President Grant tried to solve the problem; he set aside a section of land "as a reservation for the roaming Nez Perce Indians." Settlers weren't allowed on the land. But that didn't stop the miners and homesteaders. They defied the President. They moved onto the land. Chief Joseph, whose real name was Hin-mah-too-yah-laht-ket"Thunder Rolling in the Mountains"told his people to be patient. He knew it would be dangerous to fight the white settlers. In 1876, the government sent three commissioners to persuade Chief Joseph to move from his land to another reservation. He would not agree. Instead he said: "Understand me fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with it as I chose. The one who has the right to dispose of it is the one who has created it. I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilege to live on yours ."
But the commissioners had no patience. The Indians must go, and quickly, they said, even though the weather was bad. One frustrated, angry young Indian, whose father had been murdered by white settlers, killed some of the white men. Now the whites had a reason to call the Indians savages. Now they could attack. But the Nez Perce fought back. Then the Indians raced for a place where they thought they would be freeCanada. It turned out to be a 1,000-mile journey. Joseph led his small band brilliantly, though most were children and old people. They fought in their mountains, they fought in their valleys, they fought in their canyons, they fought on their plateaus. Everywhere they were outnumbered and outgunned. Over and again they outwitted their pursuers. But they were fighting the telegraph as well as an army. Fresh troops were summoned by wire. Finally, just thirty miles from Canada, facing new soldiers, the Nez Perce were surrounded . On October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph made this surrender statement: "I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. The old men are dead. 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 ."