They told us to treat all men as they treated us; that we should never be the first to break a bargain; that it was a
disgrace to tell a lie; that we should speak only the truth; that it was a shame for one man to take from another his wife, or his property without paying for it.
We were taught to believe that the Great Spirit sees and hears everything, and that he never forgets; that hereafter he will give every man a spirit-home according to his
deserts: if he has been a good man, he will have a good home; if he has been a bad man, he will have a bad home.
An Indian respects a brave man, but he
despises a coward.
My father was the first to see through the
schemes of the white men, and he warned his tribe to be careful about trading with them.
Some of the chiefs of the other bands of the Nez Perces signed the treaty, and then Governor Stevens gave them presents of blankets. My father
cautioned his people to take no presents, for "after a while," he said, "they will claim that you have accepted pay for your country."
Since that time four bands of the Nez Perces have received
annuities from the United States.
He said to me: "When you go into
council with the white man, always remember your country. Do not give it away. The white man will cheat you out of your home.
He had no right to sell the Wallowa (winding water) country. That had always belonged to my father's own people, and the other bands had never
disputed our right to it.
The United States
claimed they had bought all the Nez Perces country outside of Lapwai Reservation, from Lawyer and other chiefs, but we continued to live on this land in peace until eight years ago, when white men began to come inside the bounds my father had set.
Neither Lawyer nor any other chief had
authority to sell this land.
I do not need your help; we have plenty, and we are
contented and happy if the white man will let us alone.
The reservation is too small for so many people with all their
We had no friend who would
plead our cause before the law councils.
We could have
avenged our wrongs many times, but we did not.
We have had a few good friends among white men, and they have always advised my people to bear these
taunts without fighting.
Our young men were quick-tempered, and I have had great trouble in keeping them from doing
When I think of our
condition my heart is heavy. I see men of my race treated as outlaws and driven from country to country, or shot down like animals.
I know that my race must change. We can not hold our own with the white men as we are. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be
recognized as men. We ask that the same law shall work alike on all men.
Let me be a free man--free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself--and I will obey every law, or
submit to the penalty.
I hope that no more groans of
wounded men and women will ever go to the ear of the Great Spirit Chief above, and that all people may be one people.