1994 29¢ Chief Joseph
Legends of the West
Issue Date: October 18, 1994
City: Laramie, WY, Tucson, AZ and Lawton, OK
Quantity: 19,282,800 panes
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 10.1 x 10
“It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.” With those famous words Chief Joseph, whose Indian name means “Thunder-traveling-to-loftier-heights,” ended the Nez Perce War. Joseph had led his people on a 15 week, 1,700 mile fighting-retreat that ended only 40 miles from the safety of the Canadian border. Outnumbered 10-to-1, the Nez Perce repeatedly outmaneuvered the U.S. Army, and actually gained the upper hand in several clashes.
The fighting began in 1877, when the U.S. government ordered the Nez Perce to move to an undesirable reservation far from their traditional home in Oregon’s Wallowa Valley. After the surrender, the Nez Perce were promised they could again return to their tribal land. And although some eventually did, Chief Joseph never again saw the land of his birth.
Chief Joseph was born around 1840, the son of a chief. Joseph’s father was a Christian, and Joseph attended a mission school. In 1871 his father died and he in turn became a chief. Before his death in 1904, Chief Joseph personally spoke to both Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt on behalf of his people.