Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy birthday Joseph

Winter comes early and with vengeance in parts of the West. The South looks docile, so you can't really tell how many have died from disease, flood and tornado. But the West? One look at those austere peaks is all it takes to know what the West can do.

Joseph was a man of the West, caught in changing times and just trying to do the best he could. Couldn't fight the Whites, so that meant reservation. The reservation was starving his people, so they had to get out of there. That's all he wanted to do, just get to Canada. So for three months, across some of the roughest terrain in North America, went 800 Nez Perce and 2000 US Cavalry in pursuit.

Three months, running gun battles, 1700 miles, and it stopped forty miles from the Canadian border.

They ran Joesph to ground. True to his talents, main body of the tribe had already slipped across to Canada under cover of darkness. He surrendered himself, his family, and those too weak or old to sneak across the border.

Happy birthday Chief Joseph. In troubled times you did the only thing that made sense, the best you could. The greatest good for the greatest number. The West is a hard place, not patient with fools. It's encouraging to me, knowing that hard places and hard times don't always make hard people. There is an important difference between hard people and tough people. You were tough Joseph. Happy birthday buddy.

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