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Americans Who Tell the Truth ::

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Robert Shetterly's portrait of Chief Joseph Hinmton Yalektit
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“I have asked some of the great white chiefs where they get their authority to say to the Indian that he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men going where they please.”
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Chief Joseph Hinmton Yalektit
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98 of 100
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Native American Leader (c1840—1904)

Son of a Nez Percé Indian chief, Joseph was born Hinmaton Yalaktit (“Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain”) in what is now northeastern Oregon. He became known as Joseph the Younger because his father, one of the first Nez Percé to convert to Christianity, earlier had taken Joseph as his baptismal name.

In 1863, however, following a gold rush by whites in the area, the federal government repossessed some six million acres of tribal land, and Joseph the Elder renounced both the U.S. and Christianity. When he died in 1871, his son Joseph became chief, and soon had to deal with an impossible situation. When a U.S. general threatened a cavalry attack in 1877, Chief Joseph agreed to take his people to their reservation in Idaho, now diminished in size by 90%.

Before this could happen, however, a group of young Nez Percé warriors attacked white settlements along the Salmon River, and then came to hide among the tribe. Joseph, who initially had believed resistance to the U.S. military would be futile, now was forced to fight. Moving north through the mountains of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, the Nez Percé under his leadership conducted one of the most brilliant retreats in American history. In three months this band of 700, with fewer than 200 warriors, traveled almost 1,500 miles while fighting off a pursuing army of 2,000.

By the time the exhausted, starving Nez Percé were forced to surrender in early October 1877, just 42 miles from the Canadian border, Joseph had become famous as ‘The Red Napoleon.' In truth, his younger brother Olikut and others were the war leaders of their tribe, while he was responsible for guarding the camp. Chief Joseph, however, is best remembered today for his elegant surrender speech, which has been called the most famous statement in American Indian history. It ends, “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”

Chief Joseph had been told that his people would be returned to their lands in Oregon, but instead they were transported to eastern Kansas, and then Oklahoma, where many died from epidemic diseases. He continued to protest their treatment, even traveling to Washington D.C. in 1879 to meet with President Hayes, but he was never permitted to return to his homeland. He died in northeastern Washington State in 1904, and was buried there in exile.

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See the full set of Robert Shetterly's portraits at www.americanswhotellthetruth.org.

Tools for Teaching: see the acompanying curriculum materials with suggestions on how to use the portraits and biographies of these American truth-tellers in your classroom.
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BUY THE BOOK AND GREETING CARDS FROM THE YES! STORE:
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Americans Who Tell the Truth ::

Robert Shetterly's series highlights Americans past and present whose dignity, courage, and honesty have shaped this country.

This beautiful coffee-table book is an eloquent collection of portraits and stirring words of these brave citizens from all walks of life.
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Card Sets ::

A special YES! selection of Greeting Cards from the series in sets of 8 (with envelopes).

Sets feature high quality prints of the portraits, complete with quotes and biographies.

Posters also available from the artist.
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