Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/118

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The Indian Dispossessed

him of the appointment of this commission, expressing their belief that on its assembling all these troubles would be settled, and they (the whites) would retire from the valley. In this, and the following interviews, which were long drawn out, one of them continuing into the night, Joseph maintained his right to Wallowa Valley, including, as we understood, the tract of country set apart as a reservation for him and his band, by Executive order dated June 16, 1873. . . .

"The earth was his mother. He was made of the earth and grew up on its bosom. The earth, as his mother and nurse, was sacred to his affections, too sacred to be valued by or sold for silver and gold. He could not consent to sever his affections from the land that bore him. He was content to live upon such fruits as the 'Creative Power' placed within and upon it, and unwilling to barter these and his free habits away for the new modes of life proposed by us. Moreover, the earth carried chieftainship (which the interpreter explained to mean law, authority, or control), and therefore to part with the earth would be to part with himself or with his self-control. He asked nothing of the President. He was able to take care of himself. He did not desire Wallowa Valley as a reservation, for that would subject him and his band to the will of and dependence on another, and to laws not of their own making. He was disposed to live peace-