"Joseph never stopped pressing for land in the Wallowa Valley, and up to his death in 1904, the government kept reopening and reconsidering his claims. Joseph became an inspiration to generations of civil rights and human rights activists due his forceful message of universal liberty and equality. 'We only ask an even chance to live as other men live,' he famously said. '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 think and talk and act for myself—and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.' It's a strikingly modern expression of the rights that all Americans should expect, marking a bridge from the old values of abolition, the Union, and Reconstruction to the causes of a new century. But Joseph was not simply making a plea for citizenship. He was claiming the right to participate in the contentious, if not unending, struggles built into the American way of governing—the right to speak to the state and be heard."
Slate runs an excerpt of Daniel J. Sharfstein's Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War.