Miles and hugged him, as I have seen Geronimo do
also. When he went out I said "General there goes the best of them
all." The General said - "I think he is!"
PIONEER: Well folks, there ye are! That's the way it happened,
told you by General Hugh Scott, the man who was on the
spot! The campaign had lasted six months, an' Joseph had
marched more than 1300 miles, showing General Howard a
clean pair of heels the whole time. When General Miles
had Joseph finally trapped, General Howard he pushed on
ahead of his command so as to be in at the finish, but
he didn't hev nothin' to do with the capture, an' Joseph
didn't surrender to him.
An' so, on the last day, Joseph called his chiefs to-
gether, an' made his last speech.
(The beat of the Indian drums)
JOSEPH: Brothers! - I am tired of fighting. Our Chiefs are killed.
Looking Glass is dead, and Too-Hool-Hool-Suit is dead.
The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say
Yes and No, and he who heads 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 look for my children. Listen, my chiefs! I am tired.
My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands,
I will fight no more against the white man forever!
(The drums and the music die away)
PIONEER: An' so it was! A great Indian, a great general, and a
great man had fought his last fight. Sometimes, when we
start gettin' a little too proud of ourselves, it may
do us good to think back to Young Joseph, Chief of the
Nez Perces, an' jest consider what we did to him,
'Tain't nothin' fer the white race to be proud of. It's
a sad story, but it's a fine one. Well, well, here I am
still a botherin' you, an' you a wonderin' when I'm goin'
to quit! I'm a goin' to run along right now, but I'll
be back next week. Now that Spring's here I want to take
you out into the Wenatchee Valley with me, where they
grow the big apples! I've got to run now though! Good
night, folks! ... Good night!
You have been listening to "Empire Builders," a program
featuring the American Northwest and sponsored by the Great North-
ern Railroad. Next Monday evening at the same hour "Empire Builders"
will offer a dramatization of pioneer days in the celebrated
Wenatchee Valley in the state of Washington.
[This script may have been written by Edward Hale Bierstadt.]