Chief Joseph’s Insight

In 1873 the annual report of the U.S. Commissioner on Indian Affairs contained this info…

The commissioners arrived in the territory of the Nez Perces and encouraged them to move to reservations and adopt the white man’s customs. One of the commissioners begin to talk of the advantages of establishing schools for Joseph’s people. Chief Joseph replied that they did not want the white man’s schools.

“Why do you not want schools?” the commissioner asked.

“They will teach us to have churches,” Joseph answered.

“Do you not want churches?”

“No, we do not want churches.”

“Why do you not want churches?”

“They will teach us to quarrel about God,” Joseph said. “We do not want to learn that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.”

14 thoughts on “Chief Joseph’s Insight

  1. Yes, Miles called me Cochise. A name I thought he made up, but as I was reading this book, I discovered that Cochise was an Apache chief. Apparantly my brother was paying attention in history class.

  2. Russ, are you serious? Is this converstion for real? Because if it is we now have an example of a prophet that was not mentioned in the Bible.

  3. I assume your talking about the Chief Joseph conversation and not the Cochise conversation. It’s real. Pretty insightful don’t you think.

  4. I think that a lot of times we white people shrug off the difficulty for Native Americans moving to reservations b/c we can only see the benefit it gave to us. It certainly impacted their ability to make money. I realize that many of us joke about Native Americans and casinos, but it has been a way for them to earn money and break some generational poverty (in which we would offer very little help).

  5. Is it just me or has everyone missed the point completely?White man’s church was and still remains a place to argue and quarrel about God…..Chief Joesph’s insight was spot on!Gary A.

  6. I don’t think this conversation is about gambling. It is about the degree the “white man” went to in trying to socialize the Indians. Who was to say what kind of relationship Chief Josheph and his people had with God. But, the establishment of Church in the eyes of the “white man” would solve all problems. I think Chief Josheph was a very insightful man who realized that Church rules could possibly destroy his people. And look what happened!!!!

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