- Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 27, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199769184
- ISBN-13: 978-0199769186
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story (Pivotal Moments in American History) 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A distinguished scholar of American history makes a significant contribution to Oxford's excellent series Pivotal Moments in American History in this definitive analysis of the United States' 1877 war with the Nez Percé. West (The Contested Plains) integrates a broad spectrum of sources to depict the fate of a people whose history of friendship with the U.S. dated to 1805. The Nez Percé were caught up in the questions posed by the Civil War and the period of expansion that followed: who would be the Americans and what obligations would bind them together? Such questions influenced Idaho and Oregon, where the Nez Percé lived, as much as Massachusetts and Virginia. The 1877 war, the Nez Percé's epic journey to reach the Canadian border, American conquest and Indian exile is the heart of the book, and West tells it brilliantly. No less compelling is his account of the Nez Percé taking up farming and making and selling Indian trinkets, developing their image as beloved losers and negotiating their return home—on white terms, but with honor and integrity upheld. 40 b&w illus., maps. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
*Starred Review* The so-called Nez Perce War of 1877 was one of the most unlikely, heroic, and tragic episodes in the history of the American West. Since encountering and helping to sustain the Lewis and Clark expedition, the several bands of the Nez Perce had maintained harmonious relations with the U.S. government. Then, after the government insisted that all of the bands relocate to a reservation well removed from their homeland, a band led by Chief Joseph resisted, leading the army on a 1,500-mile chase that ended just short of the Canadian border, capturing, in the process, the attention, even sympathy, of the general public. West, a professor of American history at the University of Arkansas, has written a detailed and often moving chronicle of the conflict. He lays the groundwork with an excellent analysis of Nez Perce culture on the eve of their flight. He also asserts provocatively that the effort to relocate the Nez Perce was part of the larger, post–Civil War federal strategy to overcome sectional and ethnic divisions. The highlight of the narrative is the flight of the approximately 800 Nez Perce, including the iconic figures Joseph and Looking Glass, as they strive to battle and break free of their pursuers. This is a superb reexamination of a sad but memorable story. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The short version: this is an absolutely GREAT book about not only the fantastic Nez Perce bid for Freedom in 1877/78 but about how their story produces a dynamic portrait of the entire 19th Century. It is gem in the legacy of every American.
To elaborate a bit...
Too often we treat the 5-year Civil War as THE Defining Factor of the 19th Century USA. Not True. At All.
Every event, every invention, every social, religious and political change, every environmental change here during the entire span of the 1800s – including our puny Civil War - was molded, caused and developed by just one thing...a continent full of land and resources just waiting to be taken possession of and used. And because of this, the 19th Century here was one of multiple “reconstructions” (as West terms them) – actually “reinventions” of ourselves and our country to evolving ideas of what America and Americans were and should be. Not for more than five thousand years had Mankind seen such a marvel.
The Nez Perce “War” was the sunset of one America and the dawn of the next – for all of us - and Elliott West does a superb job of bringing it to the reader.
The crimes they committed were brought on by settlers who thought they were better than any "heathen" and set out to prove it! This book will, at the very least, open our eyes to appreciate how much these peoples taught us about this
great land ! The Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts are a living testament to the principles that tribal councils have passed down these many generations ! A must read for all American citizens! Tate
The story begins in a very lively manner tracing the origin myths of the Nez Perce. The reader is drawn into the story by the colorful tales that comprise their understanding of their own tribal history. The Nez Perce were a peaceful and resourceful group of natives who lived as a loose knit community of hunter/gatherers in the hills of Idaho and Montana. West did a great job detailing the social structure of these tribes and one could get a real sense of the culture. Like many tribes they were affected by the arrival of horses and horses revolutionized the Nez Perce way of life. The initial contact that this group had with the United States government happened during the journey of Lewis and Clark. Clark even sired a child with one of the sisters of the chief. Later on white people began moving into the areas surrounding the Nez Perce. These Indians had no problem with whites and were interested in their ways of life as well as their religion. The belief held among these tribes was that the white man had a powerful God because he was able to give them all of the material things they had gained. Therefore, the Indians were interested in procuring the favor of this God.
Problems of course soon develop. West argues that there were a couple of big issues that affected this situation. First of all, Washington had difficulty negotiating with these groups because they assumed that the power structures of the groups were the same as their own. Therefore, they would negotiate with the Chiefs who actually had no authority to speak for the tribes or make decisions for them. Second of all, white people came in bringing the stricter forms of Christianity and trying to implement "white society" rules. This ran into major issues leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the Indians. Lastly, the government would make treaties with them only to break them when they were no longer convenient. The relationship between these Indians and whites naturally cooled after some time. As settlers continue to go west it became apparent that Washington needed to do something about the Native population to make their lands available to white settlers. When the Nez Perce refused to be placed on the reservation and became angry over the lies imposed on them by the government, they rebelled. West catalogs this episode thoroughly followed by observations on the way in which Indians were remembered in the aftermath.
There were a couple of drawbacks in my opinion. I felt that his criticisms of Christianity were valid up to a point. There were times that there was a subtle sarcasm that bled through those criticisms. Not all contact with Christians were negative for the Indians and not all Christians living in that time agreed with the nefarious methods used by some of the Missionaries. Again let me reemphasize before I get a bad vote over this. I felt he had valid criticism towards the Missionaries and the religious encounters with Indians but his own bias was evident ever though he was in sense trying to conceal it. I also found spots of the book to be quite boring. Although the maps were helpful since I have never been to some of the places I had a difficult time picturing the events themselves. The Indians had every right to rebel against the government but killing babies and raping women does not right anyone's wrong. I know white people did it as well and it is just as wrong. I think the book made that point but could have been stronger. The highlight of the book was Chief Joseph who becomes a focal point for the story. I thought he brought home some unique points about the man and his role in the mythologizing of American Indians.
Overall, I think the book is a wonderful read full of adventure and oftentimes sadness. The characters are vibrant and easily to become engaged with as the story moves along. His ending added a nice reflection on the story itself and made sure the reader knew what happened after the story. Most of it is not pretty. I think that he had an astute observation by seeing this event with the Nez Perce as a crucial moment in our nation's development. The blight of the Indian is a stain on American history and something which needs to be fully embraced. That is, it must recognized and we must realize that our ancestors and government are the ones that did it. If our future is ever to be one which frowns on the injustices of war we must face the past and see our own motives in the light of history's reflection. We still often find ourselves going to war in order to take something that does not rightfully belong to us and this story should be a point for the reader to perform a self-assessment. This was a great investment, the kindle copy was good, and I would recommend to anyone interested in understanding how the the west was stolen. Great book, great price, great story.
The Indian peoples did not need a leader, they had various different head men for different tasks. No individual had to do the will of another if they didn't want to. The harshest punishment the tribes exacted on a rebellious member was to have a public "calling out" or shaming. Into this the US government brought the punishments of prison, relocation or hanging. Is it any wonder the Indians finally revolted?
Read this book. You will have a whole different frame of mind towards the Indian Wars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent source for the back ground on the Nez Perce nation.Read more