Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Chief Joseph & the
Flight of the Nez Perce
by Kent Nerburn, Harper One, 2005
Reviewed by Richard McGowan
Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez
Perce confirms why, as a matter of respect, I visited Chief
Joseph's grave years ago. Kent Nerburn has captured the dignity,
heart, and person of Chief Joseph, whom the NY Times called the
'noblest Indian of them all,' in telling the story of the famous
Nez Perce flight from the U.S. military's might. Thus, the book
both inspires its reader to kindness as it makes that same reader's
How an, ill-equipped band of Nez
Perce could outsmart, outmaneuver, and outfight the
well-provisioned army sent after it is a story worth reading. How
the Unites States government and its representatives betrayed trust
and promise during the Indian Wars, so-called, is worth
remembering. Those representatives include the famous Civil War
general, Oliver Howard, and most imposing of all, Commanding
General of the Army, William T. Sherman, he of the 'scorched earth'
policy and march to the sea of the Civil War.
No promise made to Chief Joseph and the Nez
Perce, even those made by a respectful foe, Colonel Nelson Miles,
were kept. As Joseph asked, "When will these white chiefs tell the
truth?" The short answer: never.
Nonetheless, Joseph retained his strength
and the calm determination to see his people through their
Detailed and meticulously researched, Chief
Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce provides a masterful account
of one of the most sordid periods of American history as it
portrays a man of devotion and humility and heart.
- Richard McGowan is Instructor of Business Ethics at Butler