“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it…. We ask only a chance to live as other men live.... Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think, and act for myself.”
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce spoke these words, and more, in an eloquent speech before leaders of the United States in 1879 – two years after he was captured with his people. In 1877, Chief Joseph’s band of Nez Perce fled the US Army for over three months (traveling 1170 miles) in a desperate attempt to reach political asylum in Canada with the Lakota people. After a devastating 5-day battle, and without food or blankets in freezing weather, Chief Joseph was captured by the US Army less than 40 miles from Canada. Chief Joseph sought reservation land near his ancestral territory, and equality under the law within the United States. During his lifetime, the Nez Perce received neither.
This drawing in vine charcoal references a photo of Chief Joseph taken by Edward Curtis in 1903, shortly before Chief Joseph’s death. The words written on the flag are Chief Joseph’s words quoted above – excerpted from his 1879 speech. The flag in the background is not the historic flag from 1879, but today’s modern flag – signaling the continuing relevance of Chief Joseph’s historic plea for equal rights for “all people". Securing and preserving freedom must be accomplished anew each day.
This piece is available -- message me for details. Vine charcoal on Strathmore charcoal paper, 11"x14". #charcoal #portrait #vinecharcoal #charcoalportrait #nativeamerican #nativeamericanart #chiefjoseph #freedom #politicalart #drawing #portraitdrawing #illustration