Monday, October 19, 2015

Pilgrimage, week 2 - continued,

So there we were in the sweet quiet town of Joseph,
named after the Josephs, the Elder and the Younger
without, by the way, any visual evidence of Native Americans currently residing there.

It was a bittersweet visit.  The people we met, both residents, and tourists alike were the friendliest we were to encounter on our journey.

While we were shopping in town, Bid met a woman, about our age, who had been raised by her grandparents in the rural Wallowa Valley.
Sue was sympathetic to our pilgrimage. She graciously invited us to her home to view an amazing print she had hanging over her fireplace which commemorated Joseph's last flight for freedom.

While in Joseph, we learned that the people of this county live in harmony with one another, no matter their status, rich or poor, young or old, race or creed.  
We heard it said, "we have each other's backs".

We also learned that, by one account, the Nez Perce tribe offered to purchase a sacred plot of land from an old rancher who was selling his property and he had refused to sell to them. We learned that the State intervened and purchased the land with the rancher unaware that the Nez Perce had put up the money. 
It's now a park in town, and we believe the 'bones' of their fathers are somewhere near.

This is a very sad story, and our empathy increased with each chapter.

We were told that Old Chief Joseph's (Joseph's father) remains were eventually moved to this location in Joseph. 

We went to his grave, and sat on a hill nearby

and recited a 'forgiveness' prayer. 

It was that moment, Bid and I realized that Forgiveness was to be the theme for our journey.

 The story goes that, as Old Chief Joseph passed on leadership to his son, he directed him 
"not to sell the bones of your parents,"

as he was being pressured by the government to give up their homeland to settlers and gold diggers.

That was to be the legacy Chief Joseph the Younger ….
to not give up the sacred land of his people.

We experienced that the Joseph band of the Nez Perce's homeland in the Wallowa Valley 
was and still remains a most
 beautiful, serene, fertile and safe place.

It is a temperate valley, comfortable in both winter and summer.

We were in their 'summer home' and and before we left the area, 
we visited their 'winter home', 
deep in the valley on the banks of the Imnaha.

Eventually, Joseph and his band of Nez Perce were forced to leave this valley.

From here, they travelled for 3 months to escape the US government groups…

We decided to follow some of this path.


  1. ooo what a wonderful journey -- one definitely after my own heart ..... although I am multi-generational aussie, I have long been fascinated by native american history and chief joseph in particular.. I wish I had more information about the heritage of my husband (and subsequently our children) who's great-great grandfather it turns out was native american....

    1. Thank you Ronnie. For myself and those that know of my friend Bid's interest in Chief Joseph, the distance you both would travel to learn more about this culture is vast. Being in the areas we visited and speaking with the younger 'Natives' gives a first hand experience and viewpoint that seems impossible to glean otherwise. One thing you mention, is something we kept running into everywhere….that so many of us have Native American blood. It is very interesting and more common than we realized. Another impression that has stayed with me is how 'fresh' this wound is.