Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/119

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The Nez Perces

ably. He and his band had suffered wrong rather than do wrong. One of their number was wickedly slain by a white man during the last summer, but he would not avenge his death. But, unavenged by him, the voice of that brother's blood, sanctifying the ground, would call the dust of their fathers back to life, to people the land in protest of this great wrong.

"The serious and feeling manner in which he uttered these sentiments was impressive. He was admonished that in taking this position he placed himself in antagonism to the President, whose government extended from ocean to ocean; that if he held to this position, sooner or later there would come an issue, and when it came, as the weaker party he and his band would go to the wall; that the President was not disposed to deprive him of any just right or govern him by his individual will, but merely subject him to the same just and equal laws by which he himself as well as all his people were ruled."

Day after day the commissioners met with the Nez Perces; their report is filled with the picturesque Indian speeches:

"What I tell you is the truth," declares Joseph. "It is not for us to trade off the land that is not traded off; and, as I said before, it is not marked and should be so left. It is a cause of great grief and trouble to us. When there is no cause there is no reason to be troubled. When we heard the whites