Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/117

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The Nez Perces

entered the church with his band it was evident that their ranks were considerably swelled by the addition of other prominent non-treaty Indians, as also by some malcontents among those who acknowledge themselves bound by the treaties. The commission occupied the platform of the church. Joseph and his band, sixty or seventy in number (including malcontents), after an exchange of salutations by himself and a few of his headmen with the commission, took seats upon our left, the treaty-Indians filling the right and centre of the house.

"Brief personal introductions by General Howard followed, who also made. to Joseph a plain and concise statement of the peaceful errands and objects of the commission.

"From the first it was apparent that Joseph was in no haste. Never was the policy of masterly inactivity more fully inaugurated. He answered every salutation, compliment, and expression of good will, in kind, and duplicated the quantity. An alertness and dexterity in intellectual fencing was exhibited by him that was quite remarkable. . . .

"When, in answer to suggestions and general inquiry, no grievance was stated, the commission plied him with questions touching his occasional occupation of Wallowa Valley, and the irritations and disturbances consequent thereon with the white settlers, he answered, he had not come to talk about land, and added that these white settlers had first informed