By Associated Press • 

Idaho challenges Oregon over Chief Joseph statue proposal

A statue of Young Chief Joseph in Enterprise, Oregon##Wikipedia photo
A statue of Young Chief Joseph in Enterprise, Oregon##Wikipedia photo

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers are considering a recommendation that Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph and suffragette Abigail Scott Duniway replace two other symbols of the state among the statues on display at the U.S. Capitol.

But Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter says not so fast.

In a letter to Oregon leaders, Otter says Chief Joseph might have more of a historical connection to his state.

“Chief Joseph's story and legacy in the Northwest is indeed historically notable,” Otter wrote. “But a close examination of history may indicate a more significant historical tie to Idaho than any other state in our region. I therefore would urge a careful analysis of the chief's history, and I will be grateful for your kind consideration of Idaho in this regard.”

Otter's letter came up during an Oregon Senate Rules Committee meeting last week, the Statesman Journal newspaper reported.

It stemmed from proposal to replace Oregon's statues at the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C. Each state has two statues on display there.

Since 1953, Oregon's statues have been pioneer Jason Lee, a 19th century missionary who founded what became Willamette University, and John McLoughlin, a fur trader known as the father of Oregon.

The Oregon Statuary Hall Study Commission recommended the replacements after studying the issue with the Oregon Historical Society.

Chief Joseph led 750 Nez Perce tribal members on a 1,700-mile journey from Oregon to Montana in an unsuccessful bid to reach Canada and avoid being confined to a reservation. They were forced to surrender in 1877 after U.S. troops stopped them about 40 miles south of the Canadian border.

In a famous speech made after the surrender, Chief Joseph said: “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

Duniway was a women's rights advocate whose efforts were key in gaining their voting rights.

A bill to replace the existing statues remains in committee. It must be approved by the Legislature and governor.


Information from: Statesman Journal,



Chief Joseph was a very cool, insightful man. "From where the sun now stands..." captures his dignity and eloquence.
However, I think he belongs to Idaho.


I disagree with the Idaho challenge. Chief Joseph was raised in the Wallowa Valley, in Oregon. He considered it sacred territory to his people, and honored his father's admonition to never sell the land of his father's grave (just outside of the city of Joseph, Oregon). Although the Nez Perce lands covered more area in Idaho than in Oregon, it was the Wallowa Valley that he cherished - not the reservation lands in Idaho - where he refused to settle.

However, I find it a little crass that any state would try to claim Chief Joseph as "their own", after the way he was treated by the United States, and forced him to relocate to northern Washington, where he died and was buried.


Okay--what about Sacagawea? She saved the exposition's bacon numerous times.
What bothers me about suffragettes is they're always shown as these grim old crones--like those wizened apple-headed figures. Schoolchildren viewing them feel no human connection. Why can't they be represented by younger, less pruney photographs? Susan B. Anthony is another example of an unfortunate portrayal. I realize how un-PC this sounds.


Spongebob is correct. Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt) was of the Wallowa Valley Oregon. His band of the Ne-Me-Poo called the Wallowa Valley of Oregon home and not Idaho.
There were many bands of The Nez Perce and these bands occupied Oregon, Washington and Idaho. After his capture at Bears Paw Montana, he continued fighting for his tribe right up until his death. His wishes to be buried near his father at Wallowa Lake fell on deaf ears and he was buried at Colville. The tribes efforts to have him moved, failed.
Years ago I was a scout with the National Appaloosa Horse Club and have ridden the trail on horses from Wallowa to Bears Paw. Along the way we met many wonderful people and I gained a very grand education from the Nez Perce themselves. This ride began in 1965 and continues on. They ride 100 miles each year.
I have absolutely no problem with a statue of Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt being placed in Washington D.C., representing Oregon.

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