Saga of Chief Joseph


Saga of Chief Joseph

Special edition, A Bison Classic Edition

Helen Addison Howard
New introduction by Nicole Tonkovich
Maps and illustrations by George D. McGrath

Bison Classic Editions Series

408 pages
6 photographs, 6 illustrations, 1 genealogy, 2 maps, index


December 2017


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2017


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2017


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Saga of Chief Joseph, Helen Addison Howard has written the definitive biography of the great Nez Perce chief, a diplomat among warriors. In times of war and peace, Chief Joseph exhibited gifts of the first rank as a leader for peace and tribal liberty. Following his people’s internment in Indian Territory in 1877, Chief Joseph secured their release in 1885 and led them back to their home country. Fiercely principled, he never abandoned his quest to have his country, the Wallowa Valley, returned to its rightful owners. The struggle of the Nez Perces for the freedom they considered paramount in life constitutes one of the most dramatic episodes in Indian history.

This completely revised edition of the author’s 1941 version (titled War Chief Joseph) presents in exciting detail the full story of Chief Joseph, with a reevaluation of the five bands engaged in the Nez Perce War, told from the Indian, the white military, and the settler points of view. Especially valuable is the reappraisal, based on significant new material from Indian sources, of Joseph as a war leader.

The new introduction by Nicole Tonkovich explores the continuing relevance of Chief Joseph and the lasting significance of Howard’s work during the era of Angie Debo, Alice Marriott, and Muriel H. Wright.

Author Bio

Helen Addison Howard (1904–1989) was a writer of U.S. Western history whose stories and articles have been published in magazines throughout the country. She is the author of Northwest Trail Blazers. Nicole Tonkovich is a professor of American literature at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of The Allotment Plot: Alice C. Fletcher, E. Jane Gay, and Nez Perce Survivance(Nebraska, 2012). George D. McGrath (d. 1945) was a descendant of Montana pioneers. His grandmother knew Chief Joseph as a friend.


"From Joseph’s years as a spiritual leader to the 1877 battle of the Bearpaw Mountains and surrender of the Nez Perce, Howard renders Joseph’s life and times in fine detail. Her storytelling reflects a sharp journalistic eye and a knack for the grand sweep of history."—Publishers Weekly

“A priceless contribution.”—Los Angeles Times

“A stirring and dramatic biography of a great man.”—Montreal Star

“This work . . . is a standard in the field.”—CHOICE Books for College Libraries

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction to the Bison Classic Edition
Part I. Early History
1. The Valley of Winding Waters
2. The Coming of the Missionaries
3. Thunder-rolling-in-the-mountains
Part II. Treaty History
4. The Council Smoke of 1855
5. War in the Columbia Basin—1856–58
6. The Treaty of 1863
7. The Tah-mah-ne-wes Beckons
8. The Earth-mother Drinks Blood
9. The Council at Fort Lapwai—1877
10. Chief White Bird’s Murders
Part III. The Military Campaign of 1877
11. The Settlers Prepare for War
12. The Battle of White Bird Canyon
13. The Skirmish at Cottonwood
14. The Battle of the Clearwater
15 The March Over the Lolo Trail
16. The Affair at “Fort Fizzle”
17. The Battle of the Big Hole
18. The Camas Meadows Raid
19. The Attack on the Cowan and Weikert Parties
20. The Battle of Canyon Creek
21. The Skirmish at Cow Island
22. Battle of the Bearpaw Mountains
23. Joseph’s Surrender
Part IV. Later History
24. Prisoners of War
25. “Somebody Has Got Our Horses”
26. Return from Exile
27. The Trail to the Setting Sun
Appendix 1: Genealogy Chart
Appendix 2: Sidelights

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