Monday, July 26, 2004

Family camp was great.  It was a fanatastic time to relax and enjoy the wonder of God's creation.  I'll post some pictures later, but the Wallowa Lake Camp is in a truly magnificent area.  It is in northeast Oregon in the Blue Mountains, right on the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.  It is across the lake from the town of Joseph.  Joseph is named after Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce.

The cruel irony is that Joseph and the Nez Perce were forced out of the Wallowa Valley under threat of an attack from the US Army.  The Federal Government was requiring the Nez Perce to move to a reservation in Idaho.  The Nez Perce elected to flee to Canada, but after several young men attacked some white settlements killing four whites (in retaliation for the killing of several Nez Perce), the Army pursued the Nez Perce into Montana where Joseph and Nez Perce surrendered after three months of fighting.  The Nez Perce were sent first to Kansas, then Oklahoma. 

In 1885, after lobbying President Rutherford Hayes, half of the Nez Perce (including Chief Joseph) were returned to the Pacific Northwest.  However, they were sent to a reservation in Eastern Washington.  The Nez Perce were never allowed to return to the Wallowa Valley.  Chief Joseph died in 1904.

The powers that be have renamed the valley the "Nez Perce Valley" which is probably a small consolation to the Nez Perce.  I don't think that the Methodists or the Boy Scouts (who also have a camp in the area) shouldn't be there.  But I do think we have an obligation to remember our history.  America has a black mark on its soul for our treatment of Native Americans.  And many of those horrifying actions were in the name of God.  So as much fun as we had at Wallowa Lake, I'll always remember the horrible price the Nez Perce paid for happening to live someplace so wonderful.

More resources:

Nez Perce National Historic Trail
Nez Perce National Historic Trail
- from the End of the Oregon Trail website
Nez Perce National Historical Park 



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