by TONY EVANS
Many Idahoans know by heart the words of Nez Perce Chief Joseph, who after eluding the U.S cavalry in 1877 was stopped just south of the Canadian border.
With women, children and elders in tow, the great chief chose to remain behind another group of Nez Perce who fled to Canada, a group whose descendents live there today.
After months of running and fighting, Chief Joseph said, “Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
The Expressions art gallery in Ketchum features numerous native-inspired art pieces, including bronze sculptures of noted historical figures from both the Shoshone and Nez Perce tribes.
Nez Perce elder Allen Pinkhamsh saw one sculpture by Dave McGary, “Battle at Bear Paw,” earlier this summer. Pinkhamsh was in town for a performance of “Promises,” a choral work by the Ketchum-based Caritas Chorale.
Promises, written by Diane Josephy Peavey, detailed the promises made by the U.S. government, the eventual betrayals of the Nez Perce tribe and the ensuing flight of Chief Joseph’s band.
McGary’s sculpture of Chief Joseph at Expressions gallery was inspired by the artist’s discovery of a coat that had belonged to the chief. It was acquired by Lt. Lowell Jerome, who was traded by Nez Perce warriors for the chief in October 1877, and later placed in a museum at the West Point military academy.
Chief Joseph, who was later recaptured, was a friend of Chief Washaki of the Shoshone, and Washaki’s great-grandson told McGary about the coat.
Details on the sculpture, “Battle at Bear Paw,” capture the intricate and symbolic dress of Nez Perce chiefs at the end of the great Indian wars of the 19th century.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of the “Battle of Two Hearts” sculpture, also in the gallery, will go toward academic scholarships at the University of Wyoming. Chief Washaki, memorialized in the sculpture, beat Crow Chief Big Robber during the Battle of Two Hearts, and is credited with securing lands and education rights for the Shoshone Tribe.
For more information, go to www.expressionsgalleries.com.
Tony Evans: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.