An Indian's View of Indian Affairs: A Speech by Chief Joseph

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Sunju Han
History 152
Document Analysis

During the late nineteenth century, many changes have occurred during the Industrial Revolution. The living conditions in America were deteriorating for anyone who wasn’t in the upper social economic classes. Many complaints were arising from the masses. Of the population, two primary documents have been observed to express the point of views of particular groups they represent. One of these documents was from Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians, from the Indian point of view. The other document was from the Populists Party, largely representing the farmers and working classes of the 1890s. The time period of both documents roughly range from the 1870s through the 1890s.

Chief Joseph’s speech was called “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs”. In his speech, he speaks from the Indian’s perspective of how they are treated and handled. One of the many issues he brings up is about the treatment of his people. He felt that his people are treated like animals and outlaws, being shot down or driven from country to country. The whites who have encroached on their land have driven off their cattle and horses. They also stole from the Indians. For example, whites would brand the Indian’s young cattle so that they can claim it as their own. Chief Joseph also felt the whites were causing problems on purpose in order to start a war between the whites and Indians. He pleads his case by stating how the Indians didn’t kill off the first white settlers that were having trouble surviving. Now they repay their thanks by causing trouble because they have the power to conquer the Indians. In the beginning, the Indians gave up some of their land foolishly believe they would be left alone but the more they gave, the more that was taken from them. He complains that his people aren’t getting treated like humans. Many whites saw them as savages that don’t know any other way than violence. In his speech he is taking an...
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