The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 3

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 3

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 3

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 3

Excerpt

His name was Heinmot Tooyalaket (pronounced In mut Too yah lah kat ), which means [Thunder Coming Up Over the Land from the Water.] He became known as Chief Joseph, a respected Nez Perce leader.

In 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition visited the region of the Nez Perces, which included the present-day states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Non-Indian trappers and fur traders followed and established friendly trading relations with the Nez Perces. In 1836, the first Christian missionaries arrived. Among them were Henry Spalding and his wife, Elisa, who instituted a Presbyterian mission at the mouth of Lapwai Creek in the area now known as northern Idaho.

The Nez Perces were impressed by the guns and other weapons introduced to them by the whites and believed the whites possessed a powerful medicine—thus, some Nez Perces became willing converts to Christianity. Among those converted was Chief Joseph's father, a wealthy Nez Perce chief called Tu-eka-kas. Chief Tu-eka-kas was baptized with the name Joseph (The Older) and became a devout follower of the Presbyterian religion.

Chief Joseph (The Younger) was born in the Wallowa River Valley of eastern Oregon, which was the summer home of the Nez Perces. He and his younger brother, Ollokot, were baptized by Presbyterian missionaries and spent many days of their childhood in the mission community at Lapwai . . .

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